The Legend of Zelda’s Link may be able to hold his own against Ganon, but how would he fare against some of gaming’s biggest villains?
Video games are home to a number of great heroes, protagonists who have the ability to beat the odds through skill and determination. As the player becomes their avatar, the experience of battling great evils feels personal. For dedicated players, it’s easy to become acquainted with the strength and limitations of the character being controlled. That in mind, one of the protagonists that many players find themselves able to project themselves onto is Link.
Link, the protagonist of The Legend of Zelda, needs no introduction. Over the course of the franchise, various Links have taken on great evils of all sorts. From the demon-boar that is Ganon to the rogue’s gallery in the spin-off titles, Link has fought a number of evils. However, with his skillset in mind, how does he stack up against some of gaming’s other great villains?
Starting off with another iconic Nintendo character, Bowser is hardly a threat. King Koopa may come in many forms and occasionally boast incredible power, but, in his basic form, he’s a big turtle that breathes fire. Against a skillset consisting of mostly jumps, he’s a reasonable threat.
However, stacked up against Link, he’s no more dangerous than a simple miniboss. Fans of Super Mario 64 are likely already aware of his crippling weakness to bombs, but, even without bombs, Bowser isn’t that dangerous. It may take a bit of persistence, but most people would agree that Link could easily defeat Bowser.
Mewtwo is questionably a villain. In the canon of the Pokémon games exclusively, Mewtwo isn’t any more actively malicious than other Pokémon. Even if the anime appearances are considered canon, Mewtwo isn’t as much of a villain as he’s initially made out to be. The only monsters in the Pokémon series are irresponsible and power-hungry trainers.
Despite that, for the purposes of this article, this legendary Pokémon will be considered a villain. Mewtwo’s power could likely overwhelm the Hero of Hyrule—and any of his other incarnations. Being one of the most powerful pokémon in canon, his psychic ability is second-to-few, and he has the speed to match. Link has handled his fair share of mystical creatures, but Mewtwo is on another level.
Sticking with Nintendo properties and Smash Bros. characters, King K. Rool of Donkey Kong Country fame is another classic villain. In the various titles, K. Rool has a number of tools at his disposal from cannonballs to boxing gloves to entire war machines. He’s proven a worthy adversary for Donkey Kong time and time again… if he decides to actually show up.
Similarly to Bowser, K. Rool likely wouldn’t pose a huge threat to Link. While strange weapons and powerful punches are good at dispatching unarmed Kongs, Link is a different story entirely. K. Rool would absolutely have better odds than Bowser, but, with enough tools, Link could easily dethrone the king.
In trying to find even-ish matches for Link, one of the first that came to mind was Goro Akechi from Persona 5. This pretty boy detective is revealed to be a villain later in the game, although it’s not the most shocking of twists. Akechi is a person with two faces; one is a kind and thoughtful detective, the other is a literal psychopath murderer.
Akechi, while not the most dangerous on the surface, is capable of pushing Link to his limits. He’s already an even match for four Persona-users, wielding an array of magic, skilled swordplay, and a collection of shadows at his disposal. The sheer viciousness of Akechi’s personality is enough to keep him motivated to push through any pain and finish the fight for the side of evil.
Yes, Dracula, the one featured in the Castlevania series. The eternal enemy of the Belmont clan may find some success, but he exists to be killed and reborn over and over again. His magical powers vary as much as his physical form, giving him a wide array of powers that are pit against the Belmonts. Across time and space, Dracula is the ultimate evil.
However, obviously, he’s not unkillable. Being killed is part of the Dracula life, in a way. Link’s move set isn’t quite in line with what the Belmonts would bring to a fight, but it does give him similar edges. Link even has more utility at his disposal that would help to deal with the more pesky parts of a battle with Dracula.
A number of Final Fantasy villains could be added here, but Sephiroth is included for being arguably the most iconic Final Fantasy villain. The former SOLDIER, driven mad and devoted to the destruction of the planet, has immense power beyond his physical form. He’s a serious threat to a party of fully-equipped mercenaries, and that’s not even including his final forms.
Link would actually not be completely outclassed in a fight. It would be incredibly tough, but Link has fought bigger and tougher opponents in straight on duels in the past. However, Sephiroth also has magic beyond what Link is used to dealing with. But, most people would get wiped by a Super Nova, so at least Link’s not alone in getting demolished.
Speaking of ancient evils, how about Diablo himself? The Diablo series has taken inspiration from The Legend of Zelda in the past, so bringing this Lord of Hell into the theoretical fray only makes sense. Diablo has the power to manipulate people and wreck civilizations, and, even banished to the mortal realm and sealed away, he still held immense power.
Considering some of the villains Link loses to, it would make sense that he’d lose to Diablo as well, right? Not exactly. Link’s set of weapons and skills is actually pretty perfect to take on the Lord of Hell. In fact, he’d fit right in alongside the other classes in the game. It would absolutely be a challenging battle, but Link is more than capable of defeating Diablo.
Looking at another franchise rooted in a fantastical world of swords and sorcery, Alduin from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim would be quite the match for Link. Alduin is a being that was so powerful that he had to be sent through time to be subdued. Even with the shout called Dragonrend, the three Nordic heroes could not defeat Alduin.
Link packs an arsenal that would be fine to challenge the dragon. If Link were to have similar capabilities to that of the Dragonborn in terms of using shouts, he would likely be able to subdue Alduin. However, Alduin is pretty much unkillable within the lore of the series. He’s dispatched pretty much through locking him in an eternal conflict in Sovngarde. Link would never be able to truly rid the world of this evil dragon.
This is the obligatory Dark Souls reference. Dark Souls certainly has its fair share of bits inspired by The Legend of Zelda, so it makes sense to include it here. So, the representative will be the final boss of the first Dark Souls title, Lord Gwyn. The lore is incredibly complicated for Dark Souls, but Gwyn is a slayer of dragons and helped to usher in the Age of Dark. He’s also absolutely a dangerous adversary.
Despite that, Link would defeat Gwyn. Regardless of what a specific, over-reposted webcomic may fool you into believing, Link would absolutely survive in the world of Dark Souls and challenge its bosses with ease. He has the determination and skill set to do so. Defeating Gwyn would be as easy as anything else is in the series… which is still reasonably difficult.
Giygas is the final boss of Earthbound, another ancient evil with immense psychic power. Giygas is formless, and, although it acts with intelligence in terms of world domination, still can have its mind broken. Once an alien raised by a loving family, Giygas has since transcended comprehension.
Giygas may be an ancient evil, one of Link’s favorite flavors of foe, but Giygas is beyond compare. In Earthbound, Giygas is only truly defeated through the power of hope and friendship being transmitted across time. Link may have a collection of friends across the ever-changing Zelda timeline, but he still wouldn’t be able to understand the form of Giygas’s attacks.
NEXT: Zelda & The Witcher: 5 Reasons Link Could Beat Geralt (& 5 Reasons Geralt Wins)
Tanner Kinney is a writer, podcaster, radio show host, and game-player based in Indiana. He has previously written for and helped lead a student publication about entertainment in college before writing for GameRant. A student in the Telecommunications program at Ball State University, Tanner uses his skills in media analysis to find the right way to pick apart any topic at hand. He’s a Japanese role-playing game fanatic and Chikorita enthusiast, owning maybe one too many Pokemon plushes.
The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo, Link
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