The Legend of Zelda: a series I have reviewed twice in the past. The Legend of Zelda: a series that I have said may not be as good as its popularity suggests. The Legend of Zelda: a series that I have never been interested in and often passed over announcements of new games. The Legend of Zelda: a series that I was completely wrong about. Yes Level Up listeners, today’s review is made just to say that I’ve been wrong when discussing this great Nintendo series. So what happened since my last review to change my mind? I’ve played the first game in the series, The Legend of Zelda originally for the NES, on my 3DS.
I never really had the chance to play the original Legend of Zelda until I got it as part of the ambassador program. However, even before playing it I had respect for what this game had accomplished. A game like The Legend of Zelda might not seem that impressive now, but in 1986, it was a milestone for several reasons. First off, the game was so expansive and it took so much time that the game makers had to pioneer the save feature. An internal battery would allow this and within 10 years games without a save feature would have that as a mark against them.
The other thing I really respected about The Legend of Zelda was that it showcased what Nintendo was capable of. According to sources, the Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. were made simultaneously with opposite elements in mind: Mario would be side scrolling, Zelda would be top down, Mario would have a linear path, Zelda would have an open world. In retrospect it’s easy to say that both are great on their own, but at the time I doubt there was a better way for Nintendo to really show off their skills.
Most of the Zelda games that came out since I’ve been gaming have always been quite linear: Link needs to go somewhere, finds trouble waiting, needs to go into a dungeon to fix that trouble, finds item in dungeon, item helps him defeat the boss, going through dungeon fixes that trouble and the new item allows him to continue adventuring. It’s often either this pattern or one that omits the “trouble” for Link just being required to find objects kept in the dungeons (Nintendo has even made note of this pattern, stating that a Link Between Worlds will break it).
The Legend of Zelda doesn’t really have any of these patterns. You’re simply dropped into the world and you’re left to find where the dungeons are and how to access them on your own. I once entered the 5th Dungeon while looking for the second one, and what was the last Zelda game that would allow that? Though it can be difficult to figure it all out, there are enough hints to make it fair if you explore enough of the area. To enter some levels you do need items, but they are rarely necessary to beat the dungeon they are found in, so you can miss them. And some (still necessary) items like bombs or arrows are not found in dungeons at all; they are bought whenever you want them. But I’ve gotten a little off topic at this point: what I’m trying to say is that this game has a much more open world feel than what I have experienced in most other Legend of Zelda adventures, and that made all the difference to me.The Legend of Zelda really showed me what people like about the Zelda series: it’s the adventure of discovery. Yes, I’ve been told this before, but I don’t believe I’ve truly experienced it with Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time like others have, as I saw someone play through Link to the Past before doing it myself, and Ocarina of Time… well I’ll get to that one someday. But The Legend of Zelda, with its main focus clearly on making the player explore and discover everything, really made me feel like I was an adventurer (and having to make my own map in Excel helped too). I actually now put this game right behind Majora’s Mask for my favorite Zelda titles, and though I’m still not a “fan”, I am looking at Zelda games that I may have passed over and the new ones coming out (A Link Between Worlds does look really cool). So, if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of the Zelda games, I really suggest you play this as it might turn you into one. And if you are a fan but haven’t played through this, it might even give you a better appreciation of where the series came from. I give the Legend of Zelda originally for the NES 10 levels out of 10.