More than a decade later, Nintendo is righting its Zelda and Peach crimes

Princess Zelda will be a playable protagonist in a major Legend of Zelda game The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom. Both in terms of the game design philosophy – Zelda doesn’t wield a sword but a wand that can replicate objects – and the choice to make the princess the main character, the game looks like it represents a bold next step for the Legend of Zelda franchise as a whole. Between that and the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Last year was an exciting time to be a Zelda fan.

However, Nintendo wasn’t always so bold in its decision to include women in games, nor tactful in the way it portrayed those women when they got their big chance in the spotlight. Just look at Nintendo’s other leading lady, Princess Peach. Her first major foray as the protagonist in a Mario game came with the 2005 Nintendo DS game Super princess peach. The game featured a ‘vibe’ system that allowed Peach to unleash her overwhelming emotions to perform special attacks. It stood out at the time because of the way it happened reinforced stereotypes that women are overly emotionaldespite her being the protagonist.

However, 2024 has clearly brought about some change in the way Nintendo sees its princesses. Princess Peach: Showtime! was undoubtedly a step forward for Peach and the way games treat her. Instead of her power being fueled by her uncontrollable emotions, Princess Peach can take on numerous forms using theater props and costumes; she can be as strong as a swordsman or as graceful as a figure skater, and again, she’s the star of a game of her own. And despite not being playable, Princess Zelda played a very active role in the story of Tears of the Kingdom by working to set Link up for victory (although this interpretation is complicated). Those games now come with the fact that we’ve taken one of the most important steps of all: playable Zelda.

This isn’t the first time Princess Zelda has been playable. Players can choose to fight as her in spin-off games such as Hyrule Warriors, and she is playable as a ghost in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass; she is also playable Zelda: Gamelon’s Wand and 1996 Zelda’s Adventure. But her appearance in this capacity – starring in her own play – is long overdue.

The Legend of Zelda remains one of the most important video game series in Nintendo history and continues to move away from Zelda. Don’t get me wrong, I still love playing as my twinkified Link and dressing him up in cute outfits, but it feels good to try something new. I want to experience The Legend of Zelda as Zelda herself, and now I and a lot of other fans will finally get a real chance to do that when the game releases for Nintendo Switch on September 26.