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Link the himbo

A pretty face, a kind heart, and a quiet brain

Link and Zelda in Skyward Sword with Link looking utterly baffled Image: Nintendo via Polygon
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

At the intersection of respectful kindness, masc-aligned beauty and strength, and a general sense of not being all that bright lies the himbo.

Himbos are golden retriever boyfriends: a pretty face, a kind heart, and a quiet brain. Picture Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove.

These traits aren’t exclusive to himbos. Displaying only one or two of these traits, though, makes up the stereotypes circling himbo — jocks, bullies, gentle giants, beefcakes, and just decent guys. Only the himbo has all three at once.

As I was playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, I couldn’t help but wonder about the himboness of Link. Is he kind and respectful? He’s constantly saving the world, which is a generally good thing to do. Is he strong and pretty? Absolutely. But does he have that je ne sais quoi of a true himbo?

Link from Skyward Sword HD looking up in awe Image: Nintendo via Polygon

Look hard at this picture of Link from Skyward Sword.

This is the face Link makes when confronted with the mind-shattering knowledge of … the existence of a sword. With all the extra pixels of an HD remake, there was plenty of room to paint the subtlest spark of a thought into those irises, some awareness or nuance to his reaction.

And that’s when the history of Link clicked into place, when his himbo nature stepped into the spotlight. Just picture how excited he gets every time he cooks a new meal in Breath of the Wild. Hell, look at the way this pixelated dork showed off his shiny new toys way back in 1986. Pure golden retriever energy. Pure himbo.

It might not be fair to judge Link’s mental depths since he’s a playable video game character and literally the avatar of whoever’s holding the controller. But that doesn’t mean he’s completely hollow. He’s generous and loyal and would (and does) throw himself into hot lava to help Zelda. And yeah, at the same time, when he has a conversation, you get the sense that all he hears is “I’m a potato!” But that’s what makes him so special in a world of Master Chief, Nathan Drake, and Marcus Fenix knockoffs.

Making the world a better place, whether by helping a neighbor wrangle cuccos or by defeating an ancient evil hellbent on domination, is hard work. And Link has been doing it for 35 years, all while maintaining his charming naïveté, his perfect hair, and his optimism. Would that there were more himbos like Link in the world.

The next level of puzzles.

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