A book exploring the collision of Christianity and Nintendo's Legend of Zelda video game franchise.
Power on. Title screen. Name entry. Start.
Jesus is on the scene from the very first seconds in The Legend of Zelda. The action opens with our hero, Link, standing alone in an empty canyon. It's the outset of his adventure – the beginning of his quest.
And he's almost entirely unequipped. Besides the cap on his head and the shirt on his back, this young would-be rescuer holds only one tool you'd traditionally associate with a hero.
And on that shield, an emblem. A single decoration.
The Legend of Zelda begins with this simple image – and it's a sign of things to come. A connection. A link between worlds that are inseparably intertwined.
But the collision of Christianity and Nintendo's fantasy world of Hyrule hasn't always been as easy to see as on that first game's first screen – so this book will exist to uncover those connections. To place them side-by-side.
To pit Zelda vs. Jesus.
Hey there, Nintendo fans of the Internet. It's me, Lucas M. Thomas. I'm hoping mine's a name that rings a bell for you, as I've been working for the past six years to bring you the best possible reviews, previews and features covering our favorite video game company over at IGN. I've done everything from Virtual Console coverage to eShop updates, from reviewing cult classics to designing in-depth infographics. Late last year I even wrote and illustrated an entire digital children's book starring Kirby, for goodness sakes. So safe to say I've been the IGN Nintendo Jack-of-all-Trades since 2006.
And now I'm going to bring you a book. This book – Zelda vs. Jesus – that I've had in the works for several years and that now needs your help in getting the word out! (Plus, pledging your support through Kickstarter here lets you go ahead and pre-order copies for yourself!)
This topic fascinates me. Ever since I first picked up an NES controller in the '80s and first sent Link on his quest to save the first Zelda, I've wondered just why there appeared to be hints of Christianity scattered all throughout the land of Hyrule. From the Cross on Link's shield to the fact that he picks up a Bible as a "book of magic." From the other Cross he finds in Zelda II that lets him see hidden ghosts flying around to the fact that he, years later, is swallowed by a whale in Ocarina of Time (which you absolutely can't witness without thinking back to a Sunday School lesson about Jonah in the Old Testament.)
So what's going on here? Just how many links are there between Link's adventures and the imagery and ideas of real-world religion? Are these parallels between Christianity and the Zelda games intentional or not, and what implications would the answer to that question have? I want to explore this territory – to dig deeper into one of gaming's most venerable franchises – and see what we can find.
And why now? It's the perfect time to do so – here in the wake of the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a game that pushed prayer, goddesses and spirituality to the forefront of the series' narrative more than ever before. And I'm timing the book to release just in time for Zelda's 25th American anniversary this August – while this Kickstarter campaign is launching just in time for Easter, the biggest day for Jesus all year.
So please consider backing Zelda vs. Jesus and pre-ordering your copy right now through a pledge on this Kickstarter page. If you're a video game fan, you're investing in a deeper, more thoughtful, more thorough piece of writing than is ever regularly available to you – there are tons of great news pieces, editorials and reviews written every day in the games journalism world, but nearly no one is writing full-on books for your consumption. Let me be the one.
And if you're coming into this from the Jesus side of things, as a Christian who perhaps knows next to nothing about video games, well – consider the bridge-the-gap potential of a project like this. Investing in Zelda vs. Jesus is backing something that could impact your church's youth group, for just one example – connecting with their interests in a relevant, modern way that just might encourage them to look deeper into the entertainment products they consume every day.
Thanks so much for your time and consideration, everyone. Now let's do this. Let's pit Zelda vs. Jesus.
Absolutely it is! And also, absolutely not. Let me give three reasons for why the title is what it is.
First, "Zelda vs. Jesus" is simply short and snappy to say. It's a whole lot easier to be conversational about a book with a quick title – easier to tweet about, too – and, besides, something like "The Legend of Zelda as Compared with the Theology of the Christian Religion" sounds incredibly bland.
Second, the "versus" part isn't meant to portray this as a battle of one against the other. This isn't a fight. I don't write 12 chapters and then, at the end, declare that "Jesus wins." This is a usage of "versus" for its meaning of comparison and contrast. Setting two things next to each other and discussing their similarities and differences to find out what we can further learn about both.
And, thirdly, parts of the book actually will explore some antagonism and anti-Jesus sentiment. It's in those places where the more common oppositional meaning of the term actually is kind of appropriate, since Nintendo doesn't want to acknowledge these connections between its games and Christianity any more. The book dives into the prominence of Christian references and ideas in the origins of the series, then how later sequels shifted away from being so overt in pointing toward the Christian God and decided to layer a more generic spirituality over the fantasy land of Hyrule. That's "vs. Jesus." That's pushing him away.
So the title works, in my mind, on three levels. Hopefully now, after reading this, it makes more sense to you too.
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Become a Backer of Awesomeness! (Awesomeness is the fourth Triforce, you know.) Receive four personalized autographed physical copies of the book, four bookmarks, and four digital downloads. Then further receive your name included in the book as a confirmed Backer of Awesomeness. And then – yet further – receive a Zelda vs. Jesus T-shirt created exclusively for backers of this Kickstarter campaign, along with a vote for the final design and color scheme of said T-shirt.Estimated delivery:
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Become a Backer of Legend! Receive ten copies of the book – personalized, autographed, all that good stuff. (Enough to hand out gifted copies to a whole group of friends.) Receive ten downloads and ten bookmarks. Get your name in the book and four Zelda vs. Jesus T-shirts. Then you'll get a personal phone conversation with me to talk about Zelda, or Jesus, or anything else you'd like to discuss. And, then, it's time to get your game on – because I'll exchange Friend Codes with you and take you on in the multiplayer mode of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection game of your choice. You can snipe me from across the arena in Kid Icarus: Uprising, blast me with a Blue Shell in Mario Kart 7, smack me senseless in Super Smash Bros. Brawl or any other game you'd like – then I'll publicly admit my almost-inevitable defeat via Facebook, Twitter and any other online outlet you'd like so that your bragging rights are assured. (Really, donating at or above this level would be absolutely mind-blowing to me, so I'd count you as a personal friend already and be honored to game with you.)Estimated delivery:
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