The Legend of Zelda: Monster Round-up
The 13-episode The Legend of Zelda cartoon series, made by DiC, is one of my favorite video-game cartoons. It aired in 1989 on Fridays as a part of Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Despite the criticism it has received, I found it an extremely entertaining series in all it’s 80s action-cartoony glory. And I also have to give credit to the writers for attempting to include so many recognisable items, conventions and indeed monsters from the game into the series. Who knows how many more we might have seen if the series had ever gotten a second season (well, I guess the Zelda appearances in the second season of Captain N were the closest substitute).
Here’s a comparisons list of all the monsters, how they appeared in the cartoon and in the game. I’m not including the single appearances of a Keese in the pilot, the Ropes in Underworld Connections or the Patras in Stinging the Stinger because – let’s face it – it’s just a bat, they’re just some snakes and they’re just a bunch of flying eyeballs…
Let’s start with the familiar ones. Moblins have appeared in practically every Zelda game ever, they’re about as basic as basic henchmen get. In fact they’re appearing less frequently in newer games which makes me a little sad because as easy and cheap as coming up with the Moblin might have been (just throw an M at the beginning of “goblin”) they are a trade-mark figure of the series, a sort of Zelda’s Koopa Troopa.
Appearance wise, the cartoon stayed very faithful to the Moblins in the game. They also appeared in the second season of Captain N with a slightly redone design.
Speaking of average stock, the Stalfos (I believe that’s also the plural) have apparently become more and more prominent with each new Zelda featuring more elaborate and occasionally creepier variants of them. This seems rather unfair because at the very beginning Stalfos were just plain Skeletons (and not always armed ones).
I kinda liked the cartoon giving the armor and a seemingly infinite supply of bombs. Whenever the Stalfos’ talked they seemed to have a weird, wimpy sounding voice which, I do have to confess, didn’t sound all that threatening. One of my favorite moments from the Stalfos are from The Missing Link episode, especially when Link scares the crap out of the Stalfos guarding his body in the Evil Jar.
With the Octorock I’m willing to allow the creators of the Zelda cartoon off on grounds of artistic license, because at the end of the day – for being a rock-shooting octopus – the Octorock is kinda pathetic, even the humongous ones in Wind Waker.
Despite the fact that the more human mouth they had in the cartoon made the Ocs look a little dorky at least they were always basking in the glory of backlit animation, truly the most spectacular form of animation. =D Either way, the series made good use of the Octorocks with plenty of appearances and probably the funniest one in their debut episode, The White Knight.
One monster whose definitely gotten better over the years are Gibdos… or just plain old mummies. And that’s exactly what they looked like in the series too, though I think it was interesting that the Gibdos were always depicted as female.
Really this early appearance from the episode Kiss N Tell is a perfect example why Gibdos used to suck. In an ultimate moment “Ah c’mon, idiot!” Link unwittingly accepts a kiss from hot girl he rescued from the Gleeok who then transforms into a Gibdo and Link into a humanoid Toad (frog).
Gibdos also reappeared in The Underworld Connections and Moblins are Revolting episodes.
Speak of the devil, Gleeok actually got two appearances in the series, though his first one in Kiss N Tell was actually the better one. In that episode the three heads all argue with one another which I found at least pretty entertaining.
In the later appearance in A Hitch in the Works Link zapped the Gleeok’s body and its heads then continued to chase after him. I don’t know if this also happened in the game because I never got far enough in the original Zelda to face off against Gleeok.
Gleeok had a really deep, threatening voice (though he only spoke in Kiss N Tell) but the dialogue between the three heads was always pretty silly. I always found the voice to be a bit of a shock since the Finnish dubbed version of Zelda had the Gleeok talk in a more high-pitched and funny voice.
Gohma had two appearances as well, one where he clearly had Link and Zelda at a disadvantage (in Stinging the Stinger). I hated it when Ganon accidentally killed the Gohma in Cold Spells, it was truly a sad moment for me. =(
His appearance was very consistent with the game version.
They first appeared, full-force, in The White Knight. Probably their best appearance was at the beginning of That Sinking Feeling where they were given a battle scene far more epic than the little buggers deserved.
I also think they would have looked more menacing if DiC had stuck to the cycloptic appearance of the originals. Now the Tectites have four cartoony eyes and dopey looking mouth most of the time.
Now I may be mistaken, but I do believe the Zora was the first Zelda baddy to graduate into a good guy in the later games, starting from Ocarina of Time where Zoras were given more streamlined designs and made to look more human.
However, originally Zora was a baddy and in some instruction manuals and such they actually mistranslated the name as Zola (this is also what he’s called in the cartoon). I have to applaud DiC for including Zola in his full-body glory whereas in the games we only ever saw his head. Zora appeared in the excellent White Knight and the series-finale/monsterpalooza Moblins are Revolting.
I have to admit, if it weren’t for the fact that Aquamentus was the first dungeon boss in the first Zelda game, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what this thing was. Here I’m giving DiC points for originality. The original Aquamentus looked like a really dopey cross between a dragon and unicorn but he actually looked pretty badass in the series (though also considerably smaller).
Aquamentus only made one appearance, in Underworld Connections.
Yes, there used to be Centaurs in Zelda games. The Lyonel is a pretty lame idea for an enemy. They appearance in , admittedly my favorite episode, Sing for the Unicorn and again in larger numbers in Moblins are Revolting.
A rarity among the game monsters, we actually got to see both colour variants of the Lyonel in the show. Though I have to confess, Lyonel is just a really bad name for a monster.
It’s kind of hard to believe Vires could be even considered threatening. In the cartoon they look like dopey little gargoyles and that’s pretty much what they also look like in the cartoon. At least we can’t fault DiC for getting too creative with the monster-designs.
Vires however served a major plot-point in Underworld Connections. This is also the only episode where the Vires spoke, with a rather stereotypical and annoying squeaky voice.
Alright, I’d be willing to bet that if you were to walk up to someone who considers themself a bona fide Zelda specialist and asked them what the heck Goraya is, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Basically, this is the fat moustached guy (from Zelda 1) or the sleek fox-looking guy (from Zelda 2) who threw boomerangs.
In the cartoon he actually looks more like an evil badger and as a Zelda baddie he tended to get rather ignored. The Gorayas only appeared in That Sinking Feeling (in singular) and Moblins are Revolting (in abundance). It’s really no wonder why the Gorayas have been phased out of the Zelda games’ villains gallore, anyone can throw a frickin’ boomerang…
Okay, I have to admit that I was a little puzzled as to who these red armoured stone guys were supposed to be when they burst from underneath the pavement in White Knight. When they appeared again (in giant form) in Sing for the Unicorn, however, it became evident that they were supposed to be Armoses, the statue dudes who only move when you touch them.
Having established how they look nothing like their game counterparts, I have to give DiC credit for actually making the Armoses so badass because frankly the Armoses have begun looking more and more stupid ever since their initial appearance in the games (turning into, essentially, giant hopping chess-pieces). Armoses were, however, very prone to fits of stupidity such as in White Knight where the last surviving Armos got into a fight with an Octorock over a Rupee and in Sing for the Unicorn where one Armos walked in on the heroes carrying a bomb (isn’t that what Stalfos are for) which, as we all know, is their biggest weakness.
I have really mixed feelings about this one. Okay, for one, the Dark Nut is absolutely my favorite Zelda baddy because he’s the only one who ever challenges Link with a sword in most games. My most favorite version of Darknut was actually introduced at the end of Twilight Princess. I do have to admit that DiC stuck rather close to the original design of the Dark Nut (minus the Boba Fett style helmet) but at the same time I can’t help but feel annoyed they couldn’t make him look more menacing like they did with the Armoses.
There’s really no getting around the fact that he’s yellow and has a really tiny sword (then again, so does Link but his sword can zap stuff). I really wish the Dark Nut could have been a bit more memorable but it was cool to see him in his very brief appearance in That Sinking Feeling.