Games Geek / Technical

Racism in Phantom Hourglass?

About a month ago I purchased The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS. Since I don’t currently have a TV, my other consoles are useless to me, and the game sounded fun.

I came across the Isle of Frost, and it turned out that there were two races of people here. The Anoukis were apparently in control and had banished the Yooks to the more frigid areas. The more I talked to people on this island, the more I felt concerned for the Yooks. One of the Yooks had decided to take matters into his own hands and kidnap an Anouki, stole his identity, and lived in the comfort of the Anouki’s home. The Anoukis suspected that one of them was really a Yook in disguise, and you have been asked to figure it out.

After solving that puzzle, the Yook was revealed, and he left, but not before blasting me with some super breath that knocked me out of the building. When I went back to the leader of the Anouki, he thanked me for helping and then mentioned that I could go get my revenge on the Yook and also take out my aggression on any other Yooks I find. His words were dripping with hate, and the entire affair bothered me. So he asked me if I wanted to get revenge.

My options were either “Well…” or “Maybe…” Wow. Link would get squashed like a grape if he continues to be so ambivalent. Now, it turns out that it doesn’t matter what you say here, because Ciela, the fairy, decides for you:

“Hmmm….YEAH! Of course we want to get revenge!” What? No, we don’t! NO, WE DON’T! She does not speak for me!

But she does. You are sent to get revenge against the Yook who blasted you with his bad breath, and any other Yooks who get in your way. It’s all about finding the pure metal, after all, so it doesn’t matter who gets hurt.

I was sure that something would happen that would reveal the Yooks to be just as hateful of the Anouki. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this whole section would be a bit of commentary on Isreal-Palestine issue.

Oddly enough, the Yook aren’t just a different set of villagers in a different area. They’re enemies. You can’t talk to them. You just attack. And kill.

Once you do everything you set out to accomplish, it turns out that the Yooks were under some kind of mind-control. They actually prefer being where they are because their fur protects them from the cold. They apologize for trying to hurt you.

Apologize to ME? I killed a large number of you! Why aren’t you upset?

And why wasn’t I given a choice in the matter? Why did Ciela decide to take the Yook’s attack so personally and go along so easily with the Anouki leader’s call for revenge? I’m surprised I wasn’t asked to perform genocide!

It was a very strange situation, I thought. To me, the appeal of revenge and of hate was raised without a strong argument against it in the game. Why doesn’t Ciela become repentant? I don’t need a happy ending, and I felt the way the situation ended was a cop-out, but did anyone else feel a bit uneasy playing through this part of the game?

5 replies on “Racism in Phantom Hourglass?”

That was… peculiar. It’s not like you haven’t killed sentient beings in Zelda before, of course, but the set up for this was unsettling. I would have preferred it if they’d remained unreasonable monsters and not been so… kind afterwards.

Life is cheap on these waters, I guess.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have a single bit of a problem with this at all. When I pick up a Zelda game, I’m expecting a puzzle with some action peppered all over. I’m not playing this to be a political mediator. there’s a certain amount of disconnection here.

I don’t feel remorse or anything like that at all when I sit down to one of these games. I don’t think they could present me with a task I wouldn’t peform to get through to the next section of the game. I don’t see the characters in the game as anything more than puzzle peices. If they’re deemed to be my enemies, I crush them.

Do you really take these kinds of games that seriously? I find it fascinating that you took this view, but even IF it were discovered that it was a political statement I wouldn’t be more or less likely to play the game. I wouldn’t feel any differently about that section either.

If you’re looking for messages in these games, how about “Violence Is The Answer”? How else do you end each dungeon than to engage in deadly battle? Maybe “Violence Is An Everyday Chore”? Try to work your way from one part of the world to another, without breaking out a weapon and killing something. Do you take issue with this?

In the end, it’s just a game. If you’re worried about the political advertising there, in this case I think your case might be a bit shaky if you were to suggest that young minds are very influential. I don’t remember reading into Dragon Warrior or G. I. Joe when I was a kid, so I think this generation should be fine.

SteelGolem, I’m not concerned about there being political messages. I’m just pointing out that the motivations presented to me in a Zelda game just didn’t seem right. It wasn’t a typical “save the princess from a dragon” puzzle, in which the dragon is definitely a faceless enemy. These are people who hated each other, and it was presented in a way that gave me the expectation that it would be handled as a racially-charged situation that you had to diffuse. Instead, it’s a game that presents revenge as your only option, and there is no remorse about it at all. Why was this situation presented to the player?

I’m curious. I’m not trying to read into it more than it really is, but you don’t put situations in a game for the player on accident.

Have you played Super Paper Mario? Because you were saying how sad it was killing innocent Yooks, and in SPM, there’s a dungeon where these cavemen-esque people are put under a mind control, and even if you accidentally jump on them, these innocent people die, but of course points are taken off (or something like that), because that makes up for it. but then I think “ho hum, they’re just video game characters”, but I remain to feel some remorse, for whatever reason. I can only make sense of it in the sense of how you get attached to movie characters.

Steelgolem is right,when your sent on a mission in Zelda,no matter who you gotta crush you shouldnt feel a remorsie feeling abt it,you should just give it all you got and freakin destroy them mercilessly.

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