Young Link is like North Korea, he throws around a lot of bombs which, in the end, don’t really end up doing anything.
Wait, is that why Armada calls him “Jong Link”?
Hi, my name is Rota, and I’m a 27 year-old Link main from the western United States. You’re probably thinking, “Jesus, I don’t know what’s more depressing, your indefensible choice of main, or your decrepit old age.” It’s a fair observation, but I think that my age is definitely the more unfortunate part of the equation.
Life as a Link main is actually working out great: he sucks, but so do I, so there’s genuine companionship there. When seeking out a long-term mate (even within a children’s party game, because as we all learned at Smash ‘n’ Splash this summer, IT’S A LIFESTYLE) you really want to saddle up with someone in your same league. If I entered tournaments as a spacie, that would be like giving the family Cadillac’s keys to the younger brother who’s cross-eyed and prone to seizures. Instead of putting little Joey at the wheel of a luxury sedan wrapped in chrome and ostrich leather, maybe we let him get around town in a 150,000-mile Toyota Tercel. Link is my Toyota Tercel. He and I share the blame for every 0-2 equally, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No, my advanced age definitely causes me more distress than does the fact that I main Link.
27 is a weird age, both in Smash and in life. As a 27 year-old Smasher you’re younger than most 64 players, older than most Melee players, and Smash 4 players are such an alien race to you that you couldn’t make conversation with one if your life depended on it (D1, blink twice if you’re being held against your will – we just want to know you’re safe). Outside of the game it’s an even more awkward state of limbo. You’re old enough to get stuck with real responsibilities, but still young enough to feel like you’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You want to live life to the fullest, but you’re sorta tired all the time. You want to subsist on fast food and beer like you did in college, but your digestive tract is constantly removing items from the list of things it will allow you to put inside your body without exacting swift and creative revenge. It can be rough transitioning from “young adult” to just “adult.”
But watching the shreds of youth scatter to the winds doesn’t have to be all bad. Once you embrace the unavoidable truth that you’re getting older, it’s truly freeing to admit that NPR puts out some very informative podcasts, and that corduroys can be a comfortable yet fashion-forward three-season staple. It sucks finding a new gray hair in the mirror every week, but as the creepy Trivago guy can tell you, a lot of girls are into the salt-and-pepper vibe. And perhaps my favorite part of leaving behind the dry, withered husk of young manhood is the unearned sense of superiority I have over everyone born after me: griping endlessly about “kids these days,” I’ve found, can be a rich and fulfilling use of one’s time. So gather round, children, and listen as an actual adult rants over the internet about why he prefers one Nintendo character over another, nearly-identical one.
Young Link and Link encapsulate perfectly the differences between youth and adulthood. When you’re young, you chase down fleeting, surface-level enjoyment: staying out late, listening to loud music, blowing your money on dumb shit. But as you grow older, you begin to crave stability: home ownership, a 401(k), joints that don’t ache. You trade in the superficial for the sensible. In just the same way, Young Link is a riotously good time at the outset: he’s fast, he can wall jump, and his boomerang-cancelled milk chug is perhaps the greatest taunt to appear in any fighting game, ever. Link, conversely, is slow, clumsy, and inexplicably blurry. But here’s the thing – his protruding un-sexiness notwithstanding, Link is fun in a more meaningful, more grown-up way: Link can actually get kills.
Young Link doesn’t have any KO moves, and no amount of minute-long, bomb-assisted tether recoveries through the depths of FD while Vectorman howls with delight is going to change that. And really, it’s not Young Link’s fault that he can’t take a stock to save his six year-old life. After all, Young Link is a prepubescent feral child who has no way of relating to the world around him but to hack furiously at tall grasses in hopes of turning up shiny stones. He’s never seen anything outside of the Kokiri Forest, and he has no life experiences to draw upon when making decisions or facing challenges. Do you know why Link wears tights under his tunic but Young Link doesn’t? It’s because Link’s legs are scarred and bruised from countless battles past, not hairless and glistening like a Chinese gymnast. Young Link can rack up boomerang damage faster than you can say “aboriginal cultural appropriation,” but what does it all lead to? Jigglypuff is the only high-tier character that Young Link can reliably send to the blast zone – any other matchup is a protracted episode of furious, impotent masturbation. Link, on the other hand, hobbles over to the ledge when a stock is there for the taking, bends down despite his knees begging him not to, d-tilts with a sword twice the length of Young Link’s child-safe butter knife, and seals the god-damned deal.
At this point you might be thinking “no kill moves? There’s a spiking hitbox on Young Link’s d-air!” Let me tell you about that box – that thing is so bizarrely, unusably small that no player ever lands it intentionally. The spiking d-air is like when George Michael jokingly asks his hot teacher to dance – there’s nothing lost in throwing it out there, and who knows, you might just get insanely lucky. A Young Link d-air spiking you and not immediately apologizing is like some alligator-marrying Floridian winning the lottery and then spending the rest of his life bragging about his genius investing acumen. In fact, if a Young Link ever pops off on you after taking a stock with d-air spike, you’ve got Uncle Rota’s permission to whip out a pair of kitchen scissors, cut right through the bastard’s controller cord, brandish your weapon menacingly between his eyes and say, “if ShizWiz is any indication, I can stab at least a couple of people before getting banned.” He’ll straighten up.
You might also be thinking, “Hey asshole, Young Link represents the early stages of Ocarina of Time, some of the most iconic levels in gaming history. Who are you to shit all over that crown jewel of interactive fiction’s first protagonist?”
First of all, don’t you EVER talk to me about OoT again. I was THERE in 1999, shooting Skulltulas off the wall while you were still scoping out the nearest female breast to latch your toothless gums onto. Granted, I did experiment with Majora’s Mask a little later on, but at my age that apocalyptic David Lynchian acid trip is a pretty spicy meatball to still be messing around with.
And second, it is precisely because I have such deep veneration for Ocarina that I so resent the way Young Link exists in Melee. Chief among my canon-specific gripes is the fact that Young Link, inarguably, should have a slingshot instead of a bow. After all, the slingshot is your primary means of advancing through the first few hours of Ocarina of Time (when playing the game at a plodding, manly pace, and not glitching through walls on some blindfolded triple-reverse-bottle-adventure-dank-percent AGDQ shit).
My art career never advanced much past drawing those pointy “S” things on notebook covers, but I can’t imagine that animating a slingshot for Young Link would have eaten up much development time. In fact, I’m disappointed in the Smash community for not cooking up a texture hack to this end. We’ve got eight-dozen mods that turn Captain Falcon into Space Ghost and Wispy Woods into Pickle Rick, but nobody ever bothered giving Young Link a slingshot. And if Space Ghost references are one Adult Swim generation too old for you, then I concede. You win, you little waifu-is-my-laifu bastards. Go watch, or read, or play Doki Doki Literature Club! in whatever format that project exists in, of which I refuse to find out. Sorry for the Link-main friendly fire, Dan Salvato. It’s just that in my old age I’ve started to resent the changing world around me, which is why I now smash with a hammer every UCF setup I come across.
I could go on. I could go on, and on, and on about this twig-limbed, wailing banshee and how his attacks have so little knockback that when he up-throws Ganon or Bowser they just fold back on top of him, leaving him smothered like an aging millennial trapped beneath mountains of student loan debt (you just wait, 17 year-old Reddit monsters). Yes, I could go on, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll put a bow on this seminal treatise by mentioning Young Link’s one saving grace. At the end of the day, setting aside all of the pathetic shortcomings in his moveset, and despite the best combo video he ever produced turning out to be a total fraud, and ignoring the fact that the only person he could get to main him is a skinny Randy Jackson who can’t stick to one tag, at the very least, at the absolute minimum, Young Link avoids the title of The Absolute Worst Ever by virtue of not being this guy:
Sub to the youtube channel to die instantly.
Explain Neon Genesis Evangelion to your grandma.