More than 10 years later, Nintendo is righting its Zelda and Peach crimes

More than 10 years later, Nintendo is righting its Zelda and Peach crimes

Princess Zelda will be a playable protagonist in a mainline Legend of Zelda game in The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom. Both as far as game design philosophy goes — Zelda doesn’t wield a sword but a wand that can replicate objects — and the choice to make the princess the main character, the game is looking like it represents a daring next step for the Legend of Zelda franchise as a whole. Between that and the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom last year, it’s a thrilling time to be a Zelda fan.

However, Nintendo wasn’t always so bold with its decision to include women in games nor tactful in the way that it portrayed those women when they got their big chance in the spotlight. Just look to Nintendo’s other leading lady, Princess Peach. Her first big foray as protagonist in a Mario game came with the 2005 Nintendo DS game Super Princess Peach. The game featured a “vibe” system whereby Peach could unleash her overwhelming emotions to perform special attacks. It stood out at the time for the way it reinforced stereotypes that women are overly emotional, despite featuring her as the protagonist.

However, 2024 has clearly brought on somewhat of a shift in the way Nintendo sees its princesses. Princess Peach: Showtime! was undoubtedly a step forward for Peach and the way games treat her. Instead of her power being fueled by her uncontrollable emotions, Princess Peach can take on countless forms using theatre props and costumes; she can be as strong as a sword-fighter or as graceful as a figure skater, and once again, she’s the star in a game of her own. And despite not being playable, Princess Zelda took on a very active role in the story of Tears of the Kingdom by working to set Link up for victory (although this interpretation is complicated). Those games are now coupled with the fact that we’ve gotten one of the most important steps of all: playable Zelda.

This is not the first time Princess Zelda has been playable. Players can choose to fight as her in spin-off games like Hyrule Warriors, and she’s playable as a ghost in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass; she’s also playable in Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and 1996’s Zelda’s Adventure. But her appearance in this capacity — starring in her own game — has been long overdue.

The Legend of Zelda continues to be one of the most important video games series in Nintendo history, and it has continued to turn away from Zelda. Like, don’t get me wrong — I still love to play as my twinkified Link and dress him up in cute outfits, but it feels right to try something new. I want to experience The Legend of Zelda as Zelda herself, and now I and a lot of other fans will finally get a real chance to do that when the game comes out on Nintendo Switch on Sept. 26.