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PaVG #16: Zelda and the Song of Storms Paradox

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OcktoByte

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Time travel is a common theme throughout games. Due to the laws of physics, however, time travel is only possible in a few theoretical situations. Time travel backwards through time seems even less likely from a physics standpoint. However, these limitations make for interesting gameplay mechanics. For example, in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, time travel is a major theme throughout the game. As the name implies, you play music through a flute-like instrument called an Ocarina to play different songs with special effects, including time travel.

During the game, after you've traveled into the future, you meet a man in a windmill playing a song. He's angry that, years ago, a boy with an ocarina came to the windmill and played that song, making the windmill spin out of control. This is the Song of Storms.

Travelling back in time, you can return to the windmill as a child. You meet the man, who has neither met you, nor knows the song. If you play the Song of Storms now, the windmill goes out of control, leading to the events that occurred in the future.

This creates a paradox. The man who taught you a song in the future learns that song from a younger version of you. Paradoxes like these only complicate the idea of time travel for physicists trying to determine if it would be physically possible or worthwhile to travel through time.

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