When it comes to classic video games, many players would agree that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the best of all time.
Originally released in 1991, this third game in the Zelda franchise takes Link on an adventure to save Hyrule, while introducing game features that are now a standard part of the franchise, including alternate worlds and the Master Sword.
However, one father, Tony Smith, wanted to make the title even more relatable to today's gaming generation, which includes both men and women. Unlike others, though, who have hacked the game to make Link female, Smith decided to make the game relatable to everyone by making Link gender-neutral, so that Link could be pretty much anyone.
Smith began by taking a cue from Kenna W, who previously hacked the game so that Zelda becomes the main character.
"In addition to Kenna W's character-swapped version, I wanted to create a version of the game that kept the original characters intact but allowed for Link to be completely gender-neutral," wrote Smith on his blog. "Since Link's graphical appearance in A Link to the Past is fairly androgynous to begin with, the only aspect of the game that needed to be "fixed" was all of the in-game dialogue referring to Link as a boy."
Changing the dialogue proved fairly easy: all references to Link as a "boy" or "son" got changed to "kid." However, Smith got creative when the game referenced Link as a "he." He decided on using the old English "ye," which works in the context of the game's setting, as well as pulls the gamer more into the role of Link.
Smith did all of this with his six-month-old daughter in mind. She's not quite old enough to play video games yet, but he hopes that when she is, she'll have the opportunity to play characters that aren't defined by gender. However, his new version of the game is available for download to everyone who has a clean ROM file image of the original game, something like xdelta (for applying binary .vcdiff patches) and an SNES emulator or a device that can play SNES ROM files.
"My hope is that Nintendo and/or ROM hackers can join the cause and create gender-neutral versions of the rest of the Zelda series (and all of the other classic games) so that by the time my daughter stops chewing on joysticks, she'll be able to have just as satisfying of a personal gaming experience as the opposite sex has been able to enjoy for all these years," writes Smith.
Photo: Tony Smith