The ever-changing sizes of Ganon and Link

Watch Nintendo's most intense rivalry shift and change with the ages

Back in the day, making it all the way through Death Mountain was such a daunting task that even Ganon’s original sky-blue sprite was intimidating. It’s sort of hard to tell exactly what he is (pig-wizard, it turns out), but that didn’t stop our seven-year-old hearts from beating out of control at the very sight of Ganon and his trendy skull belt buckle.

The manual’s official art made it look like Ganon was a towering warlock, bested only by shoving the Triforce directly into his body. Exciting!

Above: Themanual’s epic (though incorrect) art

Naturally, that’s not what the game looked like at all. Ganon is large, but nowhere near that size. And Link, well, he looks like Link. Everyone knows Link.

But everyone might not know that when Ganon dies, he erupts into a pile of gore. Maybe they’re bloody ashes, who knows. Either way it was such a violent end that Ganon actually stayed dead for the sequel.

Thin as it is, the plot does make it clear that Link successfully killed Ganon in the first game (though Ganon’s minions are attempting to resurrect him by some gobbledygook no one remembers). Link is now a slender teenager, and the game’s final battle is against Link’s own shadow.

Some still assert that Shadow Link is actually Ganon, but all the asserting in the world won’t make it true. Ganon’s only appearance in Zelda II is that Game Over image up there, with no contextual placement of Link to determine size. This is obviously very important, so we’d best move on.

The 16-bit Link/Ganon duo is more or less the same as the NES, so we get a stubby Link hobbling around another pig wizard. Both are a bit more detailed, with Ganon brandishing a trident (Of Doom, probably) and Link, uh, still being short. Based on this new (non) information, we can guess this is the accepted ratio for the early ‘90s.

Basically they’re still on target, with Ganon a bit larger and rounder than Link. We have more definition thanks to newer technology, but so far no drastic size variations.

It’s a secret to everybody – Ganon isn’t in the black and white Link’s Awakening, nor is he in the 1998 Game Boy Color remake. Instead, Link’s last challenge is a battle against a series of nightmares, one of which is a very clear reference to the familiar porcine spellcaster. The sizes appear on track, even if this isn’t technically Ganon in the first place.

Whoa! With six years to stew about his defeat in A Link to the Past, Ganon swells in size to this monstrous demon brandishing two oversized swords. Keep in mind that Link is now an adult and still barely comes up to Ganon’s knees.

Even reeling over in pain, Ganon’s new form is immensely larger than anything we’d seen yet. However, you only see this Ganon at the end of Ocarina, as his smaller, “human” form takes center stage.

Ocarina marks the first appearance of Ganondorf, who from here on out acts as Ganon’s “main form,” and only becomes the hideous “Ganon” after losing control of his evil powers. Despite becoming human, Ganondorf still stands tall over adult Link.

Fun fact! Nintendo censored Ganon’s bloody Ocarina death for the Virtual Console release, replacing red blood with green.


Above: We promise this is Link stabbing Ganon

Next page – Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Smash Bros!

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