Matthew Patrick of The Game Theorists is internet-famous for his work overanalyzing popular video games on his YouTube show, Game Theory. He is extremely clever and well-versed in the history of video games, both as a medium and as an industry. His channel, which features work from collaborators, has deservedly amassed nearly three million followers with well-researched videos showing us new sides to the video games we grew up with. Today, I will show you why MatPat is wrong.

Strength alone does not a better fighter make.

The Game Theorists uploaded a video entitled Game Theory: Which Link Rules them All? (Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors). In it, he goes on to compare and contrast the “11-ish” incarnations of Link throughout the series to determine “which incarnation of Link would prove to be the deadliest warrior”. If you have not seen this video yet, I strongly suggest that you do so before you continue reading this article. Game Theory videos are as perceptive as they are entertaining and hilarious, and this video is no different. Mr. Patrick deftly puts the many versions of Link into perspective, but unfortunately comes to a demonstrably wrong conclusion.

The video reveals that it is in fact the Hero of Time that is the most powerful incarnation, and I will let you watch the video for yourselves to understand the reasons behind the decision. In the interest of full disclosure, the Hero of Time is actually my personal favorite version, and his two games are my longstanding favorites of the series, despite recent criticisms from Egoraptor. That being said, I believe that it is clear why it is actually the Hero of Legend that is the superior fighter. Here is what Game Theory missed:

Why Game Theory is Wrong About Link

Goron Mask

One Mask at a Time, Link!

One of the closing arguments in favor of the beloved Hero of Time was the possession of the transformation masks in Majora’s Mask. These masks bestow upon Link as the wearer “the strength, speed and defense of a Goron, the agility and the ability to fly of a Deku Scrub” and the supreme swimming ability of a Zora.

While this is certainly the case, Link is only ever able to make use of one of these enhancements at a time to the exclusion of the others. In fact, using the Goron Mask makes Link vulnerable to water, even though Gorons were shown in Twilight Princess to actually be able to breathe underwater.

The Master Sword vs Double Helix Sword

As for the Fierce Deity Mask, Matthew Patrick goes on to claim that the Fierce Deity Mask “[equips] you with a sword twice as powerful as the Master Sword”. Even if this were true, the Hero of Legend gets the Golden Sword, estimated at four times more powerful than the Master Sword from whence it came, which would make it no fewer than twice as powerful as Fierce Deity’s sword.

Why Game Theory is Wrong About Link - Twilight Princess

Link lifting a massive cannonball

What Game Theory got right was physical strength. While the Hero of Twilight was able to incredibly lift solid iron orbs over his head without the aid of an item, the Hero of Time wears Golden Gauntlets which give him physical prowess absolutely unparalleled in any of his adventures. However, although I grant that the Hero of Time is physically stronger than the Hero of Legends, I want to make it clear that strength alone does not a better fighter make.

Mohammad Ali vs George Foreman

Knight of Hyrule: 

Vir is a guest contributor to Knights of Hyrule. He is a longtime gamer and the owner of VAgames, a gaming channel where he provides video game reviews, Let's Plays, and much more.

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Comparing Fighting Experiences

Although the video covers almost all of the exploits of both the Hero of Legends and the Hero of Time, I would like to focus on almost. It almost seemed as though MatPat understood my next point when he enumerated the Hero of Legend’s supremely vast questing and combat experience across four games. Unfortunately, he failed to take the thought to the next level to understand that not all experiences are created equal.

The Hero of Time and the Hero of Legend both have experience battling and defeating the Evil King Ganon. However, these situations are not congruent with each other. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Ganon has the entire Triforce in his possession, and the Hero of Legend defeats him with just the Master Sword. On the other hand, Ganon has only a third of the Triforce against The Hero of Time and Zelda with the other two pieces.

Why Game Theory is Wrong About Link - Ganon

Ganon in the Oracles

Despite this, the Hero of Legend defeats Ganon and claims the entire Triforce in the name of righteousness to restore Hyrule. The Hero of Time merely seals Ganon in the “Evil Realm” without reclaiming the Triforce of Power and restoring the complete relic. Furthermore, the Hero of Legend encounters and defeats the mindless body of Ganon at the end of the Oracle series when it is resurrected by the Twinrova, establishing that hero as the only one to defeat Ganon a second time.

Lastly, the very existence of the Hero of Legend is dependent on the fact that the Hero of Time fails. The last nail in this literal coffin is that nearly half of the games in the canon take place in a timeline in which the Hero of Time was, for whatever reason, unable to fulfil his destiny in Ocarina of Time. This alone constitutes sufficient evidence that the Hero of Legend was the superior Link.

With all due respect, Mr. Patrick, you were wrong.

*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Knights of Hyrule staff as a whole.

Knight of Hyrule: 

Vir is a guest contributor to Knights of Hyrule. He is a longtime gamer and the owner of VAgames, a gaming channel where he provides video game reviews, Let's Plays, and much more.

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  • Storym

    I don’t even see how Child Hero of Time could be considered the strongest because he’s a kid. Even if he has a strong mask he’s still no match for any older Link with the equipment they have. Even if he transforms into the Fierce Deity he’s still nothing compared to his Adult Hero of Time form.

    I also think that Twilight is stronger than Time because of the gauntlets part. Just think of how strong Twilight would be if he had them. I’m pretty surprised you chose Past because I always think of him as weaker but like you said it’s not all about strength.

    • To play the devil’s advocate here, there is no objective difference between the adult version of the Hero of Time and the child version of the Hero of Time. Although the game and following lore go to great lengths to demonstrate that there are, in fact, multiple timelines involved, it is only ever one Hero of Time. Put another way, relatively speaking, the Hero of Time’s existence itself is one timeline that traverses multiple encompassing timelines. I know that’s a bit confusing, but the point I’m making here is that the two should not be counted separately.

      In terms of the Hero of Twilight with the Hero of Time’s gauntlets, due to the scales involved, the difference is arbitrary. When you’re talking about lifting several tons, the difference a single iron cannonball (averaging at most 50 lbs) is arbitrary and negligible. Due to the scales, they are nearly indistinguishable from one another.

      And in the interest of fairness, the series has done a great job of building up the Hero of Time as the most competent and complete warrior. From his exploits and abilities to his arsenal, the Hero of Time is evidently the most all-around powerful and “deadliest warrior”.

      However, the mere fact that the Hero of Legend only exists because the Hero of Time fails puts the Hero of Legend at a higher pedestal, regardless of other facts. And taken a step further, Legend succeeds twice where Time fails, on a decidedly grander scale.

      So, who would win in a fight between Twilight and Time? Looking at the evidence, I would say Time, although I know that without items the Twilight Hero would win in a match of raw strength, like arm wrestling. Time is just the most skilled warrior of the bunch.

  • Kourte

    My questions is why does the Hero of Time death matter when it comes to who is a better fighter? All the Links could theoretically have the same outcome. Nintendo just chose that one so they could shoehorn games into the timeline.

    I do agree that the Hero of Legend is the better fighter but I still don’t get the dying part.

  • Twilight is obviously the best fighter. If we go with the Links as they are in their respective games, then Twilight has by far the greatest sword skills, none of the others even come close. Time has “overhead swing” and “horizontal swing”. Twilight has those plus seven others. As far as offensive accessories go, he has all the standard ones, but often improved versions of them, like the whirlwind boomerang, plus things like the ball and chain. The hero of legend might be the best adventurer, but the hero of twilight is the best fighter and thus would win in a duel.

  • but doesnt Link in Majora’s mask also get the great fairy sword which does about twice the damage as the fierce deity sword?

  • According to http://zeldawiki.org/Weapon_Strength, the Deity’s Sword has the same damage as the Great Fairy’s sword. We can then compare these weapons to the Kokiri Sword, which appears in both Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask to compare the Great Fairy’s Sword to the Master Sword to show that Deity’s Sword and Fairy’s Sword are 2x the Master Sword. With knowing its relation to the Master Sword, you can make comparisons to virtually every Zelda game. If those swords are 2x the Master sword, and the Golden Sword is 4x the Master Sword, then the Golden Sword is 2x the Deity/Fairy sword.