Confusing, frustrating, and short. If any three words described my experiences with The Legend of Zelda as a kid, they would be here. Not kind words to a game that is considered to be one of the greatest of all time, right? However, as an adult, I can fully appreciate exactly what kind of game Nintendo had brought to the table.
Today, February 21, 2013, marks the 27th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda’s release in Japan; the very first in a great legacy of games for Nintendo.
First released in Japan for the Famicom February 21, 1986, The Legend of Zelda was a game unlike any other on the Nintendo System. It was a completely open world game, where the player can go anywhere they wish, and freely walk into any dungeon in the game (with the exception of the final dungeon). In fact, you could theoretically complete the initial eight dungeons without even picking up the sword. American players got their first taste of the game in July of 1987. Wrapped up in a golden cartridge, The Legend of Zelda was not just revolutionary for its gameplay, but also for its introduction of game saves.
Thanks to the internal battery, for the first time, players didn’t have to leave their system on or enter a password in order to pick up where they left off. The game even featured multiple save slots, so friends and family can start their own adventure without erasing someone else’s progress. Hints were difficult to come by in Link’s premiere title, but that was part of the experience. Those were the days in which friends would gather and talk about what was happening in their games. Rumors about powerful swords, draining lakes, and exactly what the old man meant when he said “Dodongo dislikes smoke”, filled many a schoolyard. Of course there was the one thing everyone knew: If you entered your name in as ZELDA in the player select screen, they instantly unlocked the second, more difficult quest. What you may not have known, is that if you looked at the dungeons, they spelled out “ZELDA”.
The Legend of Zelda for the NES has sold over 6.5 million copies. The game has since been rereleased on Gameboy Advance, Nintendo Gamecube, the Wii’s Virtual Console, and as part of the 3DS Ambassador Program. The impact of The Legend of Zelda, is shared throughout the gaming community, being in many lists of greatest games of all time, earning a 6th place G4’s Top 100 Video Games of All Time, number 10 on IGN’s Top 50 Games of All Time, and tops Gameinformer’s Top 200 Games of All Time at number 1.
What about the Pure Nintendo Crew? What do they have to say about this beloved series?
As a kid it was Mario that brought me into gaming and Zelda that made me fall in love with Nintendo. For me the Zelda franchise will always have a special place in my heart; right next to Saved by the Bell. I still have the same excitement starting Skyward Sword as I did playing through my first Zelda game those many years ago. A very happy 27th celebration for the Legend of Zelda series. Here is to 27 more years!
James Higginbotham – Editor-in-Chief, purenintendo.com
The Legend of Zelda was one of my first video game memories. From the second I heard the music at the title screen, I was hooked. What other game could you play in this big open world, find new items, and vanquish bosses in the many dungeons scattered throughout? It was one of the first games I remember tracing out map screens and marking where I found certain items. I remember taping together pieces of paper to link the different map screens. It was one of my favorite games on the NES and I can’t wait to see where the series goes next! Happy 27th Birthday!
Justin Sharp – Founder, purenintendo.com
I can’t possibly go into every detail about the Legend of Zelda, so I will stop here for now. While I may not have appreciated the title as a kid, this Nintendo classic is something everyone should pick up at least once in their life. So if confusing, frustrating, and short are the words I described my experiences with Zelda as a kid, what are they now? Incredible and timeless…