Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series easily tops my list of favourite video game franchises, yet it took me this long to sit down and play the game that started it all. The modernized gamer I have become was thrown off by the lack of direction at the start of the game. I wandered into a cave, picked up a sword that was carelessly on the ground, and was warned about how it’s dangerous to go alone by a kindly old gentlemen. Then I was turned loose on the original land of Hyrule, and left to fight my way to whatever map square I pleased. Overall, I enjoyed my time with the granddaddy of open world games. I can see that this title gave a strong foundation for what has today become the imposing tower of Legend of Zelda games.
How Far I Got
I shamefully admit that I did use an online guide to beat this game. My good excuse is that I have a unending list of games I need to play, and I didn’t want to spend too much of my time slashing through 8 bit Hyrule, as fun as it was. Even with a full set of hearts, a ring that halved damage, and a fully expanded arsenal of bombs, I still found myself viciously torn apart by mobs of angry dungeon monsters. After 51 brutal deaths, I was able to frantically slash through Prince Darkness Gannon, and guide the Hero of Hyrule to Princess Zelda’s side. Beating the main quest did unlock a second harder mode adventure. Sorry Princess, but you’re on your own for that one girl…
Yes, it is definitely dangerous to go alone, but I had a trusty online guide by my side. The story is the classic “Quick, go save the dear Princess before the big bad guy hurts her/destroys the world!” scenario, and it is introduced in a humorously terrible text translation. You are essentially dropped on the overworld map and are given the freedom to wander wherever you choose to, with no defined path to take. Though this is only the second game I have ever played from this era, this seems like an open world concept that was far ahead of its time. The cartridge also has one of those high tech battery things that allows you to save your progress; a much needed feature for this expansive 8 Bit land. Don’t be fooled by its misleading simplicity, its a quest in itself just finding the entrance to the first dungeon. Progress is not simply handed out, it is earned by exploring landscape and stumbling upon its many secrets, or by following a guide if you’re impatient like me.
There are 8 regular dungeons to discover and conquer before you can attempt to fight your way to “Prince Darkness” in his Death Mountain lair. Along the epic journey you will seek out a variety of items to help you advance, and fight off the fearsome ancestors of modern day Zelda bosses and enemies. Each dungeon gets progressively more challenging, and bosses from the early dungeons often make brutal reappearances as regular enemies in some of the later level rooms. Combat is usually as simple as pressing “A” to slash your sword, but this lowers your shield and leaves you open to projectiles, and requires correct timing to avoid getting hit. Some enemies are impervious to frontal attacks, and some are vulnerable to items you’ve discovered. All of them can quickly chew your hearts into oblivion if you get complacent. Outside of the dungeons, health bolstering heart containers and optional defensive items can be hunted down. There is also a minigame that let’s you gamble your hard earned rupees, and many shady shopkeepers with few words to offer and expensive items to sell. So much to do in so little bits of code!
The bright cheery overworld and dingy cramped dungeons are intricately designed, considering the limits of this early generation technology. 8-Bit Link shines in all of his sword slashing glory and there are a whole horde of unique enemy designs. Very impressive graphical details for its time, and I don’t think they can be any better on the NES.
I’ve been whistling that time-honored overworld theme while writing this post. It’s such an iconic tune and has made its way in some variation into all of the descendant Zelda games. There is an array of differing sound effects and that “You’re approaching the dungeon boss” growl always incites an epic feeling. My only critiques are that there is very little variety in music tunes. You’ll mostly be listening to the overworld and ‘in a dungeon’ 8-Bit melodies for the vast majority of the game. Also, the concise NPC text scrolling tones were a bit annoying.
My Overall Biased Opinion
This is a historic masterpiece that still holds up in today’s gaming world. It’s challenging but rewarding once you’ve pulled through the journey. It was a pleasure to finally make my way though the game that started my all time favourite video game franchise. I highly recommend this to any Zelda fans who have experienced the first game yet.
SPOILERS AHEAD!! You have been warned.
Favourite Story Moment
Destroying Prince Darkness Gannon, and saving the dear Princess Zelda from a horrible fate. I have to admit, my inner feminist wants to suggest that she take a Hyrulean self defense class some lifetime, instead of consistently burdening the brave man in her life with the arduous task of saving her from evil forces. I’m sure the battle hardened Samus Aran could also offer her a few expert tips. I’ll give her props for being more helpful in the later games though.
The blessed ring in Gannon’s Death Mountain lair that reduced all damage to 1/4. Wizzrobes were no longer an issue after that.
Favorite “Oh S@#%” Moment
Facing the final boss at last! It only took me one try, and I think it was pure luck. He turns invisible and you’re suppose to figure out his pattern, and then strike where he should be next. I just ran around the room slashing my sword randomly and happened to hit him 4 times, and then promptly killed him with one of my enhanced arrows.
The map square with the nice fairy lady who refills all your hearts. I paid her many visits between deaths/dungeons.
Link, or [Insert Name Here], the courageous hero, who is destined to be reincarnated throughout the ages in order to save Hyrule from the immortal forces of evil. And to also rescue his hapless woman from the persistent claws of darkness. Him and Mario should really form a support group, or maybe ask Samus to open up a boot camp that forges helpless Princesses into self-sufficient battle queens.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
Before my acquisition of the godly protective ring, any dungeon room teeming with blue Wizzrobes left me crying for mercy, and hammering the D-Pad and A buttons in a frenzy of terror. It was so satisfying when I finally cleared the room.
In other news:
- I had made a side quest for myself to beat The Legend of Zelda and Metroid for the NES by the end of this year. I’m halfway there! I’ll be jumping into Metroid next. By the way, I haven’t bought any new games since Sept. 18th either. I’m so proud of myself! 😀
- No progress to report on my other two games on the go: ReCore and Fallout 4. I did try to play ReCore, but even after the patch, the game froze after 5 minutes and I didn’t have the will to sit through more load times to restart…
- Thanks to moresleepneeded, retr0pia, and evilwizardesq for nominating me for prestigious blogger awards. I don’t know if/when I’ll do these posts, but I really appreciate the nominations. Go check out these much more entertaining bloggers!
- I’m getting my first tattoo! I’ve made a consultation appointment with a local award winning tattoo artist for the beginning of December. I want it to represent Lightning from FFXIII, and I’m really excited to see the design she comes up with. I’m also terrified and incredibly anxious for the appointment day to arrive…