Details pertaining to Nintendo’s official timeline for the Legend of Zelda franchise have apparently come out through yesterday’s leak of “Hyrule Historia”, a book describing and explaining the Zelda mythos, which was released in Japan today. Scans of the timeline-related pages are circulating the web, and can be found on sites including VG Tribune. They apparently confirm parts of the popular “split timeline” theory, while also inserting a previously unknown deviation.
According to the book, the series begins with Skyward Sword, as previously announced, and then continues with Minish Cap, Four Swords, and then Ocarina of Time, after which the timeline splits into three branches: in the first, Link defeats Ganon, and is teleported back in time by Zelda to enjoy his childhood, leading into Majora’s Mask, then Twilight Princess, then Four Swords Adventures; in the second, Link defeats Ganon, but continues to live as an adult, leading into Wind Waker, then Phantom Hourglass, then Spirit Tracks.
Fans had already theorised that such a split existed, but the leak confirms that there is a curious third split, created by Link failing to defeat Ganon in Ocarina of Time. In this timeline, in which Ganon apparently defeats Link, the saga continues with A Link to the Past, then the two Oracles games on Game Boy Color, then Link’s Awakening, The Legend of Zelda, and The Legend of Zelda II: Adventure of Link.
This is the first time the Zelda timeline has ever been officially confirmed to such a degree.