Admit it: At one point or another, you were confused that the sword-wielding and fire-jumping boy in The Legend of Zelda is Link, not Zelda – a princess that you won’t meet unless you manage to beat the evil wizard Gangon at the end of the classic game. But why does Link have to do all the work? If given the chance, could Zelda hack it as a Hyrule-saving heroine?
As first reported by Kotaku, graphic designer Kenna W was inspired by Mike Mika’s work on hacking Donkey Kong so his daughter could play as herself and rescue Mario. Kenna W enlisted her game programmer boyfriend to help rework Zelda so that the princess is a playable character. Using the sprite editor Tile Layer Pro, she was able to swap out Link and replace him with Zelda, pixel by pixel, so Zelda could be the one with the sword and shield.
It turns out swapping out Link for Zelda in the animation was the easy part, but figuring out what to do with Link now that he is no longer the defacto hero became a bit of an existential crisis. As Kenna said in her blog post detailing her hack of The Legend of Zelda, “When you take away the sword, who is [Link]? Just some guy that can’t get out of a room?” Ultimately, she re-wrote the opening scroll to the game to make Link the hostage of Gangon, which completely changes The Legend of Zelda that we grew up with. It seems Zelda is just as capable of saving Hyrule as Link. Maybe Kenna should rename her version of the game to The Legend of Link.