Written by: J.H. Longman
In 1986, a lasting Legend was born and although the game has been out for 30 years and is not an actual Wii U game, it is still playable as such thanks to Virtual Console and so what better way to finish #ZeldaMonth than to review the game that birthed a series I loved, so with that in mind, here is my 2016 Anniversary Review of The Legend of Zelda.
Ocarina of Time set the bar for videogames in the new millennium and A Link to the Past did the same for the 90’s but neither one of them would have been possible if it wasn’t for the epicness that was the Legend of Zelda. With its dungeon exploration, challenging gameplay, interesting dungeon layout and vast world to explore, Zelda 1 is what truly opened the door to how RPG games should be and just in case the game wasn’t hard enough there was even a Second Quest, which was even more difficult and different to your first play-through, because dungeons and item placement was different and enemies were made harder.
Interestingly enough, you can just play Second Quest straight away, if you enter your name as Zelda, but that is common knowledge, what isn’t is the fact that Second Quest only came into being after Nintendo discovered that Zelda 1 only took up half the amount of space on the cartridge and because they were in the habit of using up every available space, they were able to save the game again and the second game became the Second Quest, a feature which would eventually evolve into Master Quest and Hero Mode.
Not only was Zelda 1 a great game, but it also had a great story. Admittedly it does seem a little simple compared to the stories we see in videogames nowadays, but it was still a decent story nonetheless, so with that in mind, instead of my own general recap of the story, I’m going to share the text that came with the game’s instruction manual:
“A long, long time ago the World was in an age of Chaos.
“In the midst of this chaos, in a little kingdom in the land of Hyrule, a legend was being handed down from generation to generation, the legend of the ‘Triforce’; golden triangles possessing mystical powers. One day, an evil army attacked this peaceful little kingdom and stole the Triforce of Power. This army was led by Ganon, the powerful Prince of Darkness who sought to plunge the World into fear and darkness under his rule. Fearing his wicked rule, Zelda, the princess of this kingdom, split up the Triforce of Wisdom into eight fragments and hid them throughout the realm to save the last remaining Triforce from the clutches of the evil Ganon. At the same time, she commanded her most trustworthy nursemaid, Impa, to secretly escape into the land and go find a man with enough courage to destroy the evil Ganon. Upon hearing this, Ganon grew angry, imprisoned the princess, and sent out a party in search of Impa.”
“Braving forests and mountains, Impa fled for her life from her pursuers. As she reached the very limit of her energy she found herself surrounded by Ganon’s evil henchmen. Cornered! What could she do? … But wait! All was not lost. A young lad appeared. He skillfully drove off Ganon’s henchmen, and saved Impa from a fate worse than death.”
“His name was Link. During his travels he had come across Impa and Ganon’s henchmen. Impa told Link the whole story of the princess Zelda and the evil Ganon. Burning with a sense of justice, Link resolved to save Zelda, but Ganon was a powerful opponent. He held the Triforce of Power. And so, in order to fight off Ganon, Link had to bring the scattered eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom together to rebuild the mystical triangle. If he couldn’t do this, there would be no chance Link could fight his way into Death Mountain where Ganon lived.”
“Can Link really destroy Ganon and save Princess Zelda?
“Only your skill can answer that question. Good luck. Use the Triforce wisely.”
One thing that did stick out during my first few sessions with the game this year, was how similar it is to Tri Force Heroes. Tri Force Heroes may not have the full on open world with the “go anywhere you want” function like A Link Between Worlds and Zelda 1 has, but on single player, the dungeons are plenty challenging, challenging enough to get you thinking just like the original game did and there is nowhere nearly as much hand-holding in TFH like most over Zelda games now have. Allow me to be clear, I am in no way saying Tri Force Heroes is a modern Zelda 1, or in any way equal to it, but merely pointing out that it does have some of its best elements in it, as well as its simpler story compared to the lavish ones we’ve seen in recent games.
However having played through it the way I did, I don’t think in any way it is as difficult as everyone has made it out to be, the enemies movement follows certain patents, controls are simple. It’s like from the get-go you know what to do, it’s just the “actually doing it” bit that is hard. I didn’t keep dying because I’m not good enough to play the game, but dying because I keep foolishly trying to get ahead of myself, not focusing nearly as much as I should have as I’m too distracted by the musical musings of Koji Kondo.
Zelda 1 also remains of the best looking games I have ever seen and not just compared to NES games, but games in general and for true gamers and die-hard Zelda fans, it’s one of the most challenging and very fun game you could ever play. With that in mind it’s time for Pros & Cons:
-Beautiful, challenging and has great sounds to play along to.
-A harder mode in the form of Second Quest to truly test your skills.
-The game introduced three iconic characters that would continue to feature in the series, thus surviving the test of time.
-Possesses one of the darkest storylines in the entire Zelda timeline as it actually takes place after the events in Ocarina of Time, provided Link failed to defeat Ganondorf.
-Revolutionised Role-Playing Games.
It birthed the classic line: “It’s Dangerous to go Alone.”
-There are no cons.
There is nothing wrong with this game at all, not even the game’s general difficulty because even then that’s a plus and I am more than ready to announce my final score, a truly deserved 9.0/10.0 slayed Octoroks and that’s not just compared to other Zelda games, but all games in general, new and old. Zelda 1 is a game a lot of us missed the first time round, and a few more missed it the second time round too, but if you consider yourself a true gamer, than you just have to get this Virtual Console title because you don’t know real gaming until you have played it yourself.
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.
The OFFICIAL Miketendo64 Zelda Series Chart: by J.H. Longman
(List of Games include all those Played & Completed by ourselves and the Games that are next on our list to be play)
(1986) The Legend of Zelda 9.0/10.0
(1988) The Adventure of Link 7.6/10.0
(1992) A Link to the Past 9.0/10.0
(1993) Link’s Awakening 7.6/10.0
(1998) Ocarina of Time 9.9/10.0
(2000) Majora’s Mask 9.6/10.0
(2001) Oracle of Seasons 7.3/10.0
(2001) Oracle of Ages 7.3/10.0
(2005) Minish Cap 8.8/10.0
(2006) Twilight Princess 9.8/10.0
(2007) Phantom Hourglass 8.5/10.0
(2008) Spirit Tracks 8.4/10.0
(2011) Ocarina of Time 3D 9.9/10.0
(2011) Skyward Sword 9.4/10.0
(2013) The Wind Waker HD 9.1/10.0
(2013) A Link Between Worlds 9.3/10.0
(2014) Hyrule Warriors 9.5/10.0
(2015) Majora’s Mask 3D 9.6/10.0
(2015) Tri Force Heroes 7.3/10.0
(2016) Twilight Princess HD *To be determined upon review
(2016) Hyrule Warriors Legends *To be determined upon review
(2016) Zelda U *To be determined upon review