The Legend of Zelda: All Impa Appearances in Chronological Order

The Legend of Zelda Impa

The Legend of Zelda: All Impa Appearances in Chronological Order

Thanks to the series’ narrative taking root in the realm of branching realities and timelines (as well as it featuring a prominent subplot about recurring resurrections of heroes and villains), it makes perfect thematic sense that many of the aspects of The Legend of Zelda repeat from entry to entry. More than 35 years into the franchise’s existence, there are still certain staples fans have come to expect in each new title, regardless of whatever gameplay iterations each of these games bring to the table. At the end of the day, there will be a hero named Link, the villain Ganon, and a princess named Zelda. And, of course, the princess will need a protector and handmaid. This is where Impa comes in.

Beginning with the very first game in the series, Impa is yet another recurring character that takes on a very specific role in each series title she appears in. While she is not featured in every game in the series like our heroes Zelda and Link or the villainous Ganon, she is the only ancillary character outside the core trio who reappears with nearly as much frequency. That said, her appearance and duties as Zelda’s handmaid and nurse change from entry to entry, adapting to the changes in the series’ timeline and where each new game takes place. Regardless of these changes, though, Impa is traditionally a trusted source of help for both Link and Zelda.

Who is Impa?

So, who exactly is the nursemaid Impa? Even with her appearance and exact identity changing in each game she appears in, there are certain characteristics that stay consistent across each iteration of the recurring character. First and foremost, Impa is almost always Princess Zelda’s nurse and handmaid, protecting her and assisting her where possible. In later games, it is revealed that Impa is one of the sole survivors of the Sheikah tribe, a mysterious group of warrior protectors assigned to safeguard the human reincarnation of the goddess Hylia, aka Princess Zelda.

Although she initially appears as a weak, older woman who desperately needs Link’s help in rescuing Princess Zelda, later versions of Impa are capable warriors in their own right with a long history of battling against the ancient evil responsible for Ganon’s resurrection, the Demon King Demise. Some games in the series even go so far as to assign Impa as one of the sages responsible for protecting the Temple of Time and the Triforce from falling into the clutches of evil. In terms of recurring series characters who are almost as important as the heroes and villain each game centers around, no others even come close to Impa.

The Legend of Zelda (1986)

The Legend of Zelda artwork

Players don’t actually meet or interact with Impa in-game in the original Legend of Zelda, instead learning about the character through the game’s manual. With Hyrule under attack by Ganon’s forces and the fate of the Triforce in peril, Princess Zelda shattered one of the sections into 8 pieces and hid them across Hyrule. Before her capture and imprisonment at the hands of Ganon, she sends Impa to find the Hero of Legend who will restore the Triforce and save Hyrule. Unfortunately, Ganon catches wind of this and dispatches his own forces to intercept and capture Impa.

Thankfully, Impa is able to evade the attack from Ganon’s fiends but the encounter leaves her exhausted and weary (she is an eldery woman, after all). Shortly after narrowly escaping her fate, she comes across a young adventurer wearing a green tunic who offers her aid. Recognizing that this young man is the Hero of Legend she’s been seeking, she divulges the situation facing Hyrule to him in hopes that he will be the one to save the kingdom from Ganon. With the knowledge Impa imparts to him, this young adventurer named Link sets off to save the princess.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link artwork

The version of Impa that appears in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the very same that meets the hero years prior in the original game. Now 16, Link sees the symbol of the Triforce begin to appear on the back of his hand, prompting him to seek out guidance from the wise Impa once again. Princess Zelda is safe and busy ruling the kingdom of Hyrule, but Impa regales Link with the tragedy of Princess Zelda I. Following years of prosperity in the kingdom but no suitable heir to the Triforce, an evil wizard appears seeking to claim the artifact from the royal family. Princess Zelda I’s refusal to hand over the treasure results in her placement into an eternal slumber.

Realizing that the Triforce’s appearance must be connected to Princess Zelda I somehow, Link agrees to discover a way to wake the slumbering princess. Impa gives Link a special scroll and 6 crystals that have been passed down through her tribe for generations, explaining that they are essential in waking the princess and stopping whatever evil is keeping her in suspended animation. With Impa’s assistance and direct help once again, Link departs to complete his quest. This is the final appearance of this version of Impa.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time gameplay

©Nintendo Co., Ltd.

The next time we see Impa is in the 1998 classic Ocarina of Time. The first 3D Zelda game in the series, it switches up much of what we know about the series in favor of giving players a bold new vision for the franchise. An important distinction between this game’s version of the recurring Impa and her previous appearances is that Ocarina of Time‘s version is much younger and a warrior bodyguard rather than a nursemaid. Ocarina of Time‘s Impa is also the first in the series to officially descend from the Sheikah tribe, whose secrets she teaches to Princess Zelda.

Following Ganon’s acquisition of a piece of the Triforce, Impa escapes with Princess Zelda so that the two can go into hiding. This happens right as Link acquires the third Spirit Stone and pulls the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Temple of Time, prompting him to slumber for 7 years before emerging as an adult. With both Zelda and Link now old enough to look after themselves, Impa resides in Kakariko Village and eventually heads to the Shadow Temple to help Link imprison the creature within. Following this battle, Impa becomes the Sage of Shadows. With her duties as a sage preventing her from helping Link and Zelda directly, she tasks Link with both stopping Ganon and protecting the princess.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons (2001)

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons artwork

Following the radical change in the character’s appearance in Ocarina of Time, 2001’s Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons see Impa return to her traditional role as Princess Zelda’s handmaid and nurse as well as a return to her classic appearance of being an older, wiser woman. After the spirit of the evil sorcerer possesses Impa in order for Link to help her gain access to the sacred grove where the oracle Nayru lives, Impa vows to help Link rescue Nayru and bring her back to Hyrule for protection.

Just like Impa’s mission to protect Nayru in Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons sees Princess Zelda’s handmaid tasked with bringing the oracle Din to Hyrule for protection. When Din is kidnapped by General Onox, Impa turns to Link for assistance. However, thanks to an injury that Impa sustains during Din’s capture, she is unable to provide Link with any direct assistance.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword gameplay

The version of Impa that players meet in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the first version of the character in the series’ chronology, appearing as an older, but not elderly, woman. Rather than her typical short and stout appearance, she is instead tall and graceful, with blonde hair, tan skin, and tattoos featuring the telltale symbols of the Sheikah tribe. This Impa is one of the guardians of the reincarnation of the goddess Hylia and is also responsible for watching over The Imprisoned — the slumbering form of the Demon King Demise. While other versions of the character initially offer Link help due to recognizing his being the Hero of Legend, Skyward Sword‘s Impa believes Link to be unworthy.

Her ability to use the Gate of Time to protect Zelda and Link from Girahim prompts her to instruct Link to tell the future version of herself everything that transpires between them, and she eventually provides Link with help by teaching him the Ballad of the Goddess and gifting him the Goddess’s Harp. The younger Impa remains in the distant past while the elderly version remains in the present with Link and Zelda as they attempt to stop Girahim’s resurrection of Demise.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds sages

Following the twin versions of past and future Impa in Skyward Sword, A Link Between Worlds returns the character to a more traditional appearance and role more in line with the classic games in the series. This 3DS spiritual sequel to A Link to the Past features an elderly Impa who is Zelda’s nurse and handmaid. She is a descendant of one of the Seven Sages, which puts her directly in the path of Yuga. Yuga kidnaps Impa and Link must rescue her by venturing within Turtle Rock. With Impa joining the rest of the sages, Link can disrupt the barrier surrounding Lorule Castle and fight Yuga Ganon.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gameplay

Breath of the Wild may depart from a lot of Zelda series tradition, but it does still feature an elderly Impa who is both a help to Link and a descendant of the Sheikah tribe. She awaits Link in Kakariko Village, having patiently resided there during the 100 years of slumber since they last met. Returning to Impa and speaking with her throughout the game will slowly jog Link’s memory as he uncovers more of his past hidden throughout Hyrule. Eventually, players can speak with Impa and learn about the final words Princess Zelda spoke to her before going into hiding.

Impa also regales players with the tale of the beginning of the Age of Calamity and the first battle against Calamity Ganon using the Divine Beasts. While she doesn’t necessarily provide the player with any direct assistance in the game, the conversations players can have with the older and wiser Impa help to uncover hugely important pieces of Breath of the Wild‘s lore and backstory.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom gameplay

Having already imparted all of her knowledge with Link in Breath of the Wild, Impa returns in Tears of the Kingdom as an ally and quest-giver. Link works with Impa in completing the Geoglyph side quest. She maintains her same elderly appearance from Breath of the Wild but now wanders around Hyrule rather than residing permanently in Kakariko Village.

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