Does Link have nipples in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom? New key art stirs debate

Newly revealed key art of Link from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has fans debating whether he has nipples. There are pieces of art showing the new looks of both Link and Zelda, but a number of fans have pointed out that Link doesn’t appear to have nipples.

To determine whether that is really the case, let’s take a closer look at the key art, which is in the style of an oil painting. Looking at Link’s torso, you can see a shadow that stretches from his right arm to the middle of his chest. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be a nipple, but try taking good, hard look at it. You can probably see that toward the bottom of his pec there is a small patch that is a shade darker than the surrounding shadow. It’s a little mixed in with the patterns on his skin, but you could interpret this small patch of shadow as his nipple or areola.

In other words, there remains the possibility that he does have nipples. It could be a matter of Nintendo’s skillful ability to subtly depict nipples without explicitly drawing them. In any case, it appears that both possibilities remain, so it feels a little early to straight up declare that he is nipple-less.

That said, if you take a look back through the history of The Legend of Zelda series, you’ll realize that the chance of Link having nipples in Tears of the Kingdom is quite low. To delve deeper into the history of Link’s nipples, let’s now take a look at the investigatory video created by Thomas Game Docs, a YouTube channel focused on video game research.  

First, we’ll start with the previous game, Breath of the Wild. The opening scenes of the game show Link awaken with no clothing on his upper torso—a perfect chance to show off his nipples. However, no matter how many times you examine his chest, there’s nary a nipple to be seen. The game also allows you to explore the field with a bare chest, but progressing through the game is not going to make Link magically sprout nipples, of course. As soon as Link begins his journey in Breath of the Wild, we know that he has no nipples.

Now, let’s jump back a bit further. According to Thomas Game Docs, the first time that Link was depicted with nipples was in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. In this game, Link can gain a variety of effects by wearing different masks, and some of the masks allow him to transform into other races. When wearing the mask that turns Link into a Goron, you can see that this Goron Link does indeed have nipples. The Goron NPCs in the game do not actually have nipples themselves, so this would mean that Goron Link’s nipples are not a characteristic of the Goron race but of Link himself.

Image Credit: Thomas Game Docs/Nintendo

Interestingly, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link practically flaunts his nipples. During an event in the game where Link must compete in a sumo match against Gor Coron, an elder of Death Mountain, he first trains with Mayor Bo. During this training, Link is dressed in an outfit that reveals his chest, and we can see that he has clearly depicted nipples. His nipples are even more detailed in the game’s HD remaster, so much so that nobody could deny their existence.

Image Credit: Thomas Game Docs/Nintendo

However, outside of those two examples, sightings of Link’s nipples are few and far between. He is rarely seen without clothing to being with, but in Breath of the Wild, at least, it is clear that he has no nipples.

In the official art book for the game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Creating a Champion, there is concept art for Link that shows him without clothing, and there is nothing on his chest that resembles nipples. In other words, it’s likely that even from the beginning, the development staff never intended for Link to have nipples in Breath of the Wild.

As Tears of the Kingdom serves as a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, it’s likely that it will retain the same setting for characters and the world. That means it’s very likely that Link will continue to be without nipples in this new game.

After looking back at the history, it seems the debate about whether the shadowy portion of Link’s new key art represents a nipple is not a debate at all, and he probably doesn’t have any.

That said, Breath of the Wild was a large step forward for the series, and it really re-examined a lot of what had become the norm for The Legend of Zelda. In recent years, it has become the norm for Link to not have nipples, but there is always the possibility that that too will be reconsidered in the future. Regardless, all will become clear when the game finally launches on May 12.

Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-02-10 17:30 JST)