It’s no secret that the Legend of Zelda series has a dark side. From day one there were ghouls in the graveyard, with the horror influence only escalating as games came and went. The corrupt Dark World of A Link to the Past, for example, led to Ocarina of Time‘s bleak future – and with that came a town square overrun with the haunting cries of the Redead. Not to mention the hideous monstrosities of the Shadow Temple, a dungeon marked by the words “Here is gathered Hyrule’s bloody history of greed and hatred…“. Nintendo continued to up the “give children nightmares” ante with Majora’s Mask, one of Zelda‘s darkest chapters. Anything from the crazed moon, the bone chilling half Man/half Gibdo of Ikana Canyon and even that creepy “Elegy of Emptiness” face can be considered scary, but Twilight Princess arguably takes the trophy for most frightening Zelda cut-scenes to date with the placid Yeta’s transformation into a crazed boss
These lurkers are the real thing, but what’s often overlooked are the growing amount of everyday creepers in the series. You know the ones, the people on the street who seem like they could snap at any minute. The ones who you’re not sure whether they want to give you a hug or wring your neck. That guy yelling too loud on the bus, for example, or the woman who stares at you for a little to long from that same street corner every day. A ghoul is a ghoul, but a mysterious stranger? That’s where the true horror lies. So to tie in with the Halloween spirit we speculate like crazy over the mysterious intentions of our top 5 Legend of Zelda Everyday Creepers.
#5 Maggie’s Father
The Wind Waker boasts one of the most family-friendly art styles of all the Legend of Zelda titles, but that doesn’t stop it from hosting its fair share of creepers. For the first half of the game, Maggie’s Father walks circles around a tree on Windfall Island day in day out, searching for his next victim. When you (as Link) walk passed, he snaps to attention and chases you down with a ferocity, babbling about his kidnapped daughter who he expects you (a rather young pup) to save. At first you feel sorry for him, an old man grieving over the loss of his daughter is a heart-breaking thing indeed, but as it happens over and over attitudes begin to change. You start doing your best to avoid him, for every interaction means enduring the same crazy story. Eventually, the conflict goes so far as running as fast as little Link’s feet will carry you in the opposite direction, causing him to chase you through the streets of Windfall Island. Creeper indeed.
In the Town of Ruto from Zelda II: The Adventures of Link lurks the mysterious stranger ‘Error’, a man who keeps to himself, repeating the phrase: “I am Error”. Some believe he is referring to a grievous mistake he made in the past, others believe that a bug in the game replaced his real name with “error” – but the third story is the most chilling, and not at all something that we just now made up. The expression “I am Error” is hardly human, but more something a malfunctioning robot might say. A cyborg, if you will, that has been living peacefully amongst the people of Hyrule for years. But now he is malfunctioning, falling prey to a fatal error that could make him capable of anything. What’s worse? He’s not the only threat. Across the land in the Water Town of Saria lives Bagu, a similar looking individual who only speaks the phrase “I am Bagu”, ‘Bagu’ being the romanised Japanese spelling for ‘Bug’. The robot plague is spreading, the cyborgs are awakening and, with Link distracted by Zelda’s illness, who then will save the doomed land of Hyrule from the rise of the machines?
#3 Old Man/Old Woman
OK Old Man, it is dangerous to go alone, I’ll take your sword. But in a world full of monsters and peril, why is he really giving his sword to Link, you ask? Well, dear reader, maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be associated with it any more. Maybe it links him to something darker, something more sinister. Maybe, just maybe, this Old Man, living in the caves under Hyrule… is a murderer. Hear me out. Somehow, this “Old Man” is able to make his way all over Hyrule with ease, popping up in caves across the land, even making the odd appearance in dungeons from time to time. On top of this, the “Old Man” asks Link to take his letter to the “Old Woman” when Link has to go topside and fight his way through to do so while the “Old Man” seems to get around just fine via what is probably a series of intricate underground tunnels. My theory is, that this “Old Man” IS the “Old Woman”, disguising himself as such in a classic “Norman Bates” manoeuvre, half to deal with his own guilt but mostly to throw off the scent. You see, it wasn’t always this way, the Old Man and the Old Woman once loved each other, even probably lived together. But for whatever reason (maybe it was Ganon’s influence, or maybe one day he just cracked) the Old Man killed his wife, his love, and his only connection to humanity, thus splitting his consciousness in twain. In order to cover up the vicious murder, the Old Man gives away the murder weapon in an act of “charity” to a young cocksure hero who happened to stumble into his cave. The Old Man then disposes of the body in sections, giving her heart, her blood and her belongings to travelers throughout the land disguised as healing potions with life benefits (using a heart to increase your life-force seems rather Pagan doesn’t it?) . If this is true, he’s covered his tracks well. Too well. So well, that only someone with a strong nose might be able to sniff out the truth. But, shhh! It’s a secret to everybody.
#2 Happy Mask Salesman
One of the most mysterious Zelda characters around, the happy mask salesman’s portrayal in Majora’s Mask seems straight out of a David Lynch film. Who is he? What is he? WHEN is he? These are all valid questions, as little is explained about this travelling vagabond. But looking past the lifeless eyes of the masks that adorn his bag, past the over eager expression he bears, past the unsettling swaying to and fro, and past the constant clasping of his hands as if he were holding something precious, trapping it from ever seeing light again, keeping it for his very own, we have the song of healing scene. In which the Happy Mask Salesman’s expression changes (to match this frightful OoT scene) from his constant Elegy of Emptiness smile to that of a crazed lunatic in a span of seconds, picking Link up and shaking him bodily like a man possessed! On top of this, his tagline “You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?” speaks for itself.
Tingle. The Michael Jackson of the Zelda universe, without the fame to fall back on. He’s a 35 year old man who dreams of being a fairy, so instead of accepting his fate of being born human he decides to dress up in some rather unflattering green tights and float around the fields of whatever land he inhabits via a red balloon hidden in his backback. He uses his talent in cartography to communicate with kids, loving to play and teach them the magic words Tingle created himself “Tingle Tingle Kooloo-Limpah!”. Not only that, but in The Wind Waker he even ropes his brothers in to dress as he does, forcing them to keep his island house spinning while he dances around like a loon, charging ridiculous prices to read maps for tourists. “But why is he number one?”, you ask? Imagine, looking up at the sky and seeing a red balloon. Curious, you grab out your binoculars to get a better look as your children play happily in the park below. And then, you see it.