It didn’t matter if you were a fan of “sword and sorcery” games or not. When you saw the shiny gold cartridge that contained The Legend of Zelda, you were intrigued. At least, this was true for me. Until Zelda came along, I never gave much thought to things like wizards and dragons. I was all about spaceships and robots. But the lure of that glittering gold cart enticed me. Yes, the game cartridges for The Legend of Zelda were not grey in color like most others, but instead,as mentioned above, they were golden.
I may have been initially lured by the physical box the game has housed in, but I was hooked by the game itself as soon as I pressed the power button. Instantly, I was hypnotized by a haunting lovely melody and the slow pulse of a the glowing title screen. It was digital crack.
The Legend of Zelda takes place in the far away land of Hyrule. Zelda, the princess of Hyrule has been kidnapped by the evil Ganon. Ganon came into possession of an ancient artifact known as the Triforce of Power. Using it, he has taken over the kingdom with his terrible monsters. Our hero is a young man named, Link. Link must explore the kingdom in search of a similar artifact called the Triforce of Wisdom. However, for protection it has been cut into the eight separate pieces. Once the artifact is assembled, Link will have the power he needs to challenge Ganon and free princess Zelda.
Link begins the game with no weapons or items at his disposal. But almost immediately he is given a wooden sword. Other items drop from defeating enemies and conquering various dungeons found through the game. These dungeons also hold pieces of the Triforce Link needs to complete his quest. They are scattered across the kingdom and Link must find them and defeat the monsters that reside in each and collect the Triforce piece and progress further.
Eventually, link makes his way to the final dungeon at Spectacle Rock. However, be warned, only a hero with the right weapons will be able to deal that final blow to Ganon! Once the game is complete, you unlock the ability to play the “2nd Quest” – the same game, but with a newly designed set of challenges.
The Legend of Zelda was the first of its kind and it spawned many sequels. It stands as one of Nintendo’s greatest successes – right up there with Mario. These days, you’ll be hard pressed to find many people between the ages of 25-40 that are not familiar with Link and his epic search for the Triforce.
Difficulty: Medium – For the most part, things are pretty easy going. In the beginning there’s a bit of a challenge until Link gets some decent equipment. However, players who are willing to exercise a little patience, and take the time time to locate many of the hidden power ups won’t have much of a problem until the last few levels. At that point, things get a little tough again.
Story: Originally, the story seemed a bit shallow. However, this was largely due to very poor in-game translation and a thoughtless game manual. Being the first title in the series, this game lays the groundwork for what will eventually become a mythology all it’s own.
Originality: Good marks here. The formula for the game, in a small way, is a bit like Metroid. You have a whole world before you. You can explore it as you wish. However, there are many roadblocks along the way that will become passable as you progress. The overhead view is nice change in a a world that was typically dominated by sidescrolling games. This was one of the first games I remember with a stash of collectible equipment the player could swap out and select as needed.
Soundtrack: Haunting, ambient, and adventurous! Great stuff here. Timeless themes.
Fun: This is classic game with hours of fun. There’s no telling how many times I’ve played through this game from start to finish. It never gets old.
Graphics: The graphics in this game are a little hard to define. I get impression that the art direction in the game is supposed to have a “cartoonish” feel to them. Colorwise- it succeeds. The biggest problem is that with such a wide view, there’s not a lot of detail. Regardless, everything on the screen is clear. There’s really no question what various on-screen objects are supposed to be. For an overhead game, the graphics were good enough.
Playcontrol: No real issues here. This applies to both the original release as well as the modern-day ports available. The overhead view of the game, and simple controls lead to an all-around precise experience.
Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 – This is classic 8-bit Nintendo at it’s finest. For all the reasons listed above, this is one title that I have to recommend to every player regardless of age.
Available now on: Wii Viritual Console, Nintendo eShop
Other Reviews In This Series:
LoZ – LoZ II – Link to the Past – Link’s Awakening – Ocarina of Time – Majora’s Mask – Oracle of Season & Ages – Wind Waker – Four Swords – Minish Cap – Twilight Princess – Phantom Hourglass – Spirit Tracks – Skyward Sword – Link Between Worlds – Breath of the Wild