Before we start, I’m never one for reading books of this sort, I have no background in the field of psychology either, but how can we grow if we dont try something new? besides, its about The Legend of Zelda so I thought I’d give this a try,
“The Psychology of Zelda…” is a collection of mini essays from a variety of psychologists that takes a look at the themes, tropes and lore of the The Legend of Zelda series from Nintendo, collected and edited by Dr Anthony M. Bean (or The Video Game Doctor) with a Foreword from the webmasters of Zelda Universe. All contributors are fully qualified in their fields and passionate fans of the Zelda series. As such they present a positive, if maybe biased, view of how The Legend of Zelda fits into our own world and culture.
It’s this passion for the subject matter that makes The Psychology of Zelda a compelling read as each individual gives their insights into Link (and Zelda’s) challenges in the world of Hyrule and how individual psychology and tropes that we use to understand the world around us fit within the adventures that Nintendo have taken us on over the years. What makes this all work so well is that the authors manage to provided balance between their own understanding of psychology whilst never leaving the reader feeling out of their depth nor like the author is patronising the reader.
Due to the way The Psychology of Zelda has been written, with each other attempting to challenge a different subject, theres quite a bit of overlap of themes being discussed, particularly when each brings other studies by psychiastrists such as Carl Jung, however there are chapters that really stand out such as the study of Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief within Majora’s Mask and how the series both uses and plays with feminine tropes within its story telling.
However, there is an over reliance on studying both of the N64 titles: Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask throughout all of the studies. Pretty much every home console release does receive attention, although the handheld titles barely get a mention, but every study falls back on discussing Ocarina of Time and its sequel, which is understandable in a way as its arguably the first time that the series really strived to develop its characters, not to mention Ocarina of Time is regarded as the finest entry in the series with Majora’s Mask being the only “true” sequel (Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were Pokemon like entries from my understanding, whilst Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are all related but not direct sequels to each other). There’s also what feels like a bias towards the series, and whilst this is a study of The Legend of Zelda, the authors works give the impression that all of the games are faultless, with even the tropes chapter explaining away the Zelda characters origins as being of their time or even as progressive for their time.
These are only minor gripes however, and that last point really is to be expected from a book focusing on one series, its hard to escape the feeling that there could have been some interesting cross referencing to Zelda’s contemporaries but as it stands The Psychology of Zelda: Linking Our World to the Legend of Zelda Series provides an interesting study into one of gamings favourite and most historic series that would be an interesting starting point for discussion on how far the medium has come as a story telling device.
The MOBI used for this review was provided via Netgalley.