The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda

The legend of Zelda was released for the NES in 1997. It stood out from the other cartridges on the shelve with its shiny gold exterior. It dominated games and spawned one of the best video game series ever. It was the game that introduced the famous Zelda theme song (it turns out that a panicking Koji Kondo made it in a day when the track he had previously made failed or was lost). It was unique from Super Mario Bros and the other games people were playing at the time with its non linear open world experience. It has influenced countless numbers of games today and It is one of my favorite games of all time.

Please comment and tell me what you think it should be rated and why.

Here is another review from Gamefaqs.

A darkened room. A crazy guy running around, shouting such odd words like “LEEVERS?” and “TEKTITES?”. And let us not forget the classic “WHICH….WAY….TO….GO?”. Heh, if you were fortunate you also saw this TV commercial back then. It’s the original ad for the Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda game. It promised much, and delivered on most. No game was like it then in terms of gameplay and adventure. Deemed a NES classic, and rightfully so, The Legend of Zelda is still a hugely popular game and it started one of Nintendo’s most loved game franchises ever. Haven’t heard of it yet? Read on!

STORY: 8/10

For its time, not a bad one at all. You see, an evil man called Ganon possesses a powerful artifact called the Triforce of Power. Ganon kidnapped the princess of Hyrule, princess Zelda, and stole another Triforce called the Triforce of Wisdom. In order to stand a shot of rescuing the princess and defeating Ganon, you’ll need the Triforce of Wisdom for yourself. But Ganon was tricky, for he broke the Triforce up into eight pieces and scattered them throughout the land into heavily guarded dungeons. Our hero, Link, has to gather these pieces and assemble the Triforce to ultimately slay Ganon and save Zelda.

GRAPHICS: 6/10

Sure, the Legend of Zelda (referred to as LoZ from now on) is a classic game, but let’s not get too blinded here. The colors are not good. Not good at all. Some of the choices are questionable at best, godawful at worst. I understand the NES’s limitations, but when you consider that other first generation NES titles like Metroid have superior coloration, there is just no excuse for the poor ones in LoZ. Fortunately, the graphical pictures themselves are great. The bosses look nice and are much bigger than Link. Even some of the regular enemies like Darknuts and Wizzrobes have the best graphics in the game. And the outside structures like boulders, trees, and gravestones don’t look bad either. If the coloration were better, this score would be too.

SOUND / MUSIC: 9/10

You know, for a game with basically 3 songs in it, the music is surprisingly very good and doesn’t get old. This of course was the game that first introduced the now-famous “Zelda Overworld” theme that most everyone recognizes nowadays. There is also another slower and more mysterious song that plays whenever you are in the eight Triforce piece dungeons that does the job. And then to ramp things up a ton later on, you’ll hear a whole separate song for the infamous level 9. It is here where Ganon and the princess await Link for the final battle. The sound effects are also very good. I’ve played some of the re-releases of the LoZ on other systems and the sounds are too treble-ly and a bit ear-piercing, but not so on the original system. You even have the classic “Link found a secret” and “Link found / bought an item” musical ditties featured here for the first time.

CONTROL: 10/10

I never had a problem with the controls for the LoZ. This game was semi-unique in its day for having a separate subscreen. By pressing the START button, the game would pause and scroll up to a black screen where you could select a tool to use. This was vital because there is virtually no on-screen information about Link during play, aside from the hearts in the upper corner that represent life force. Also, the LoZ incorporates some nifty ideas for use of the A and B buttons. One button swings whatever sword you have, and the other uses whatever tool or item you selected in the inventory screen.

GAMEPLAY: 10/10

Contrary to what some may have you believe, the LoZ is not an RPG game at all. It’s an adventure through and through, and 98% of it is shown from the bird’s-eye view from above. The game has hundreds of secrets in it. Really. In fact, you’d almost think that EVERY screen you’re on has a secret somewhere on it as many of them do. So how do you find these secret areas? This is where the special tools come in handy. Candles can burn bushes, but only ones that have secret caves under them. Bombs can blow open rock faces and some walls to open up more areas. Ladders can bridge small rivers. The raft can be launched from a dock to get to a couple of new areas. And some secrets are accessed by even more obscure methods like blowing the recorder (flute) in certain areas or moving certain boulders if you’ve found the power bracelet first. There are even some walls you can walk right through! Without a walkthrough, the LoZ can be tough to find every secret there is!

At the start, Link does not even have a sword. By going into the first cave he sees, an old man gives him his first one. It’s brown (thank you coloration!) so I like to call it “Trusty Rusty”. It can stab in the four cardinal directions and if Link’s heart meter (life force) is completely full shoots out powerful beams that go the length of the screen. Upon further exploration of the overworld and dungeons you’ll also find or buy many other useful tools to help you out on your quest to save Zelda. Basically from the start you can pretty much attempt to go anywhere right away. It’s this open-ended non-linear gameplay that so many people such as myself like about the LoZ. And there’s a lot out there to see too. Forests, Deserts, and the infamous Death Mountain for starters.

A lot of bushes out there hide enemy moblin defectors who actually want to help you out so they give you rupees (money). Be careful though, because burn the wrong bush and you might find guys who are mad you ruined their door and take rupees from you instead. Regardless of this, you should always try to burn EVERY bush, bomb EVERYWHERE, and pretty much try EVERYTHING you can with your tools because some secrets are not very obvious or where you think they’d be.

Not long into the adventure, Link will stumble upon one of the Triforce dungeons. There are a few objectives inside each one. The most important, of course, is to obtain the piece of the Triforce at the end. Along the way, you’ll also find keys that open locked doors, a map for that particular dungeon, and a compass showing you where you are on said map. In addition, each dungeon holds at least one special treasure in it. Some, like the magic boomerang, are optional to get. Others though, like the raft, are necessary to find because it’ll be needed to continue your quest eventually. As a rule of thumb, just explore everywhere and try to get everything you can.

The enemies of LoZ are awesome too. There are so many different types that have different behaviors and attack patterns so that you won’t get bored fighting them too easily. To give you a brief rundown: there are Darknuts that are armored and can’t be hurt from a frontal attack; Wizzrobes that cast a powerful magic attack and some can even disappear and teleport; Peahats that fly around and are invincible until the get tired and have to land to rest, and so on. Boss enemies are even more ingenious and finding their weak points are sometimes riddle-esque. Try defeating the crab-like Gohma without a certain tool and you won’t! Hey, why does Dodongo dislike smoke? Find out, or you won’t advance! And while we’re on the subject of in-game riddles, the one that stumped me bad was the moblin who says “grumble, grumble” and won’t let you past him. I hope you have better luck than I did trying to figure that one out.

At the end, you must discover where Ganon’s hideout is. You can actually stumble upon it early, but without the assembled Triforce of Wisdom you won’t be able to go far from the entranceway. In here you’ll face all the toughest of the game’s enemies and even some brand new ones not seen in previous dungeons. Two of the game’s greatest treasures are also hidden in Level 9, and one is actually required for you to defeat Ganon so make sure you look everywhere! If you do manage to beat Ganon and save Zelda, you’ve only just begun. Yes, the designers have left you something far better than the lame “New Game+” that so many games out there offer as bonus material. You start over. Only this time, everything is in different places. EVERYTHING. Secrets, items, dungeons, you name it. The second quest, although not nearly as well put together as the first one IMO, is a fantastic bonus to an already great and lengthy game.

There are just so many things to do and get in the LoZ that Nintendo did what no other NES game at the time did: They incorporated a “save game” feature. Backed by a small battery, now players didn’t have to write down a lengthy password and risk copying it down incorrectly by accident. The only drawback to this is that eventually all LoZ cartridges’ batteries will die and you’ll be unable to save your progress. Fortunately, it’s not very tough to get a new battery and replace it yourself, and many websites can tell you how to do just that.

CHALLENGE: 9/10

The LoZ is not tough to get the hang of, but is tough to master. Couple that with the myriad of hidden areas and puzzles, dangerous enemies, and a much more challenging second quest, and you have yourself a handful you’ll want to play time and again regardless. Some of the enemies can dish out a lot of damage, and if you don’t find the rings that can reduce it, you can wind up dead fast. Some experienced gamers have even tried to impose whole new challenges for themselves. The most well-known is the “Swordless Quest” where you have to try and win the game without ever picking up a sword. This only can work up to the very end though, because Ganon HAS to be injured by a sword in order to completely win. Still, this challenge should’nt be attempted by any LoZ n00bs out there!

PROS:

+A huge, detailed world packed with tons of things to see and do
+Great music, even if the selections are few
+Battery save feature trounces the passwords used in most NES games
+The graphical pictures themselves look good for the most part
+Lots of different tools do lots of different things to help you out
+Enemy designs are great with different attack patterns and actions
+Boss monsters are clever and some require specific items to beat
+Triforce dungeons can be tricky, but are lots of fun to explore
+So many hidden areas even experts might miss some of them

CONS:

-The coloration used for this game is bad and some just don’t go well together
-The difficulty of some of the riddles might go over youngster’s heads
-Some bosses are indestructible unless you happen to have the one tool that
can kill them
-The NES save battery will eventually die, but it can be replaced

OVERALL: 9/10

This game is definitely one of the very best for the NES, and should be given a try by any fan of great games. Try to play it without a walkthrough and I guarantee you won’t find everything. Oh, and a tip: When faced with the decision to get a heart container or a health potion: GET THE HEART CONTAINER! Trust me on this one!

The Verdict

8.5Great

The Good: It has great gameplay and started the series off with a bang. The music is catchy and surprisingly doesn’t get old even though you listen to the same two songs the entire game until you get to the last level (the dungeon theme can get old if you get really stuck and frustrated and are trying again and again to kill those dodongos). It also has a gold cartridge XD and it stood out from the shelf. It had frustrating times that only made it even more rewarding when you finally beat them. All in all its good has out shown the bad.

The Bad: There really isn’t that much plot to pick up on if you haven’t heard about it before, you put in the cartridge, get past the menu, and your’e suddenly plopped in the middle of nowhere and they trust you have the sense to go into the cave to get the sword so you don’t die. This game can be very hard and confusing sometimes which can lead to anger which leads to hate which leads to the dark side…anyways, yeah its hard. The coloring of the objects and enemies is very bad some places. It just pops out against your eyes and is really noticeable, not all places, but where it is its bad. Some of the secrets are almost too hard to find, hidden stairways beneath bushes are in screens where there must be about 50 bushes and you can only use your torch once a screen. You have to keep going back and forth through the screens to recharge your torch and try burning down another bush to find no stairs and repeat the process again. Also there are some =things like the dodongosfrom what I think was level five where you can’t go further in the level until you kill three dodongos and the only way to do that was to make them swallow bombs. Unfortunately there were almost no bombs in the dungeon or the surrounding landscape, which forced you to leave the dungeon and travel all the way back to one of those stores to buy 4 or 5 bombs for 30 or 60 rupees. If you didn’t survive the journey any progress towards killing the dodongos you might have had would be reset so all three were still alive. You could also run out of bombs before killing all of them and have to travel back yet again, endangering yourself of dying and losing the progress you just made even further. It was like some movies, a rough cut, but nevertheless its good is better than its bad.

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