Ganon made his first appearance in The Legend of Zelda as the main antagonist. Ganon invades Hyrule with his minions, stealing the Triforce of Power. To protect the world from Ganon, Princess Zelda breaks the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and scatters them across the land, but is then captured. She sends her nursemaid, Impa, to find someone to defeat Ganon. Impa discovers Link, the protagonist of the series. He gathers the Triforce pieces and defeats Ganon, reducing him to a pile of ashes and recovering the Triforce of Power. Afterwards, he brings both the Triforces of Power and Wisdom to Zelda.
Ganon makes no major appearance in the sequel Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, as it focuses on his minions' attempt to revive him by killing Link and spilling Link's blood over Ganon's ashes. If they succeed, Ganon's silhouette appears on the Game Over screen accompanied by his laugh.
He later appeared in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game A Link to the Past, trapped in a place called the Dark World—formerly called the Sacred Land, before Ganon corrupted it. The game focuses on Ganon's attempt to escape from the Dark World and conquer the Light World, utilizing minions such as the wizard Agahnim to sacrifice the seven descendants of the sages who sealed him away, in order to break the seal. Zelda summons Link to rescue her, but she is captured and sent to the Dark World. Once Link defeats Agahnim, he is sent to the Dark World, where he rescues the seven maidens, defeats Agahnim yet again, and pursues Ganon into his lair, where Ganon is eventually defeated. Link finds the completed Triforce, and uses it to undo everything Ganon has done.
In Link's Awakening, Dethl, a physical manifestation of the Wind Fish's nightmares, fills the role of the antagonist. During the final battle, Dethl assumes several forms, all of which are based on antagonists and creatures from Link's past. One of Dethl's forms is "Ganon's Shadow" and is constructed from Link's memories of his battle with Ganon in A Link to the Past.
He makes a major appearance in Ocarina of Time in his humanoid form; in the chronology of the series's story, it is his earliest appearance. Ganon swears his allegiance to the King of Hyrule, in order to betray him and conquer Hyrule Castle. Princess Zelda asks Link to take the Master Sword, a mystical weapon used to defeat evil. After Link finds all the items necessary to take the sword, Zelda and her nursemaid Impa are chased from Hyrule Castle by Ganon. Once Link opens the door protecting the Master Sword and takes it, he falls into a deep sleep, allowing Ganon to steal the Triforce of Power from the room. Seven years later, Link awakens as an adult, and finds Hyrule corrupted by Ganon. Link collects the power of the seven sages—including Zelda, who is kidnapped after she reveals herself. He encounters Ganon, defeating him and escaping from the castle with Zelda. However, Ganon uses the Triforce of Power to turn into his bestial form. Link defeats him with the help of Zelda and the other sages, and Ganon is banished to the Sacred Realm, swearing vengeance against Zelda, the Sages and Link.
Ganon does not make an appearance in the Nintendo 64 game Majora's Mask, but was referenced under the word "Evil" in the prologue.
Two Game Boy Color games, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, do not initially have anything to do with Ganon, but once both are linked together and both beaten, two of Ganon's minions, Koume and Kotake, seek to revive him by using Zelda and two oracles called Din and Nayru. Ganon is revived in his bestial form, but since Zelda was not sacrificed, he is mindless and is defeated by Link.
Ganon does not make an appearance in the Game Boy Advance game Four Swords.
Ganon appears in the GameCube game The Wind Waker, once again as the main antagonist. Following Ocarina of Time, Ganon escaped from the Sacred Realm. Link having disappeared, no one is able to defeat Ganon, forcing the Hylians to pray to the Goddesses, asking them to save Hyrule. The Goddesses respond by flooding the land with endless rain in order to destroy Ganon, driving the Hylian people to the mountain tops. When he is confronted in his fortress by the new incarnation of Link, Ganon reveals his motives, finding the three Triforce pieces by capturing both Link and Zelda (for the second time) who hold the Triforces of Courage and Wisdom. After Link fails to defeat Ganon in their first encounter, Link finds the Master Sword and battles Ganon in the sunken Hyrule Castle. Ganon explains his resentment of Hyrule, describing his country as one that is filled with death and despair, and that Hyrule was rich with life—that being his reason for trying to conquer it. However, before Ganon can use the Triforce to revert the flood, it is used to drown Hyrule Castle by the King of Hyrule. Link thrusts the Master Sword into Ganon's head, turning him to stone and drowning him with Hyrule Castle.
Ganon makes a late appearance in Four Swords Adventures, where he is revealed to be the main antagonist. Prior to the events of the game, Ganondorf was to be the guardian of the Gerudo and the desert. However, his heart grew twisted with each passing year, and he became obsessed with obtaining power at any cost. The Gerudo now shun him because he disobeyed their laws and fled to the sacred Pyramid. There, he took the Trident and was transformed into Ganon by its dark magic and is using the wind mage Vaati for his own means. After Vaati is defeated, Link and Zelda do battle with Ganon, sealing him away with the Four Sword.
Ganon does not make an appearance in the Game Boy Advance game The Minish Cap.
In Twilight Princess, Ganon appears in flashback midway through the game, though he is the true antagonist behind all of the events of the story. Before the events of the game, Ganon was captured by the Sages and was condemned to death. As he was the bearer of the Triforce of Power, the Sages were unable to kill him even with the sacred Sword of the Sages. Subsequently, in his rage, Ganon breaks his chains and kills the Sage of water before claiming the Sword of the Sages for himself. The Sages, desperate to stop the King of Evil, banished him to the Twilight Realm, leaving him with a glowing wound on his chest. In the Twilight Realm, Ganon presents himself as a demonic deity to Zant, delegating his power and persuading him to attempt conquest of the light world. Ganon does not appear again until the end of the game—in the throne of Hyrule Castle, proclaiming it as his own. He is challenged by Midna, prompting Ganon to possess Princess Zelda and attack Link before changing to beast form (in a more feral style than previous appearances, mirroring Link's wolf form). Midna recovers and teleports Link and Zelda to Hyrule Field before attempting to defeat Ganon, causing the castle to explode. Ganon appears on horseback, holding Midna's fused shadow and crushing it between his hands to show his victory over Midna. After a battle on horseback, Ganon requests a final duel, using the execution sword as his weapon. Link defeats Ganon, impaling him through the wound in his chest with the Master Sword. After getting up and uttering a few words, the Triforce symbol on his hand disappears, and Zant is shown snapping his own neck in a vision. Ganon gasps, his eyes glaze over, and he seemingly dies standing in place. However his fate is not actually disclosed.
In Phantom Hourglass, Ganon appears in the opening sequence that summarizes the plot of The Wind Waker.
Ganon does not make an appearance in the Nintendo DS game Spirit Tracks.
While Ganon does not make an appearance in the Wii game Skyward Sword, his appearance in Ocarina of Time is foreshadowed. Demise, the main villain of the game, states before his ultimate destruction that his hatred will be reborn anew again and again through a certain incarnation in an endless cycle to torment Link and Zelda's descendants and attack Hyrule. This implies that Ganondorf is the reincarnation of Demise and is the source of his demonic powers before obtaining the Triforce of Power.
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“It is among the ranks of school-age children, those six- to twelve-year-olds who once avidly filled their free moments with childhood play, that the greatest change is evident. In the place of traditional, sometimes ancient childhood games that were still popular a generation ago, in the place of fantasy and make- believe play . . . todays children have substituted television viewing and, most recently, video games.”
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