The chronology of the Legend of Zelda series was a subject of much debate among fans until an official timeline was released within the Hyrule Historia collector's book, which was first released in Japan in December 2011. Prior to its release, producers confirmed the existence of a confidential document, which connected all the games. Certain materials and developer statements once partially established an official timeline of the released installments. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original The Legend of Zelda, and takes place several years later. The third game, A Link to the Past, is a prequel to the first two games, and is directly followed by Link's Awakening. Ocarina of Time is a prequel that takes the story many centuries back; according to character designer Satoru Takizawa, it was meant to implicitly tell the story of the Imprisoning War from the manual of A Link to the Past, with Majora's Mask directly following its ending. Skyward Sword is then a prequel to Ocarina of Time. Twilight Princess is set more than 100 years after Ocarina of Time.
Shigeru Miyamoto has stated that Zelda's name was inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald. The name Zelda is generally believed to be Germanic in origin, meaning "gray fighting maid" or "woman warrior" and derived from the Old German Griselda ("dark battle"). Another possible origin is the Old English word selde ("companion"). Additionally, it is a Yiddish name meaning "happiness" or "luck".
Several years passed, with Zelda remaining the same because of the curse. Link, who had become sixteen, learned of this tragedy and sets off on a journey to reclaim the lost section of the Triforce to lift the curse. Once Link gains the full Triforce, he goes back to the palace where Zelda resides in and disperses the curse. Now free from the curse, Zelda thanks Link and calls him a "real hero" for saving Hyrule. The curtains then fall as Link and Zelda appear to embrace each other.
In the Hyrule Warriors series, Princess Zelda acts as the Supreme Leader of the Hyrulean Forces and the Hyrulean Soldiers bravely serve her in much the same way as in Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time. Despite her role as a military commander, she retains the compassion for the soldiers that serve under her but chooses to fight alongside them rather than protected by them. In turn her soldiers are very loyal to her and she can raise their moral with words alone, though this can be a double-edged sword as they become quite demoralized when she goes missing and were it not for the leadership of Link and Impa, the entire Hyrulean Forces may have been defeated by the Dark Forces. Though she later returned to fight alongside them under her guise as Sheik, they did not recognize her (though to be fair neither did Impa) and continued to search for the missing Princess. However they were relived when her identity was revealed and did not hold her deception against her. They also did not abandon her or Hyrule when Ganondorf managed to steal the Triforce of Courage and Triforce of Wisdom and later joined her in invading Gerudo Desert in order to defeat Ganondorf's generals, Zant and Ghirahim. After managing to defeat the villains, Zelda would lead her army to reclaim Hyrule Castle and defeat Ganondorf's Forces. The surviving soldiers would also fight alongside Zelda and her allies in the final battle against Ganon.
Mega Man is the protagonist from the comic book series. He also appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe and Sonic Boom during the crossovers Worlds Collide and Worlds Unite. Aside from those appearances, Mega Man had a cameo appearance as a statue in the cover of Sonic the Hedgehog #89 (only his torso can be seen, behind the title) and a spray painting in the introduction page of Sonic Super Special #10. He was also vaguely referenced a few times in Sonic the Hedgehog #252.
100 hundred years later, Zelda telepathically speaks to an awakened Link, giving him words of advice. At Hyrule Castle, Zelda aids Link in his battle with Calamity Ganon's second form, Dark Beast Ganon, gifting him with the Light Bow and giving him advice on how to defeat him. After Link hits Ganon's weak spot, Zelda herself appears, freed from her own sealing magic. She then uses her powers to seal away Ganon for good, entrapping him in an explosion of light. As she and Link reunite face-to-face for the first time in a hundred years, she asks him with a smile if he remembers her. At the end of the game, Link and Zelda walk towards their horses to begin their new adventure together. Interestingly, it is revealed by Kass after completing all of his shrine quest riddles, that his mentor had been in love with the princess, yet noticed she "only had eyes for her appointed knight". This hints that Zelda holds deep feelings toward Link, with it being unclear if Link reciprocates these feelings.
After a five-year hiatus, the series made the transition to 3D with Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64, which was released in November 1998. This game, initially known as Zelda 64, retains the core gameplay of the previous 2D games, and was very successful commercially and critically. It is considered by many critics and gamers to be the best video game of all time, and ranks highly on IGN and EGM's "greatest games of all time" lists, as well as scoring perfect scores in several video game publications. In February 2006, it was ranked by Nintendo Power as the best game released for a Nintendo console. The game was originally developed for the poorly selling, Japanese-only Nintendo 64DD, but was ported to cartridge format when the 64DD hardware was delayed. A new gameplay mechanic, lock-on targeting (called "Z-targeting" as that is the controller button used), is used in the game, which focuses the camera on a nearby target and alters the player's actions relative to that target. Such mechanics allow precise sword fighting in a 3D space. The game heavily uses context-sensitive button play, which enabled the player to control various actions with Link using only one button on the Nintendo 64's game pad. Each action was handled slightly differently but all used the 'A' button to perform. For instance, standing next to a block and pressing 'A' made Link grab it (enabling him to push/pull it), but moving forwards into a block and pressing 'A' allowed Link to climb the block. The 'B' button was used only as an attack button. The game featured the first appearance of Link's horse, Epona, allowing Link to travel quickly across land and fire arrows from horseback. Those who preordered the game received a gold-coloured cartridge in a limited edition box with a golden plastic card affixed, reading "Collector's Edition". In some stores that had this "Collector's Edition" quickly sell out, a small and rare Zelda pin was given instead. It is the sword and shield emblem with "Zelda" written on it. Very few of them are known to remain.
Three main installments, as well as one online game, were published for the PlayStation 2 (PS2). Final Fantasy X (2001) introduced full 3D areas and voice acting to the series, and was the first to spawn a direct video game sequel (Final Fantasy X-2, published in 2003). The first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) in the series, Final Fantasy XI, was released on the PS2 and PC in 2002, and later on the Xbox 360. It introduced real-time battles instead of random encounters. Final Fantasy XII, published in 2006, also includes real-time battles in large, interconnected playfields. The game is also the first in the main series to utilize a world used in a previous game, namely the land of Ivalice, which had previously featured in Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story.