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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Linkle's Derivative Doom

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I don't like her at all. Or what she stands for.

When Nintendo first introduced Linkle to us last week for Hyrule Warriors Legends on the 3DS, I was just having trouble figuring out what her name actually was. Lingle (Tingle + Link)? Winkle? Amazingly, my live reaction was,
"Featuring an original character that looks like Zelda."

That's right. When Bill Trinen said, "She [Linkle] looks quite familiar", I thought Linkle resembled Zelda more than Link!

Linkle Hyrule Warriors Legends comparison to Zelda Skyward Sword side-by-side
If Zelda were smiling here and not looking down, you'd see a ton of similarities!

I thought Linkle was a parallel version of Zelda dressed up in a Link costume. You know, some sort of Link fangirl. And I guess that's still what she could be. The day after the Direct, I wrote:
"Linkle. Linkle... Linkle...... What a disgrace. Tecmo Koei is shaming the Zelda series with their idiotic "original characters". I think it's to the point of parody now. Maybe it was a parody to begin with, with their other "original characters" in Hyrule Warriors that end up taking a ton of attention? (And are majority female for some reason.) I don't know." 
I still don't know, but there is something I do know now, and it has to do with the reaction to Linkle's existence by professional grievers...

...They have a point!

Once upon a time, professional game critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian decried a whole group of female characters she deemed, "Ms. Male Characters." Among these included my sister (and fellow KoopaTV staff member) Princess Wendy O. Koopa, and Dixie Kong. The second of those we've blessed a while ago as a fantastic female character. (Disclosure: I have a crush on Dixie Kong.)

Anita Sarkeesian Wendy O. Koopa Ms. Male Character
Anita WISHES she had my sister's love!

Beyond a couple of bad examples, Anita's main point is this: There exists this class of female characters that are just female versions of existing male characters. Their personalities are defined by the fact that they are female, while male characters get to enjoy a lot more variance in their personalities. Anita believes this applies to Linkle as well, based on Feminist Frequency's retweetings.

While I'm not going to defend Anita Sarkeesian (side note: KoopaTV's videogame of the same name has recently been reuploaded to existence for your pleasure! It's free and browser-based!), I will state that I share her basic complaint of the dangers of lazily-written and lazily-designed female characters. And lazily-written male characters, as well.

Linkle is exactly that. Her creation is lazy. She exists to be a female Link, but she is her own character in a "Linkle exists at the same time as Link" sense. Think about how Linkle must feel about that, assuming she isn't just trying to be a Link fangirl. She exists with as much creativity as some fan-fiction's "original character". This seems like it'd be an excerpt from one of those (but I wrote it):

"I can never be the real Link!" Linkle whined. "Everyone just looks at me and thinks, female Link! Don't they know I'm my own woman with my own hopes and dreams?"
No. They don't know. And I don't think any of the people who actually want Linkle's presence care. They just think, "Oh, it's Link with boobs!" And salivate.

Francis hot babe Princess Peach Super Paper Mario
Most (male) gamer reactions to Linkle.

I don't want to employ that sort of reductionist analysis, but why else would Linkle be created by the team of people who also made such titles such as Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball? She happens to also be "jumpy" and "energetic".

Again, Linkle ain't a female alternative to Link from a character select screen. "Oh, male or female?" Nope, she's her own character forever associated with Link. While characters like Impa can rise above the label of "Zelda's caretaker" to become her increasingly-popular own woman, Linkle will forever be a derivative of Link. She can't possibly become more than that. That is a shame, and that's the kind of doom and gloom that people like Anita Sarkeesian (I'm not doing myself favours by associating my argument with her, am I?) want to avoid for characters.

Sort of like how Bowser Jr. will forever be a derivative of King Dad. And it shows how little people give a damn about that brat.

Bowser Jr. favorite Mario character GameFAQs poll pie chart
Pie chart made by KoopaTV staffer Vortexica based off this GameFAQs poll.

What do I think is the right way to do it? Look at Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, where you choose between very distinct characters for male and female. The one you don't choose is still part of the story and has an important role to play. They even have subtle dialogue differences in their NPC role! Even better, Dawn isn't a weirdly feminine version of Lucas.

Ludwig likes well-written characters, though the games he produces for KoopaTV don't have the production values to be able to achieve that. They're still fun! Speaking of games, to celebrate the return of Defend Anita Sarkeesian, KoopaTV is increasing the points you can get for putting it on YouTube from 15 to 25 in the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program! That's KoopaTV's way of giving back to awesome readers like you, with the current prizes being Amazon credit!

For the picture of Ludwig and Anita together, see this article.


  1. All I can think of after reading this article is if there was ever a male character that was a derivative of an existing female character. All I can think of is Diego who is a derivative of Dora the Explorer.

    1. Have fun looking through TV Tropes, I guess.
      "Finally, in accordance with the aforementioned Laws, as well as certain demographic reasons, male-to-female changes are far more likely than female-to-male ones, and the rare female-to-male ones are usually less susceptible to the Three Laws of Gender Bending. Truth in Television to some degree, as the ratio of real life Transwomen to Transmen is roughly 3:1, but the ratio in fiction is still a much higher number."

  2. On one hand, we have these complaints. On the other hand, I've seen numerous complaints claiming Linkle only exists because Tecmo Koei is "giving in to the SJWs." I find this ironic and amusing.

    Side note: Yo-Kai Watch also handles its protagonists in the Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum way.

    1. ...Hold on I'm still sleepy. Wot's ironic about it? <_<

      I like how me picking a random game I like right at the end of the writing process because I remembered I needed to have something constructive in the article is "the way".

    2. You don't find it ironic that Group 1 hates Linkle for existing to appease Group 2, while Group 2 hates Linkle for existing to appeal to Group 1? Sure, it's more complicated than that, but you still end up with a character who manages to offend both groups. xD

      Well, when I first heard Yo-Kai Watch allowed you to pick your gender, I thought it would just be a gender swap and you'd play as a female version of Nate. Instead, you play one of his friends who exists in the series already, with Nate still in the game as a friend. So when you mentioned Diamond/Pearl/Platinum handling it that was as an example of "the right way," I wanted to give Yo-Kai Watch credit, too.

    3. Yo-Kai Watch probably thanks you.

      So the character offends both groups but was made to make them both happy?

    4. So no one actually cares about Linkle herself, but she is a vehicle merely to channel each group's mutual dislike of one another?

    5. Who knows what Tecmo Koei had in mind. For all we know, they just have people who like designing genderbent characters. Fan art does this sort of thing all the time. xD

    6. Exactly.

      Fan art.
      That's the quality of design Linkle is.

  3. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, Linkle may be a lazily designed clone of Link. On the other hand, feminists abhor her inclusion, I find myself in qutie a predicament.

    1. The best thing is not to get involved.

      The second-best thing (what I did) is to stick to your principles regardless of who ends up being your bed-fellow.

    2. Fuck your principles nigga

    3. Eat some chicken fingers and fries, maybe watch some sports while doin it

    4. Is the chicken fried?

      So basically you're sayin' you don't give a damn about Linkle, and you don't give a damn about what other people think about Linkle.

  4. I didn't like Linkle the moment I saw her. It's like a fan creation snuck into the LoZ world somehow. It's uncreative. It's canned. Yep, all she is, is a female version of Link. That's it. That's as far as she'll go. And I hope she stays there.

    1. Maybe she'll be relegated to the same place that David Jr.., Knuckle, and Ankle hang out nowadays.

      ...nevermind they appeared in Minish Cap too which isn't a bad gig.


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