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In upcoming 'Legend of Zelda' game, the titular princess takes center stage for the first time

 "The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom" casts Zelda in the starring role.
Courtesy of Nintendo
"The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom" casts Zelda in the starring role.

For the first time in nearly forty years, Princess Zelda is starring in the blockbuster video game series that bears her name.

The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom” comes out Sept. 26. Nintendo just dropped a surprise trailer for the game that’s already spawned numerous commentary videos and speculative articles.

“I was shocked,” says Polygon Deputy Games editor Maddy Myers. “One of my reporters insisted to me that this game was in development, and I just didn't believe him.”

Her skepticism was well-founded. Series producer Eiji Aonuma had long prioritized Link, the games’ traditional green-clad hero. In a 2016 interview, he asked Gamespot, “If we have Princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?”

Aonuma has evidently changed his mind. After a mysterious purple rift consumes Link, Zelda’s quest to save Hyrule involves less sword fighting and more puzzle-solving and creature-collecting. The new gameplay continues the franchise’s penchant for reinvention. Its most recent titles “Breath of the Wild” and “Tears of the Kingdom” took innovative swingsthat won record acclaim and sales.

But while Zelda has taken on many pivotal roles over the decades, she’s never served as a game’s main playable character. “She is usually the princess that the player saves,” says Myers. “But now she gets to take on an action role and solve problems.”

Zelda’s not the only leading lady that Nintendo’s recently elevated. The company just announced “Metroid Prime 4: Beyond,” a long-awaited game starring Samus Aran, a spacefaring bounty hunter who first appeared in 1986. Earlier this year, Princess Peach headlined her own game after the “Super Mario Bros.” Movie she featured in made over a billion dollars.

“I think, finally, Nintendo is realizing that this has frustrated players for a long time,” says Myers. “But as somebody who's been covering games for a very long time and playing them since I was a kid, I'm really delighted that kids these days get to grow up in a world where it's totally normal to get to point to the pink princess on screen and say, I want to play as her and actually get to do that.”

This piece originally appeared on

James Perkins Mastromarino produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Micaela Rodriguez. Perkins Mastromarino also adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on Here & Now on June 19, 2024.

Copyright 2024 WBUR

Corrected: June 23, 2024 at 12:13 PM EDT
The name of the series producer of Zelda was misspelled in an earlier version of this story. He is Eiji Aonuma, not Auonuma.
David Folkenflik
[Copyright 2024 Four Corners Public Radio]
James Perkins Mastromarino
James Perkins Mastromarino is Here & Now's Washington, D.C.-based producer. He works with NPR's newsroom on a daily whirlwind of topics that range from Congress to TV dramas to outer space. Mastromarino also edits NPR's Join the Game and reports on gaming for daily shows like All Things Considered and Morning Edition.