Nintendo recently shut down the rumors claiming that the hero of Legend of Zelda, Link, could be a female character.
At E3 2016, the producer behind the Zelda series, Eiji Aonuma, explained that the Link we see in the new Wii U Zelda game is a male from the get-go.
Aonuma admits that his poor communication with fans led them to believe that Link could get a gender spin-off. In his statements from 2014, when the game was announced, he does leave room for interpretation. However, he pointed out that his intention was to underline that the game was far from completion.
"I [...] had no intention of leading people into believing Link was female," Aonuma told Kotaku at this year's event.
Aonuma also gave an alternate explanation why the main protagonist Link has to remain a male character. He points out that in the Zelda universe, there is something called the Triforce balance, which is a triangle formed by Princess Zelda, Link and Ganon. Nintendo concedes that Princess Zelda should remain female, and this poses a problem.
"If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce," Aonuma says.
Gamers familiar with the series will object and point out that this is canonically inaccurate. Far from being based on Zelda, Ganon and Link, the Triforce is actually a synergy of three traits - power, courage and wisdom. All three were a gift from the three (how ironical) goddesses who crafted Hyrule.
Zelda, Ganon and Link are mere personifications of the traits, and the Triforce could theoretically manifest itself via other characters that populate the universe. There is little evidence that the Triforce or its constituent parts are in any way gender-based.
Gamespot also questioned the producer about switching the main characters, so that Princess Zelda takes the reigns of the action in a next installment. This variant was also rejected by Nintendo.
The company claims that it was difficult to transform Zelda into a fighting main character, as this would undermine Link's importance to the story.
It is a bit dismaying to see that Nintendo abides to rigid gender roles and refuses to listen to fans, who have been asking for a feminine Link for some time now. Should the he/she dynamic be that important to the game developers, they could always go along with a Prince Zelda.
Keep in mind that Nintendo did release a game with a feminine Link protagonist in it. That character, called Linkle, first appeared in the 3DS variant of Hyrule Warriors. In the Wii U version dating back to 2014, the players can choose from a slew of characters belonging to Zelda lore. However, a lady Link is not one of them.
Aonuma notes that the idea of a female Link for the Wii U Zelda inspired Yousuke Hayashi, the producer of Hyrule Warriors, to take the innovative approach in the 3DS installment of the title. Take note that the new character is not precisely a feminine Link, since her backstory, fighting style and arsenal are different from his. The resemblance is limited to the name and apparel of the character.