Hey all! Sooooo last week, we marched to the beat of a drum-in a good way.
Today, I revisit the first in my favorite game series of all time.
(And you’re gonna need those invaluable maps and tips)
The Legend of Zelda came out for the NES, of course, back in 1987, and I bet nobody knew it was going to become a classic that would expand into a series of near-perfection.
Everyone knows Zelda, everyone knows how it plays. Explore. Get weapons and items. Fight. Plow through eight dungeons (plus a final one). Rescue the Princess and kill the bad guy. In this case, Princess Zelda and Ganon, respectively.
So looking back, of course there’s not a whole lot to the gameplay, especially when compared to games today-even current Zelda titles. But what makes it so special?
Well, for starters, Zelda is the original Dark Souls. Kind of. Zelda came out in a time when games were focused more on challenge than plot. Now, focusing on plot, story, atmosphere....that’s not a bad thing at all. But I miss the good old days when a game could push you to your limits. Games like Contra. Like Dragon Warrior. Games that challenged you, sometimes a bit too much.
What makes Zelda like Dark Souls is the way the game drops you in and says “go.” It’s up to you to find out where exactly you’re supposed to go.
The game makes you explore. Like, really explore.
It’s something that’s lost in adventure games today. Sure, you can explore Liberty City, or Gotham. But can you really? Will you? Or will you just head for the big glowing waypoint? Or fly in the direction that big, honking arrow is pointing?
I love current games as much as I do retro games. If you and I ever met, you’d likely be surprised by the various types of games in my collection. Just read some of these articles I write.
But that feeling of exploration, of freedom, I think, is a bit lost today. Games like Dark Souls have it. Sort of. Where Zelda differs from Dark Souls is how Zelda eases you into it’s world. Everyone knows that first screen, right? In the first screenshot? It’s you, or Link, in a field. There’s a door. You walk in. An old man immediately gives you a sword. Because (say it with me!) “It’s dangerous to go alone.”
From then on, it’s up to you to determine where to go and what to do. And if you pay attention, you’ll see that you’re in the lower-middle of the map. And you’ll notice the enemies in that surrounding area are pushovers. It’s not till you venture out that the enemies start getting tougher.
The game lets you get your bearings first. It’s ready when you are.
Not that I realized that when I was a kid. I’d mostly just flounder around after the first dungeon (because it’s right around the freaking corner) but when I got older, I started to take it more seriously.
There’s such joy when you finally find a dungeon. They aren’t “hilighted” for you. Some of them are even obnoxiously hidden. There’s such rage when you die, and a great big “YES!” feeling when you clear said dungeon, knowing you’re ever closer to beating the game. Again, something you don’t get today (most of the time). I don’t really care when I die in Call of Duty, because I know I’ll respawn at a checkpoint five seconds back from where I fell.
There’s also the secrets. Secrets which, back then, either you heard from a friend or stumbled across it yourself. Finding that rupee guy who hands over a ton of cash, telling you (say it with me!) “It’s a secret to everyone.”) Tracking down every heart container-which turned hidden collectibles into something useful, and not just something you pick up. Mostly everything in the game was a secret, like the dungeon locations.
It’s great because the only way to complete the game-at least, without the help of guides or FAQ’s-was to sit down and hunt down every last nook and cranny, looking for the elusive dungeon entrances. Finding every heart container, because the game is damn hard.
Also, the 2nd Quest. Making the game even more challenging, with remixed dungeons, and effectively doubling the content of the game. A “New Game Plus” before it existed. (I know the original Super Mario Bros. got harder after each playthrough, but come on. That game never really ends.)
In short, TLoZ stirs up emotions that most games today can’t.
Oh. And there’s the music. THE MUSIC.
You mostly hear one song most of the time. That’s the main theme to TLoZ, as you wander around Hyrule. It’s the best video game theme out there, people. Instantly recognizable to this day, it’s been reused a zillion times in Zelda games, and it never gets old. The Zelda series would go on to be one of the most musically rich series in video games.
In addition to the art. It’s one of the most artistically rich series’ too. Seriously, go buy this if you call yourself a Zelda fan, and don’t own it yet. (See what I did there? A “link” in a Zelda article! Oh ho ho.) Even this particular entry had a neat art style, sort of opting for a slightly classic medieval look, what with the dragons and statues and what not. The series would, of course, go on to examine a variety of artistic styles. All of which work out great, Wind Waker haters.
The last time I played the first Zelda was on the 3DS, and that’s where I appreciated it more than I ever have. (I didn’t use the 3DS Suspend feature-I wanted to play it old school.) Give it a go if you have the means. It’s still every bit as entertaining as it was.
Just play it without a guide, though. It’s much more fun that way. Because when you find something you were looking for, it’s because you found it.
Hit the comments section! Questions, comments, and future article suggestions are more than welcome!
Also, talk games with me on Twitter @WingZero351
Next week, we’ll-click-take a look at-click click-at an old RPG that-click-was-dammit, click click click click-