The Legend of Zelda is home to all sorts of monsters and evil-doers. Main villains like Ganondorf, the Skull Kid and Ghirahim are infamous among fans. While some bosses may reappear across games, none of them have become as well-known as the chief antagonists. That is, except one: Dark Link.
Dark Link, also known as Shadow Link, is an evil version of the classic hero. He can usually copy all of Link’s moves, which means players must think before attacking. It isn’t as simple as memorizing a pattern and using an item to exploit a weak spot. He always brings a challenge and this has made him a popular figure in the Zelda series.
Here is every appearance of Dark Link, explained.
Nintendo’s 1987 follow-up to The Legend of Zelda is often considered the black sheep of the franchise. It made many changes to what fans enjoyed about the first and — similar to many games at the time — it’s incredibly tough. Its difficulty culminates in a final boss fight and the first appearance of Dark Link.
Dark Link has as much health as the player and spends the fight hopping around and blocking all attacks. Patience is the name of the game here, as players must wait for the perfect moment to strike. Given that it’s so easy to take damage in Zelda II, it’s best to pack as many extra potions as possible.
Since 1998’s Ocarina of Time is one of the most popular Zelda games and Zelda II definitely isn’t, many players probably experienced Dark Link for the first time in the Water Temple. He acts as the dungeon’s mini-boss, but the fight is arguably more enjoyable than that of the final threat.
Everything from the arena to the fight itself is memorable. The wide, open room with a single tree in the center is just as mysterious as the foe, who springs into action as soon as Link finds he can’t leave. Dark Link behaves similarly here to his fight in Zelda II, only he’s more fully realized in a 3D space. He’ll clash his sword against every head-on attack. He’ll even seemingly taunt the player by hopping on their sword before flipping backward. Luckily, he doesn’t have the same vast arsenal at his disposal that Link does.
In 2002, Nintendo ported A Link to the Past to the Game Boy Advance. It also came with the first multiplayer Zelda adventure, Four Swords. Completing certain challenges in both games unlocked the optional dungeon, Palace of the Four Swords. To make the extra task even more challenging, Nintendo included not one, but four Dark Links as the final bosses.
Players fought them one by one, but each had a different power-up, such as the Dash Attack and Sword Beam, as well as every power-up of the Dark Links before them. Needless to say, the final Dark Link was exceptionally tricky.
2004’s Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube cast Dark Link in a more central role. Ganon created an endless supply of evil clones to wreak havoc on Hyrule. Players would find them throughout the world, using some of Link’s most famous weapons.
Nintendo has implemented Dark Link as a challenge in several other Zelda titles. In Oracle of Ages, the final boss Veran can summon Dark Links as part of his attack pattern. In Spirit Tracks, Dark Link is the final enemy in a mini-game. In Tri-Force Heroes, three of them appear in the Den of Trials and use upgraded versions of Link’s weapons. He’s even shown up to fight players in games not developed by Nintendo like Hyrule Warriors and Cadence of Hyrule.
Dark Link can also appear in A Link Between Worlds, where he represents another player when using the 3DS’s StreetPass function. In the Link’s Awakening remake, using the game’s Link Amiibo will add Dark Link to a player’s customizable dungeon.
However, Dark Link has become so valuable to Zelda lore he’s been used in other ways. In an insanely creepy Twilight Princess cutscene, Dark Link represents Interlopers that once tried to rule over the Sacred Realm. He’s an alternate color for Link in Super Smash Bros., though Breath of the Wild takes that even further. Dark Link’s armor set can only be purchased from the shady and somewhat hard-to-find Kilton after completing all four Divine Beasts and it certainly doesn’t come cheap. It only increases Link’s speed at night, but it’s still an Easter Egg worth tracking down.
The Hero of Hyrule has many enemies, though an evil version of himself is one of the most infamous. Here is every appearance of Dark Link, explained.