Monday, April 30, 2012


G-Rated Gender-Bending With Sexy Sheik

Well excuuu-uuse me, princess, but you aren’t my choice for supreme Ocarina of Time crush. Nor is Link, Ganondorf with his power-hungry ginger villain steez, Ruto with her — uh — somewhat overbearing enthusiasm, or Impa with her (hopefully unused) bike shorts. Not those nutty nekkid Great Fairies, not Malon and her singing voice, not even Darunia and his sexy dance. Not even Nabooru, who I sort of wanted to be. Nope, Z. outdid herself and everyone else with her impenetrably incognito, absolutely in no way whatsoever recognizable disguise as her mysterious male alter ego, Sheik. 

I often credit Ocarina of Time as the game that got me into video games. Thinking back, that’s not really true. I played the SNES regularly and sometimes obsessively (Donkey Kong Country, aaah!) throughout my elementary school years, and progressed to Super Mario and GoldenEye (badly, and therefore briefly) on the N64. I enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie so much that I faked strep throat to stay home from school, and spent so much time playing Diddy Kong Racing that I can still pick up that unwieldy controller and dominate all comers purely from muscle memory. (In hindsight, I would have been better served to devote all that practice to Mario Kart, since I still play it semi-regularly with friends today. But it didn’t have planes!) As Final Fantasy VII did for many impressionable young PlayStation users, however, Ocarina was the first game to make me realize that a video game could be more than just a collection of increasingly difficult levels requiring timed button pushes. It had a PLOT! It had allies and enemies, and a big field and a horse, and masks that affected other characters’ perceptions, and TIME TRAVEL! It had a sweeping score and simple, catchy, button-playable tunes that were integral to the action. Did anyone else try about 30 different variations for the Scarecrow’s Song before settling on the version that was just right to impress your friends with your five-note composition skills? Thought so. Ocarina had the most fun fishing game I have ever experienced before or since. Long story short, it's one of the greatest games ever to have existed, and if you haven’t played it, you should go pick it up for the 3DS right now. Leave work! Go forth! And in addition to all of that, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time gave me my very first video game crush.

I don’t know why Sheik hit me so hard. He (as in the game, I’m going to use male pronouns to refer to Sheik from here on out) didn’t have much in common with his predecessors Raphael the Ninja Turtle, Adam West as Batman, and several soccer playing cuties who played freeze tag with me on the playground during recess. Maybe because his Sheikah get-up was so much better looking than Impa’s? (Not to harp on those bike shorts, but they really did not do it for 12-year-old me.) Maybe because he was so preferable to Kaepora Gaebora and that terrible refrain of, “Do you want to hear what I said again?” Maybe because he was broody and mysterious and turned up in important places and seemed to be way more clued in about everything than Link? He certainly did play some soulful songs on that harp or lyre, whatever that stringed thingy was. Mysterious! I told you! I must have liked being bossed around; I just Googled “Sheik quotes” and found a hella lotta instructions for things I needed to do and places I needed to go in order to further the quest. In any case, I remember that this picture made a positive impression on me:

If I’d had a centerfold pullout of that pic back-to-back with Link and his ocarina, I probably would have put it in my locker.

As I mentioned, Sheik was tooooootally manly, bore not the slightest passing resemblance to any other character in the game, was in no way suspicious whatsoever, and seemed to be exactly how he presented himself (if you were 12 years old and abnormally naïve and oblivious, anyway). Therefore, I was shocked, SHOCKED — almost as shocked as Link — to reach the big reveal in the Temple of Time where I learned that Sheik was really Princess Zelda all along.

Mind = blown. How did you change your eye color, Zelda/Sheik? And why did you not change your eye makeup, too? My mind was more blown to see what a weenie Zelda became after revealing herself. Wearing a dress must really hamper her coordination; where Sheik was tearing all around the kingdom and rescuing Zora princesses before the reveal, Zelda gets imprisoned in a crystal and, after being released, shuffles around pretty ineffectively after changing duds. Girl, throw on that spandex-and-bandages ensemble and start pitching some Deku Nuts! The fate of your kingdom is at stake here! What happened to those ninja skills?!

At game’s end I missed Sheik, but a tiny seed of appreciation for androgyny and drag had taken root in my heart. My crush on Sheik and his reveal as a woman in disguise caused me to begin examining my budding notions about gender and attraction, and while I can’t believe I was too thick to foresee the blindingly obvious plot twist, I look back on my lust for Sheik fondly. Looking at Sheik’s upper arms again (Zelda, that must’ve been magic. Michelle Obama ain’t got nothin’ on ‘em), I feel like a bit of that early crush might always remain with me.

Previously: Garrus.

Jennifer Culp will be dancing to Saria’s Song for the rest of the week.

59 Comments / Post A Comment






I learned something today.@k


spoiler alert guys

also yes, ocarina of time is the best forever.


@redheaded&crazie But oh my Godddd when Kaepora Gaebora would show up you just knew you were in for like twenty minutes of unnecessary exposition. All it took was the sound of his wings for my brother and I to slump back in our chairs and exhale like the entire universe was escaping out of our lungs. "UUUUGH THIS GUY." He was worse than Navi. Worse!!!


"The Zoras have close ties with Hyrule. Perhaps you should remind them of your connection to the Royal Family. Remember, you can equip your Ocarina with -" OH WELL MAYBE I SHOULD PLAY ZELDA'S SONG THEN


@melis Oh my god can I please just ride my pony through the fields of Hyrule in PEACE


@heb man, I seriously used to just ride around Hyrule field for fun. I'd turn the game on for the express purpose of moseying around on Epona. Good times.


@Probs Did anyone else use Gameshark to just fly up to the top of the mountain??


@melis my friend did! I had this moral opposition to cheat codes and walkthroughs and so forth, which in retrospect was pretty bizarre. Stockholm Syndrome for the developers, or something.

I just stuck to using the backflip to get a heart piece earlier than you were supposed to. That was the best feeling in the world, ha.

I smell burnt toast

@melis Except that, somehow, for Child Me playing the game, that kind of heavy-handed hinting was totally necessary? And it made me feel like a Genius when I figured out which song to play in which area?


@I smell burnt toast But Navi already hints when you get to the waterfall and see the mark of the Triforce! I mean I definitely needed one hint, but two just seemed silly. Plus you could never just hit B and rush through his warnings unless you'd already played through that part, so you had to sit through eeeeeverything with that interminable slow theme song of his.

I smell burnt toast

@melis Oh, is that so? My memory is a little fuzzy. I totally agree that The Damn Owl is the worst, and I guess that the combination of Navi's hints and the Owl's incredibly verbose amounts of exposition is really unnecessary. They kind of do the same thing, game-play wise? THE THEME SONG, I forgot about. Actually, all of the songs in that game are great.




I may or may not have purposefully thrown Ruto down one of Jabu-Jabu's oozing ulcers when I got sick of her nonsense.


@melis the worst part was that I think the automatic option was like "do you want to hear me repeat this?" "yes" so if you were just mindlessly button mashing like i always do, hoping this time it will make things go faster, and then see the word "yes" like YES GOD MAKE THIS STOP annnnnnnd great now we're getting the whole shebang again.


@transnational and how did that work out for you?

(you had to go down and get her didn't you)


@redheaded&crazie yeah, but I might as well have gone that anyway since I'm almost always totally lost in that level. I can knock out the Water Temple faster than Goron Link blastbeating on the Drums of Sleep, but inside Jabu I panic and end up getting whipped around by the pulsating electric phalluses.


Is this the place where we can discuss how Ocarina of Time changed our life? Collective pronouns because I know I'm not alone.


@terrific The first time I played it through my brother and I actually stopped and clasped hands when Link woke up in the Temple of Time. And when Link found out he wasn't a Kokiri? I could not have been more shocked than if I'd just found out I was adopted.

I smell burnt toast

@melis I can remember being SO EXCITED sneaking through the castle, knowing I'd get to meet a princess soon.


@terrific I met my first love through Ocarina of Time. Not even lying.

sceps yarx

@melis Ah, you are so young! My brother and I clasped hands and wept during Final Fantasy II (IV in Japan, of course).

crazy and i know it

@terrific This was the first game I truly loved. I remember having the thought that it was as intense and as awesome as a book! I also distinctly remember feeling sorry for Saria, who was a badass and therefore a better choice for Link than Princess Zelda was.


@crazy and i know it - Really, any of the other ladies were more badass/better choices in that way. Of course, I've always figured that's why they had to make three of the five(!) who were hitting on Link into sages, so he was basically left with Zelda (and Malon, who would of course still have been the better choice).


@terrific My brother and I invited my best friend and her brother AND their sister, as well as our cousin and next-door neighbour to come over and watch us play it, and a couple of their parents let them stay over because we were all engrossed in finding out the best tactic to kill Ganon, and we all sat there in awe and amazement until 3 am when the end credits played.


@terrific I still remember the exact moment when I finished OoT and the credits started rolling alongside the clips. Knowing there wasn't anymore game to play, I honestly felt a sense of loss, like my best friend had moved away. I even remember times when I REALLY had to pee, but holding off so I wouldn't break the connection. No other game (including other Zeldas) have even come close!


Hahahaha, I just cracked up in my cubicle from "excuuuuuuse me, princess"


SPOILER ALERT! har har, just kidding. But yesss, Sheik is my boy! er... whatever. One of the coolest ideas from the Zelda franchise. Another stellar girl talk, Culp!

Jillsy Sloper

Yes, thank you, Jennifer Culp. I think several of us will be dancing to the endless loop of Saria's Song that will be stuck in our heads for the rest of the week.


@Jillsy Sloper
Oh! Oh-oh! C'mon! Come on! Come on! Come on! HOT!!! What a hot beat! WHOOOOAH! YEEEEAH! YAHOOO!!


Zelda/Sheik is my absolute favorite to play in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, because magic AND ninja kicks.


@anachronistique I had a friend who loved to play as Zelda, and I got killed by that fucking aerial side kick so many times. Not Sheik's, Zelda's.

Summer Somewhere

I am still waiting for Sheik to get a starring role in a Zelda franchise game. Maybe rescue Link for once. Sheik is my favorite Nintendo character forever and always.


It is something that grows over time... a true friendship. A feeling in the heart that becomes even stronger over time.


Time passes, people move. Like a river's flow, it never ends. A childish mind will turn to noble ambition. Young love will become deep affection. The clear water's surface reflects growth.


@steve I have never cried at my desk because of a Hairpin article, but I am close to tears now.


Zelda is the only video game I play anymore. I wish I had Ocarina of Time still. It is the best. My brother and sisters and I did our best bonding over video games.


I actually have just been replaying OoT, for the first time since I was a kid, and I'm surprised by how many of the emotional moments hold up - like when you go back to Kokiri Forest after you've grown up and no one remembers you. I think I thought that was kind of funny when I was a kid, but now it is SO SAD. And then Mido apologizes for being a bully even though he doesn't know who you are??? /FEELINGS

crazy and i know it

@phenylalanine I think you have just inspired me to dig out the N64 (or maybe buy it for my Wii?) I have been afraid that some of the magic would be gone, so I've avoided it, but your comment gives me hope!


@phenylalanine oh man playing zelda as an adult is so emotional! it really is. actually any storyline where there's a lonely hero against all the dark forces of the world all by his lonesome (+sheik) oh gosh i need to take a moment here


@phenylalanine OoT is so good and emotional. I've played the game so many times and it still makes me feel the same every time! All the stuff with Saria and Link is so sweet and tragic! And yeah Mido's apology = lump in throat.


@nogreeneggs I was obsessed with the tragedy of Link and Saria's friendship as a kid, and it still makes me melancholy to this day when I think about it. What's more universal, yet incredibly sad, than the memory of how your best friends in childhood eventually fade from your life?

Roaring Girl

Ooooh. I didn't own an N64 growing up, and I've mentioned wanting one to the hubby, but he doesn't really understand why. He's totally fine with still having the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, PS1... but surely the N64 is going too far. Surely.



Real talk, though. It always tripped me out that the harp/lyre came from his/her bum. D:



@youresmalltime Even as a kid, I knew it was such a joke to say that she was somehow most deserving of "wisdom." You mean the girl who basically hands the keys to the sacred realm to the bad guy, runs away, comes back to watch Link risk his life repeatedly to try and save the realm, and then -surprise- is helpless in face of the ambush that comes the instant she reveals her identity?

The Mayor of Bethville

Actually, my Scarecrow Song was "left up left up left up left up." Because it was easiest to remember.

Awwww, Culp! My most favorite game ever! I didn't fall for the Shiek/Zelda thing, but that was probably because I was 24 when I finally discovered it. And, anyway, Link is my guy.

I was actually able to appreciate the fishing game more once I played Twilight Princess and FINALLY caught the Hylian Loach.


@The Mayor of Bethville hahhaha I think my scarecrow song was complicated and fancy when I was a kid, but I'm replaying the game and this time I made the song "A down A down A down A down." Gotta simplify that shit.


Aw, I'm sad I can't participate in this one, but PlaystationGirl4Lyfe. That's right, I said it.


I'm going to leave this here:


I feel like the people in this comment thread will truly appreciate it.


Ocarina of Time was life-changing and everything, but can I just add


What was it about that game? It was clearly not much more than an inferior MarioKart, and the planes were cooler in theory than in practice (so difficult to control, and do not even getting me STARTED on the mother f-ing hovercraft). And yet…and yet I played it constantly! To this day I have no explanation, but I'm glad to know I was not alone.


@rockproblems Hovercraft was my vehicle of choice! So amazing once you got the hang of the controls, you could drive over any terrain! And then when playing a water level against people that only drove cars...TOTAL DOMINATION!


@rockproblems Urg, no, Diddy Kong is totally superior to Mario Kart, and don't let the haters convince you otherwise. Mario Kart is just a bunch of cheap, rubber-banding items and luck, Diddy Kong is a game for Masters Of Skill(z). Plus: actual story, campaign mode, puzzle levels, boss battles? Maro Kart only wished it was as cool as DKR.

Planes weren't that hard to pick up on, hover crafts were definitely my weakness. But, yes, my step-brother used to totally take us to school when he could skip the pirate ship on... durr, that one level.


Totally had a crush on Sheik when I was a kid! Oh man, N64 was the best.


My ringtone is Bolero of Fire. My notification sound is the sound when Link solves a puzzle. That is all.

Michelle Ouellette@facebook

I used to think the hairpin could not get any better, and then there is an article posted on Zelda. Mind= blown.


I am late but this game. Is. INCREDIBLE. Does anyone else get chills listening to the Song of Time?!


G-Rated Gender-Bending With Sexy Sheik
ニキビ 治す

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