Faces of Evil Opening Analysis
Somehow, in just over a minute, the opening cutscene of Link: The Faces of Evil for the Phillips CD-i manages to compactly and effectively give all the expository information needed to enjoy the game to it's fullest. And it manages to do so in a manner that beats the pants off of a whole slew of other games with cutscenes that might as well be movies. (Also for some reason I'm using big fancy words. You know, to make this not sound like I woke up one morning and had a weird urge to dissect a cutscene from an infamously bad game like I'm in 11th grade English class again. Not like that's the case or anything.)
Over the course of this article I will dissect the absolute perfection that is this opening cutscene. (Nope. Can't type that with a straight face.)
LINK: "Gee, it sure is boring around here."
We are introduced to a man wearing a green tunic. As we can tell by his excellent hair, the excellent workmanship of the windows behind him, and the fact he can so casually state that he is bored while rolling his eyes and stretching his arms, the man is obviously in a state of wealth. He does not have to worry about having to do work or indeed having any responsibilities at all. College students would kill to be in the man's place.
KING: "My boy, ..."
A new character enters the scene. This is a larger man, dressed in colors imitating that of gold. His oversized crystal goblet of exquisite wine and various accessories of gold give off the impression that this man is in an even higher status in society than the man in the green tunic. Indeed, the man in gold claims that the man in green is "[his] boy", implying that either the man in green is his son, or is otherwise like a father figure to him.
KING: "...this peace is what all true warriors strive for!"
The man in green and gold are warriors, having achieved a state of peace in their kingdom. Judging by the fact that the man in green feels the need to state that "it sure is boring around here", one can assume this peace has only recently befallen the kingdom of our warriors. The man in gold, being older and wiser, can assure the man in green that the ultimate objective of a warrior is not to fight, but to ensure the well-being nation.
LINK: "I just wonder what Ganon's up to."
The well being of a man named Ganon has the man in green concerned. Perhaps he is the leader of an allied nation, having just fought the great forces alongside our heroes? Evidently, whoever Ganon is, he holds some significance to the well being of the men in green and gold.
[Gwonam flies in on a magic carpet]
Within this world, reality is not bounded by the strict laws of our physical universe. The realm of Link: The Faces of Evil allows for fantastical elements such as gravity-defying carpets and possibly even magic spells. Additionally, the robe, pointed shoes and sultan's hat that this old man sports seems indicative of a man who is well-acquainted with the arts of magic. Perhaps he hails from Arabia, or this world's counterpart dry, hot land.
GWONAM: "Your majesty,..."
The old magician addresses one of the two men as "your majesty", a title typically reserved for royalty. As the man in gold appears to rank higher in society than the man in green, due to his more refined choice in apparel, it it likely that the man in gold is the King of this nation.
GWONAM: "...Ganon and his minions have seized the island of Koridai."
The magician does not think as highly of Ganon as the man in green, as he denounces his warriors and soldiers as mere "minions". It could also be equally likely that Ganon isn't the leader of a nation at all, but merely a well-known criminal. However, if this were the case, it would be strange that the man in green refers to him so casually, as if he were an old friend. Regardless, it is impossible to say why Ganon has seized the island of Koridai, but what we do know is that the great evil from before was preventing him from doing so earlier. Perhaps he chose this period while the neighboring kingdoms were recovering from the attack to take the island of Koridai and claim it's resources as his own. Again, it is impossible to say with any certainty; just merely speculate at likely possibilities.
KING: "Hmm... How can we help?
Notice here how the King does not seem terribly concerned. Of course, he likely wants to keep some good-will among the people of Koridai. However, from his relative non-chalance about the situation, it's likely that Koridai isn't all that important an asset to the King. It also does not seem that he cares about keeping a positive relationship with Ganon, as helping the people of Koridai would ensure his wrath.
GWONAM: "It is written 'Only Link can defeat Ganon.'"
Ganon is more than just a mere leader of a country. Legends and prophecies speak of him and his terror. He's a very well-known individual; his name alon sends shivers down the spines of countrymen. The magician comes with the authoritative lore on ending the reign of Ganon. A man named Link must rise to the challenge.
LINK: "Great! I'll go grab my stuff."
And, conveniently enough, that man is right here. The man in green, well-prepared for his journey, stands tall and proclaims his willingness to travel across the world and defeat Ganon once and for all. (This is likely why Link was concerned about Ganon earlier; he was worried he was going to strike again.)
GWONAM: "There is no time. Your sword is enough."
Whatever Ganon is up to, it's happening fast. There is no time for Link to search through the castle armory, strategize, and prepare the best plan. If Link doesn't depart soon, Koridai is doomed. With Koridai captured, who knows what could come next.
LINK: "[To Zelda] How about a kiss, for luck?
We are introduced to yet another character. She appears more extravagantly dressed than Link, featuring a headband much like the king and a vest in blue and purple. The deep colors usually associated with royalty and the similar apparel lead us to assume that this woman is the daughter of the King, or otherwise extremely close. It also appears that Link has some sort of romantic relationship with her, as he's (very terribly) attempting to flirt with her. This makes it very likely that Link is not related to the King as is simply a trusted individual.
ZELDA: "You've got to be kidding!"
Link may be interested in the woman. She, however, it most definitely not interested in Link. It sounds like this isn't the first time this has happened either. The woman's hard-broiled sassy eye roll and knowing smirk also seems indicative of her attitude towards Link. She enjoys this banter.
[Link covers his mouth and grins uncontrollably]
Link takes much amusement from his rejection. Frankly, Link probably did not ever seriously want to court the woman. It could be possible that they ware simply very close friends, often teasing each other with absurd premises of romance. It's a sassy, fun sort of friendship that most people would look on in utter confusion. In addition, this shows that Link it not some battle-hardened lost soul. He's willing and ready to enjoy himself and have fun, if the situation allows.
GWONAM: "Squadala! We're off!"
In no time at all, Link departs with the magician on his magic carpet. Despite the doom and gloom the magician presented to the King, he is a very fun-loving, joyous thrill seeker. Why else would one do a dangerous, stupidly tight loop while screaming "Squadala!"? Evidently he enjoys living on the edge when responsibilities aren't getting in the way.
LINK: "Wow. What are all those heads?"
At what is persumably above the island of Koridai, Link looks down. It seems Link is observent, having noticed the land has been infected by heads growing off the sides of cliffs. Link is also a very curious man, not willing to make assumptions (such as "Ganon did it!") but instead wanting to hear the facts before proceding.
GWONAM: "These are the Faces of Evil. You must conquer each."
The magician rewards Link for restraining his accusations. He sits down and explains that these faces are, indeed, new, dangerous, and in need of destruction. Ganon must have set up these faces for some reason or another (persumably evil reasons) and they must be the key to his control over the land.
LINK: "I guess I better get going."
Link realizes he can't delay any longer. Koridai is very blatantly in trouble, and he must help if the countrymen have any hope at surving Ganon's onslaught. As much as he'd love to sit back, do loop-de-loops on a magic carpet and have fun the the woman in the palace, now is the time to defeat Ganon, as the prophecy states.
GWONAM: "Here is the map. Choose where you wish to go."
The magician, as before, is prepared. He's produced a map (out of thin air, even) showcasing every shop, village, and watering hole on the island. If there's one thing Link won't be, it's unprepared. Of course, just because he knows the island by the back of his hand doesn't mean he knows where to start. He delegates the task to Link, knowing that as an experienced warrior, he's likely to know where the weak part in the chain is; where Ganon's line of dominoes starts. Link must decide where to go to begin his journey to save Koridai from the Faces of Evil.
I'm sorry. That probably made me sound like some pretentious dweeb who tears all the fun out of everything. But hey, you do have to admit it's an informative cutscene. You know who you are, what your quest is, what your favorite color is, and why you need defeat Ganon. Compare this to, say, Final Fantasy X. That game is pretty much a really long movie with some Blitzball thrown in. It could take a few lessons from the Faces of Evil. (Nope. Can't type that with a straight face either.)