The Legend of Zelda’s titular princess has needed to disguise herself a number of times throughout the series. Here is each instance explained.
Though Princess Zelda is the eponymous character of the The Legend of Zelda, players almost always inhabit Link, a warrior reincarnated whenever the kingdom is in trouble. Zelda often plays a role in guiding Link, but when she does so most directly, she usually appears in a disguise or in an alternate form.
In The Legend of Zelda‘s universe, Princess Zelda was originally the mortal incarnation of the goddess Hylia. Now, every Zelda in the games is her descendant, bound by a sacred bloodline to protect the kingdom of Hyrule. Occasionally, Zelda also receives the Triforce of Wisdom, adding the essence of the goddess Nayru to her persona. These deific implications are used to explain why Zelda is such a wise character, as well as some of her more ethereal abilities, such as telepathy and other magical powers.
Three times in The Legend of Zelda games, Princess Zelda has taken on an alternate form to more directly involve herself in Link’s quest. In Ocarina of Time, she disguises herself as Sheik; in The Wind Waker, she takes the form of a young pirate Tetra; and in Spirt Tracks, she can possess enemy Phantoms to be controlled by the player, directly aiding Link’s dungeon crawling.
Every Princess Zelda Disguise – Sheik
Sheik is Zelda’s most recognizable alter ego, so much so that transforming into Sheik was a key part of her Super Smash Bros. debut. He first appears in Ocarina of Time after Link awakens from his seven-year sleep, tasking Link with awakening the Seven Sages to defeat Ganon. He’s also responsible for teaching Link several magical songs and how to use the Master Sword to time travel. When Sheik reveals himself to be Zelda at the end of the game, she explains she needed to create the disguise in order to hide from the evil forces after her.
Every Princess Zelda Disguise – Tetra
The Wind Waker’s Tetra, on the other hand, is a full character of her own, unaware of her true identity. She is a pirate captain, driven by the legacy of her deceased mother. She is a tough, strong leader, though not without compassion. As with Sheik, she appears at different points in the game’s narrative, offering to help Link in his quest to rescue his sister and defeat Ganondorf. Ganondorf, wielding the Triforce of Power, is the first character to realize Tetra is actually Zelda. Tetra herself only believes it when the Triforce of Wisdom reveals the truth to her. She plays out most of the rest of The Wind Waker as Princess Zelda, but she reappears as Tetra at the end of the game and retains the persona throughout its direct sequel, Phantom Hourglass.
Every Princess Zelda Disguise – Phantom Zelda
One of Zelda’s most powerful alternate forms is Spirit Track’s Phantom Zelda. Separated from her body, Zelda’s spirit is able to possess hulking enemy Phantoms, using their armor and weapons to aid Link. When Zelda is in Phantom form, players have the option to switch controls to her – one of the few times in The Legend of Zelda that Princess Zelda is actually a playable character. As Phantom Zelda, she has incredible strength, able to carry Link on her shield or stop boulders in her path. She can also use her wits to distract enemy Phantoms, giving Link an opportunity to sneak around.
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