Game Review: The Legend of Zelda

Geek Specs:
Title: The Legend of Zelda
Platform: NES
Genre: Adventure/RPG
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: n/a

Introduction: Any loyal Nintendo fan out there has probably played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. It was an excellent game. One of the best platformer' ever. It would never have been, though, if not for the orginal game that preceded it. In an age of gaming when a typical title consisted of one mission; roll the marbles to the bottom of the level, or hop to the top of a platform while a monkey throws barrels at you, The Legend of Zelda put together an adventure with a plot and broke the mold, so to speak, of how video games were viewed. If you have yet to play this game, you simply must because it is one of the most influential and clever games of all time.

Review: As soon as you jam the cartridge into your NES, you should realize your playing a true classic. The Legend of Zelda is one of the few NES games with a makeshift plot. Don't expect it to be a breeze. This game had me glued to my screen for weeks the first time I played it more than a decade ago. After inputting your name, your adventure begins. You start off in an odd looking environment with control over Link, an adventurous young boy. The first objective is to acquire a weapon for protection in the dangerous land of Hyrule. The first of the three weapons to find is the wooden sword. It is weak but effective for the time being. Link also has a small shield that can block fireballs, arrows, and almost anything else you will encounter. This game is played from an aerial view with each new section loading upon crossing the top, left, right, or bottom of the screen. Immediately after moving to the next section you will be attacked by 'mythical' creatures. The most common in the game are small, round, spiny creatures that fire rocks at you with their mouths. They can also bump into you so be careful and use your shield. The red ones take a single hit and the blue ones will take two. Be weary of you health which is illustrated with hearts at the top of your screen. You only have three hearts to begin with, but you can get up to twenty throughout the game by defeating 'dungeon' levels and finding stray heart containers.

The game is contained in one large world. It spans a graveyard, sea (with some river crossings), mountains, and a forest of mazes. Bushes are practically everywhere - try burning some with a candle to find hidden passages. There are eight dungeons spread throughout the land. In each one, you are to explore rooms for keys to continue on through the sometimes pitch black dark areas. As in any good adventure game there are plenty of foes around every corner. Ranging from skeletons, griffons, bats, and ghosts to dragons and triceretops-looking creatures. Some rooms have hidden staircases which are unlocked by moving blocks around or destroying everything in the vacinity. You can also acquire secondary weapons in the dungeons like a boomerang, raft (for crossing rivers), ladder, etc. That is in addition to the other secondary weapons which can be bought in cave stores. The ultimate goal in each level is to find the boss (usually a dragon), defeat it, and receive a Tripod. There are eight triangular Tripods which form into one big Triforce in the end. In addition to gathering the Tripods you must also rescue Princess Zelda from the wrath of Ganon. Little is known about Ganon except that he is a big, pink pig-like being.

You really have to be crafty in this game to discover its secrets. A few of the dungeons are well hidden and some weapons, merchants, and other pick-ups are carefully masked as well. In the dungeons, for instance, your map might tell you that the boss is in the next room. From your position, however, it seems there is no way to get to the creature because there isn't a passage in the room. This is possibly where a bomb to blow a hole in the wall is needed. A bit of espionage (like C-4 in Metal Gear Solid;). The music is my favorite aspect of the game. A delightful melody plays through out your journey encouraging you to move on and picking-up your head after disaster. The dungeon themes are perhaps the best, though, because they are haunting rythyms which are in sharp contrast to the usual theme heard in the rest of the land.

Conclusion: I can see no one spending less than five hours on this game the first time through. That is accounting for all of the secondary weapons, armor, and other goodies to find in the game. It is rather captivating which is odd for an older game. Even now when I play it, I become mesmorized by the gameplay and I will play the entire through game without interruption. This is a must-have title for the NES. If you did not have the chance to play it in youth, then you have really missed out. It lead the way for greater RPG/Adventures like Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana, and even Chrono Trigger.


Ratings: (scale of 0.0 - 5.0)

Gameplay: 4.0 Graphics: 3.0
Very well done. Everything loads quickly, like screens transfers, and the controls couldn't be more simple. The visuals are clean and colorful but are not the best the console can produce. The animation is smooth, however, and the framerate is flawless.

Sound: 4.5 Overall: 4.0
I consider this game as bearing the best soundtrack of any NES title. There are only a few melodies, but they all reflect the spirit of adventure which is really what the game is all about. The Legend of Zelda is a really cool game and should be experienced before playing the immensely better Link To the Past for the SNES. Thank Nintendo for the many hours you spent on this game.

Written by Magus

 

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