Gender-Neutral Twilight Princess

TP_GenderNeutral

Last week, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U. As an HD remaster of a decade-old GameCube/Wii game, the graphics are visually much sharper and the new GamePad controls are excellent, but there’s a long-standing grammatical “bug” that still remains: female players who choose to rename Link with their own name are still awkwardly referred to as male by many of the characters in the game. Link’s physical appearance and grunting vocalizations don’t really identify Link as a specific gender, and there’s absolutely nothing in the story of the game that requires the hero to be specifically male. This matters because male leading heroes are abundantly overrepresented in popular games.

I have fond memories of playing through the original Twilight Princess when it was released for the GameCube in 2006. As an old school gamer, I’m not a big fan of motion controls and I prefer the accuracy and comfort of a standard controller. I think the old GameCube version of Twilight Princess still holds up well today, so I decided to gender-neutral hack it for my daughter and other non-male gamers to enjoy fully immersing themselves in the experience of being Link in both human and wolf form.

I’ve already gender-neutral hacked several of my other favorite games from the Zelda series to fix the same grammatical bug, but this Twilight Princess gender-neutral hack took a bit longer since there was such a large amount of in-game text to review and edit.

To prevent introducing any glitches, I also had to stick within the same character length when replacing words. For example, the Gorons would frequently call Link “Brother,” so I replaced all of those instances with “Comrade.” Wherever the mayor or others would call Link “sonny” or “fella,” I swapped those out with “kiddo.” And when Malo calls Link “brudda,” I replaced those with “friend.” But in some cases, it wasn’t possible to simply swap a male word for a gender-neutral word with the same number of characters, and I had to subtly rephrase some lines of dialogue where the in-game text talks about the hero using the pronouns “he,” “his” and “him.”

After using one of several methods to extract or “dump” your own Twilight Princess GameCube game disc (specifically, the 2006 North American release) into an ISO file, you can then apply my gender-neutral patch of Twilight Princess as a .vcdiff patch file using the free xdelta utility which outputs a modified ISO file. You can play the modified ISO using a GC emulator or you can play it on an actual GC/Wii using any method that allows custom ISO files to be played on the GC/Wii.

This project is an ongoing work in progress, but here are the gender-neutral patches for the games in the Zelda series that I’ve completed so far and have made freely available:

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4 thoughts on “Gender-Neutral Twilight Princess

  1. “Hey dad?”

    “Yes, Suzy?”

    “I found this game in the bin of games. Can I play it?”

    Suzy shows copy of Twilight Princess.

    “Sure thing.”

    “Yay! I’ll get the Wii U started”

    “Hang on, sport. We can’t play THAT version.”

    “But why?”

    “It’s broken.”

    “Huh?”

    “How is your young mind going to react when you find out that the androgynous elf warrior on the cover is a boy?”

    “I don’t really care about that. I just want to play the game and enjoy the adventure.”

    “NO. YOU MUST PLAY THIS GAME AS I SEE FIT.”

    “But Da-”

    “Shut up, Suzy! This is for your own good! Now fetch Dad the GameCube controller adapter and a GCN controller. After I finish installing and configuring the Dolphin Emulator and patch this ISO file I pirated, THEN YOU CAN PLAY.”

    “Fuck this. Dad you’re a goddamn weirdo. I’m gonna go play Minecraft.”

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    1. Gotta admit, you made me laugh with that one. Sounded like a Family Guy episode. đŸ˜‰

      I have to say that I would consider myself a failure of a father if my daughter didn’t think of me as a weirdo. I think that goes with the territory of parenting an individual. At some point, they are going to think you are just plain weird.

      To your main point, parenting young children necessarily involves editing / curating / censoring / call it whatever, because a parent is constantly making choices — consciously or unconsciously — with every form of media (games, books, movies, etc) that is brought into the household and exposed to the child. It’s not until a certain age when children begin to discover and consume media on their own. I don’t see the harm in presenting this gender-neutral version of the game to my daughter while she is very young and very impressionable, and I don’t see any harm in letting her play Nintendo’s original version of the game later as well as showing her all the controversy that this stirred up online. I think it will be a great educational experience and will open up conversations about gender in video games and popular culture.

      Also, piracy? I don’t condone that. Extracting an ISO from your own GCN disc isn’t piracy. Neither is manipulating that code or hacking your own console to run modified code (which I find more enjoyable than emulators).

      -Tony

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  2. hi, i’m trying to apply this patch and keep getting the error message “xdelta3: unknown secondary compressor ID: XD3_INVALID_INPUT”
    ive searched up and down the internet to try and find some kind of instructions or troubleshooting advice and come up short. i’m using xdelta with a front end because i’m inexperienced with command prompts, and i’m brand new to the process of modding games. do you have any advice?

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    1. Hi Alyssa,

      Thanks for the inquiry! I’m happy that people are interested in playing these gender-neutral hacks!

      I encourage you to learn more about the command prompt. I’m not familiar with xdelta front ends, but I think the Windows version of the xdelta3.exe command is easy to use in the Windows Command Prompt. You can download the Windows xdelta3.exe from https://github.com/jmacd/xdelta-gpl/releases/download/v3.0.11/xdelta3-3.0.11-x86_64.exe.zip.

      Extract that zip file to your desktop and then put your original ISO file on the desktop along with the TMC_GenderNeutral.vcdiff patch file. Then you’ll need to open the Command Prompt and type:

      cd Desktop

      to change the current directory to your Desktop folder where the necessary files are located.

      Assuming your original ISO file is named original.iso and you want the patched ISO to be named modded.iso, you would then apply the TMC_GenderNeutral.vcdiff patch with the following command in Command Prompt:

      xdelta3-3.0.11-x86_64.exe -d -s original.iso TMC_GenderNeutral.vcdiff modded.iso

      Hope this helps!

      -Tony

      Like

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