Zelda is at least tied for being the most well-known fantasy series in videogame history; if not then it’s the oldest most renowned series. But some can’t help but shake the feeling, for better or worse, that it’s just so dated. Now at this point thousands of fans could go on millions of different rants about the gameplay, layout, graphics, et cetera, and they’d all be right. But one of the biggest things that has developed in other games over the past fifteen years, and has been fairly commonplace for any story driven game for the past ten years, has been voice acting. So the question is: with Zelda being played mainly for its story, why no voice acting?
Nintendo has offered a few reasons in the past. The recurring theme with their explanations seems to be that the fan base has established their own views of Link, and that adding a voice to him would be going against the fans. That may be partly true, although I would argue that actions speak louder than words, and as such Nintendo has already established who Link is, his personality, and what he does in certain situations. This Link that Nintendo has set before varies little between games, with the major changes in his personality coming about because of changes in technology; for instance, Ocarina of Time Link’s personality is more fleshed out due to cut scenes, which were new to the series with the release that installment.
You could argue that Nintendo has been cautious about giving Link a voice, and therefore a more defined personality, since the CD-i games. Clearly in those, Link had a terrible actor, as well as a personality not fitting with what most consider Link to posses. However, how many fans of the Zelda series have played those, let alone consider them as any type of canon? If this were the case, I pray Nintendo learns to let the past be the past, and to forget about those games as most of us have.
Now the argument of Link’s personality aside, what about the rest of the world’s inhabitants? Zelda definitely has a Nintendo defined personality as compared to Link, yet she has yet to let out more than a shriek. There are many games out there that have the protagonist be a silent character and have the rest of the world talking. Dragon Age: Origins would be the perfect example of this, and that hero (or anti-hero, based on how you play) was less defined by BioWare than Link has been by Nintendo.
All of Nintendo’s reasons aside, voice acting would really add to the story telling aspect of the story, as well as draw in new fans. There is a level of emotion that can only be expressed in a person’s tone and infliction. There is a standard to which Nintendo is not rising, which causes people to pass on their games. In the end, I believe voice acting would help more than harm.