Hey readers! It’s Mod Zan, back and better than ever. I’m writing to you all today in the midst of Zelda week, hyping with the rest of the team about the drop of the Switch in less than 24 hours and all of the good times that we’ve all had with Zelda games. Zelda has been a part of gaming for longer than I’ve been alive, and there are plenty of reasons to love each game in the franchise. In my part of our Zelda mashup, I talked about my favorite Zelda game: Twilight Princess. I could talk about how great Twilight Princess was for hours, from the art style to the story, the music, the characters, the quests, the gameplay, pretty much anything and everything because I loved the shit out of that game. But there’s one part of Twilight Princess that matters more to me than anything else.
Midna is Link’s companion character throughout the course of Twilight Princess. She’s a cursed princess with an agenda, three things that I personally am always looking for in a character. From the get-go, she proves to be unlike any other companion that Link has ever had. There’s a million reasons to love her, but lucky for you I’m here to break it down.
- She’s adorable…and snarky!
I had to save the first for the most obvious! Midna has a lot of amazing moments throughout the game, and her sense of humor is bar none. She’s mischievous and doesn’t appear to take things seriously despite the dire state of Hyrule in the game, but I never felt as though she had the level of annoyance that companion characters often inflict on the player. Her snarky nature and biting remarks helped lift the mood in some of the game’s darker moments (which were numerous!), and seeing someone who doesn’t just think that Link is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hyrule from the get-go is a nice change!
- She’s a really useful companion character!
Midna is a strong character in general, but one of her actual functions in-game is to act as Link’s companion throughout the story, helping him along with her various powers. Whether it’s helping with long jumps, or opening doors, or even engaging creatures in combat, Midna is useful throughout the entire game without being overpowering. There have been many other games that featured companion characters that were just as useful, like in Bioshock Infinite, and there have been many others that had companion characters that were…less successful. Midna stays relevant to gameplay and story without losing her individuality, which is rare in games.
- She’s got an amazing story arc!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a sucker for a good story in a game. Midna’s story makes up an entire subplot of the game, and is completely intertwined with Link’s main quest. She’s a dethroned princess under an unbreakable curse, and is fully up front with Link from the beginning that she’s got her own agenda. Her throne was usurped by Zant, who used Ganondorf’s power to force her into her imp form. She’s on a mission to regain back her throne and her old self, and it’s a goal that she never loses sight of throughout the course of the game despite helping Link and Zelda out in the end. In many games, especially games with “strong female characters,” the strong lady has her own interests and story up until a (usually very quickly revealed) point, where she realizes that she was wrong all along and she should drop whatever she was doing to help the main character. He is usually a manly man who probably doesn’t need her help anyway, or some dude who she trained in the beginning for like 10 minutes but is now somehow better at her job than she is. This doesn’t happen with Midna, and it’s something that I find myself looking for in a lot of games with female characters. She remains steadfast in her goals until the very end, but this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t grow. Which brings me to my next point…
- She’s got amazing character development!
(Not) sorry guys, I separate story/motivation from character development because I definitely believe that the two can diverge! In Midna’s case, her character development is one of the best parts of having her in the game. She goes from a self-serving chaotic neutral imp to a caring, friendly but still pretty mischievous ally of Hyrule. Midna never takes her eyes off of the prize, but still grows enough to truly care about Hyrule, Link, and Zelda. She admits to caring about them and sticks around to help after a timeline that feels paced perfectly. Her interest in helping them grows organically the longer she travels with Link, and it feels like she’s got a real reason for it. Sometimes, everyone who at first didn’t care about the main character magically gains empathy after an event that no one actually gave a shit about. She avoids becoming a manic pixie dream girl by keeping her goals throughout the game, and Link never really changes his personality either from the basic, slightly awkward but loyal hero that we all know and love.
- She’s super powerful!
Just for the record, I definitely don’t think that power is everything. Midna definitely needs some help at first to regain her power after her unfortunate run-in with Zant. However, throughout the game she is never presented as anything other than super powerful, with the ability to shape-shift, teleport, create force fields, and even energy beams to destroy your enemies. She’s got a lot of great combat expertise that often is disallowed from female characters in games. To diverge slightly from Midna, this is also something I did enjoy about Zelda in this game (though I felt that there was still a lot to be desired from her). Zelda is pictured as having very powerful magic and is even utilized in the last battle! Midna does a lot of her own fighting, almost as much as she helps out Link with his. And I think that’s AWESOME!
For the sake of credibility, I do want to put a disclaimer in as I wrap up this Midna love-rant: I don’t think Twilight Princess is above criticism! The game passes the Sexy Lamp Test for Midna, and barely passes it with Zelda, but doesn’t really pass it with Ilia. It passes the Bechdel Test, and in my opinion the Mako Mori Test as well! But it fails the Antifreeze Test (which states that no women can be harmed purely for the benefit of the male character’s development). There are three important female characters to Link in this game: Midna, Zelda, and Ilia. ALL of them are injured or thought to be dead to further Link’s story development throughout the game, and all of them are hurt not once, but at least two times! And in the end I have to question why the game was about Link at all when it looked like Midna could have done most of this by herself! I love Link as much as the next gal, but his character development fell a little short, just as Zelda’s did. Zelda has some good moments, but really doesn’t do much but look serene in her tower prison.
Yet, in the end, I think that Twilight Princess is still the best Zelda game made to date. And yes, Midna is the saving grace of that game for me. She’s iconic in a way that many of the characters in The Legend of Zelda are not, and is remembered for reasons that go far beyond her appearance. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my first favorite video game lady, and I hope that Breath of the Wild will give me new reasons to love Zelda as much as I already do.