Despite the entire Zelda video game franchise being named after the Princess of Hyrule, the hero is always Link.
Your pointy-eared, tunic-wearing protagonist spends most of his time in the game getting the bad guys and saving the day while Zelda is mostly busy getting kidnapped, confined and otherwise in need of Link's rescue.
As Feminist's Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian points out, even when Princess Zelda gets the chance to help Link in his quest or even join his as a capable, butt-kicking sidekick, she resumes her role as damsel in distress as soon as she's back in her tiara.
It was Feminist Frequency's examination of the tired trope that helped inspire one gamer to turn the tables on gender in video games.
Blogger and hobbyist animator Kenna W. hacked the original "Legend of Zelda" and to make Princess Zelda the hero and Link the imprisoned damsel. You can watch a play-through of the modded game above.
For Kenna, hacking Zelda was like fulfilling a childhood wish.
"The game was fun [as a child], but I was bummed out that I never got to play as Zelda. But like I said, I'm an adult now. There's no one to stop me from eating candy before bed and there's nothing standing in the way of me creating the games I want to play," Kenna writes on her blog.
It took her a few days of coding and using a sprite editor to hack the game. For more details on how she did it and to download your own patch to play as Zelda, Kenna has it all on her blog.
Link does appear in the game, except this time, in the game's final scene (warning: 27-year-old game spoiler) he's the one who inexplicably is unable to leave a room. For Kenna's boyfriend, a professional video game programmer himself, that moment really showed our perceptions about gender in video games:
When I got to the end of the game, I took a screen capture and sent it to Simon. He was strangely quiet. "My first thought" he told me later, "was 'Link, why are you standing there? Just jump over the flames.' But I guess that's the point isn't it? The gender in games thing."
Hacking gender in classic video games has been a bit of a trend lately. Father Mile Hoye edited Zelda: Windwaker's dialogue for his daughter so that Link is referred to as a "her" throughout the game. Another tech-savvy dad hacked "Donkey Kong" so that his daughter could play as female character Pauline.
For female gamers who have for too long almost always played as a male hero saving the day and the girl, watching Zelda be proclaimed the Hero of Hyrule is a satisfying win.
"It feels really good to play as Zelda. I feel like I connect with her character better and it makes me feel like a big damn hero. It's so nice to be swinging around a sword as Zelda. I can't describe it. You really should try it for yourself," writes Kenna.
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