The King of Darkness: Which Ganon is the Greatest?
Ganondorf is a cool villain. Shocking to hear from a Zelda fan, I know, but it’s true. He exudes power, ruthlessness, and arrogance, and he inspires fear and demands respect from all the other characters. Ganondorf, or Ganon for short, does whatever it takes to get what he wants. He is a perfect classical video game antagonist.
Topping all of what I just mentioned off is his portrayal and character changes seen throughout the series. Like with most characters the LoZ games, what we see isn’t always exactly the same character. They may be alternate timeline versions, descendants, or even the same character from a tone long gone, now different only in appearance and personality. Ganondorf has been all three. Every version of this villain has been good, but his portrayal in The Wind Waker is by the most compelling, as well as the most dangerous, and I’m going to do my best to explain why.
Most people should know by now, but in case you’re not in the loop, I love Wind Waker. Favorite game, hands down. So naturally, I’ve spent a lot of time studying its contents, the characters being chief among them. My appreciation for Ganon came from this game. The more I played WW, the more I realized how strongly developed of a character Ganon was. He stands apart from his other incarnations.
The age of this Ganon is the first obvious reason why he is so distinct. This is the same Ganon from Ocarina of Time, technically, except time, experience and defeat have all taught him harsh lessons. He knows he is not invincible, and this realization has helped him develop a considerable greater amount of cunning. More importantly, he has become much more patient. He takes his time with his plans, stays to the shadows, and respects his enemies as actual threats. He is hard to predict, and gives Link challenge after challenge, most of them being through manipulation and deceit. This is demonstrated most clearly when Link first confronts Ganon, only to learn all too late that Ganon had killed the sages who powered the Master Sword. Ganon learns and takes his time.
The second part of this lesson was the humility forced upon Ganon. For an arrogant man such as him, being bested by a kid is a hard pill to swallow. It forced him to accept his limits, limits he didn’t know were there. This makes it easier for Ganon to double down on his need to proceed with caution, which helps him keep the patience he need to carry out his schemes.
All of this was how we saw Ganon grow as a character, what made him such an incredible adversary. But what about before all of this? Before his fall from his self-appointed grace in OoT, what was Ganon’s motivation? Until WW it seemed like all Ganon wanted was merely to be a jerk, but during this game’s finale, we finally see more of the picture.
“I coveted that wind, I suppose.”
That is what Ganon said to Link. He told his nemesis about his home, the harsh life that he faced every day. How he wished he could reside in the peaceful confines of Hyrule, where the winds did not carry sorrow or death. This is what Ganondorf is passionate about. Passion, that is the key word. His prevailing obsession was birthed by his desire for Hyrule. Now, everyone knows that it is more than just greed that motivates Ganon. This revelation, combined with his hatred of the gods, and the still present hunger for power, make Ganon’s ambition become a drastically greater threat to Link, Zelda, and all of Hyrule. They can relate to him, but unfortunately it also means he can relate to them just the same, which only gives him greater opportunities to exploit and manipulate them.
Ganondorf has always been an incredible villain. Half man, half monster. The threat the monster side poses is obvious, but in his WW incarnation, the human half is shown to be just as dangerous.