Mudoran Lore – A History of Hyrule

In trying my darndest to contain my hype, I am turning to writing more about Zelda. The developers of Breath of the Wild have pointed to Hyrule being so fleshed out as to refer to it as a character in of itself. Heck, the name, Breath of the Wild personifies the land, giving it life and personality. This isn’t a look back at the lore of Hyrule, but looking back at the evolution of the land of Hyrule as it has been represented for the past 30 years is some of the games.

The Legend of Zelda (NES) (1986)

There’s just something about the original incarnation of Hyrule that seems to be recaptured in Breath of the Wild. If I were to try to put my finger on what that is, it’s the wildness of it. In the orignal NES game, Hyrule wasn’t a civilized, peaceful kingdom. It’s a wild, dangerous land, filled with monsters. There are no towns-its people live in caves, hiding from the dangers that wait around every corner. Strangely enough, this was also one of the most enjoyable to explore, because of that reason. You’re pretty weak when you first start the game, and you can barely move without something wanting to kill you. But as you gain more items and start getting a lay of the land, you begin to become comfortable with explore new areas, until you can conquer all of Hyrule.

Geographically speaking, there are already some important geographical features found in this first version of Hyrule. Death Mountain is found to the far north, which remains its signature location to this day. A large, unnanmed lake dominates the center of the land, and Hyrule is pretty famous for a specific lake- Lake Hylia, which this no doubt would become. The Lost Woods are found to the west of the lake, and to the far west of that is a massive graveyard. This wasteland may have been an inspiration for the deserts that usually lie in the far west of Hyrule. In the northeast is a location that has not been featured in many games: the Lost Hills. They would later reappear in Four Swords Adventures as “Hebra’s Hill.” Finally, there is a feature that is not found on most incarnations of Hyrule: the ocean. Hyrule has an eastern coast, which is seen in only one other Zelda game outside of the two NES games… Breath of the Wild!

Notable locations:

  • Lake Hylia
  • Death Mountain
  • Lost Hills
  • Lost Woods
  • Graveyard

Zelda II: Adventure of Link (NES) (1987)

In Zelda II, the size and scope of Hyrule was greatly expanded. The area explored in the original Zelda was now but a speck in the southwestern corner of the game world, and now we got to explore new, foreign lands. This was largely thanks to the new use of a World Map, a mechanic that was pretty standard in RPGs back in the day. This version of Hyrule was slightly friendlier. There were peaceful towns you could visit, in addition to the mysterious temples. That said, Hyrule was still dangerous, and straying from the main roads could easily mean being ambushed by monsters.

The only familiar location to return in Zelda II was Death Mountain, which is now found in the far southwest of the map. The game introduced many named locations, such as the northern Tantari and Parapa Deserts, and the western Midoro and Moruge Swamps.To the east you can visit a massive island-continent known as Eastern Hyrule, as well as the smaller Maze Island father east of that. The many towns in the game share their names with important characters from Ocarina of Time, with the exception of New and Old Kasuto Town, which lie in East Hyrule. Most of these locations would never be revisited in later Zelda games. Will Breath of the Wild let us explore some of these forgotten locations?

Notable Locations:

  • Parapa Desert
  • Tantari Desert
  • Midoro Swamp
  • Morugue Swamp
  • Death Mountain
  • Eastern Hyrule
  • Maze Island

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) (1991)

A few years later, A Link to the Past would bring back the smaller and more personal map style of the original Zelda. This incarnation of Hyrule is also one of the most well known, as it was finally starting to take the shape that would be shared with later games. This time around, Hyrule seems to have been a much safer land until the rise of the evil wizard Agahnim, whose mind-controlled knights now roam the land. Even with this, though, we have actual evidence of civilization in this Hyrule. This is the Zelda game that introduced the now famous Kakariko Village, a quaint town that lies west of the large, fortified Hyrule Castle, the home of the royal family.

Like in the original, Death Mountain looms ominously in the northern portion of Hyrule. In it is a vast series of caverns, as well as the Tower of Hera. To the west is the Lost Woods, which is north of Kakariko Village in this game. A Link to the Past is the first game that features a western desert with the Desert of Mystery. East of that are the Swamp Ruins, a wetland dotted with ancient structures, and the first named appearance of Lake Hylia. In the far east is an unnamed area, but it is a notable and distinct region due to its rocky cliffs and canyons. Last, but not least, is the introduction of Zora’s Waterfall in the northeast, the source of the river that feeds into Lake Hylia, and the home of the Zoras.

Notable Locations:

  • Hyrule Castle
  • Kakariko Village
  • Death Mountain
  • Zora’s River
  • Lake Hylia
  • Lost Woods
  • Desert of Mystery
  • Swamp Ruins

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) (1998)

Ocarina of Time was the game that first truly brought the land of Hyrule to life. From the seemingly endless roling plains of Hyrule Field, to the pretty waterfalls of Zora’s River, this Hyrule felt truly like a lived in game world. The most striking feature is Hyrule Field itself, a vast field that encompasses the majority of the domain of the royal family of Hyrule, as well as Hyrule Castle and Castle Town, which lie just north. Other locations branch from Hyrule field organically, such as the returning Lake Hylia to the southwest. In the middle of Hyrule field is a notable location: Lon Lon Ranch, home of the famous Lon Lon Milk.

Some new locations here include Gerudo Valley and the Haunted Wasteland, which lie in the far west of Hyrule-however, they are clearly analogous to the Desert of Mystery from A Link to the Past. To the east is Kokiri Village and the Lost Woods, which are the home to the Kokiri and their leader, the Great Deku Tree. To the north is Zora’s River and Zora’s Domain, the homeland of the Zoras, and further north is Kakariko Village, which lies in the foothills of Death Mountain.

Notable Locations:

  • Hyrule Castle/Castle Town
  • Kakariko Village
  • Hyrule Field
  • Lon Lon Ranch
  • Death Mountain
  • Zora’s River/Zora’s Domain
  • Kokiri Forest
  • Lost Woods
  • Lake Hylia
  • Gerudo Valley
  • Haunted Wasteland

The Minish Cap (GBA) (2004)

After Ocarina of Time, Hyrule went on vacation for a bit, with Majora’s Mask taking place in Termina and The Wind Waker taking place in a barely recognizable, post-Waterworld apocalypse version of Hyrule, the Great Sea. The Minish Cap saw the return of our favorite land, but in a very different form. Nintendo would later put The Minish Cap as one of the earlier games in the timeline, possibly explaining why this is such a different incarnation of Hyrule. Let’s start off with the returning areas-Hyrule Castle and Castle Town return, taking up the bulk of the center of the map. Immediately surrounding Hyrule Castle is Hyrule Field to the south, the Trilby Highlands to the west, and Lon Lon Ranch to the east.

To the far east are the Minish Woods, home of the small creatures that give it its name. To the north of that is Lake Hylia, and the Veil Falls that feed it. The Cloud Tops are an area accessible from there, a land high above the clouds. As crazy as that may sound, this is something that would be revisited a couple of times in later Zeldas. To the west is a graveyard known as the Royal Valley, and further west of that is a new location, Mt. Crenel. South of the mountain are the swampy Castor Wilds, which hide the elusive Wind Ruins in the southwest. This version of Hyrule introduced a ton of new places to visit-will Breath of the Wild revisit any of them?

Notable Locations:

  • Hyrule Castle/Castle Town
  • Hyrule Field
  • Lon Lon Ranch
  • Lake Hylia
  • Minish Woods
  • Mt. Crenel
  • Veil Falls
  • Trilby Highlands
  • Castor Wilds
  • Royal Valley
  • Cloud Tops

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN/Wii) (2006)

Twilight Princess took us back directly to the Hyrule of Ocarina of Time, some time in the future after the events of that game. However, this is also one of the most expansive versions of Hyrule up to that point, greatly increasing the actual size of the world. Instead of one large open area, there were many interconnected open areas that linked together. The result is one of the most breathtakingly open Zelda worlds up to this point. Of course, you will see many of the same returning locations here, but there are some notable changes.

The location of the Temple of Time has seemingly changed from right outside Hyrule Castle, to hidden within the Lost Woods. This change isn’t really explained. It may be a retcon, or perhaps it is simply a different temple with the same name, we don’t really know. This was the first game that was big enough to warrant the introduction of Hyrule’s political sub-divisions, its provinces. Faron is a region to the south, which is mostly a wooded wilderness. Lanayru is a cosmopolitan northern province, which is home to the capital, Castle Town, as well as Lake Hylia. Eldin would be a more rural area, home to Kakariko Village and Death Mountain. Last, but not least, is the return of the Desert province, home of the Gerudo Desert. There were two new locations to mention: the Ordon region is home to Ordon Village, a town that is implied to be at the outer reaches of Hyrule. Additionally, we are introduced to the snowy and desolate Snowpeak region.

Notable Locations:

  • Ordon
    • Ordon Village
  • Faron
    • Faron Woods
    • Lost Woods
    • Hyrule Field
  • Eldin
    • Kakariko Village
    • Death Mountain
  • Lanayru
    • Hyrule Castle/Castle Town
    • Lake Hylia
    • Zora’s River/Zora’s Domain
  • Desert
    • Gerudo Desert
    • Arbiter’s Grounds
  • Snowpeak
    • Snowpeak Mountain

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) (2011)

As the first game in the chronology of ZeldaSkyward Sword has an interesting place in the mythos. The world is not Hyrule, not quite yet. Instead, it is the same land of Hyrule, before the establishment of the kingdom that would one day give it its name. Because of that, Hyrule in this game is a wild land, pretty devoid of civilization, save for the primitive tribes that call it home. Even then, there are the beginnings of what would later become some of the series’ most recognizable landmarks.

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way. Faron Woods is the most recognizable, since there is a location of the same name in Twilight Princess. Eldin Volcano would obviously go on to become Death Mountain, and Lake Floria, which might become Lake Hylia later on. Last, but not least, Lanayru Desert seems to be the groundwork for what would become the Gerudo Desert. Comparibly, Skyward Sword seems to have a smaller amount of locations, but this is due to the more linar and structured design of the world, and to the additional overworld: The skies above Hyrule.

Notable Locations:

  • Sealed Grounds
  • Faron Woods
  • Lake Floria
  • Eldin Volcano
  • Lanayru Desert
  • Lanayru Sand Sea
  • The Sky

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

And here we are, Breath of the Wild. Today, we will see what the next incarnation of Hyrule will look like. After I play through this game thoroughly, I am going to be making a follow-up post on the references that I’m sure this game world will have to past Zelda games. I’ll see you all on the flip-side!

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