Legend of Zelda, The
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  • Nintendo
  • Nintendo
  • Adventure - Maze/Puzzle/Explore (example - Zelda,Tomb Raider)
  • July 1987
  • 1
  • Battery
  • 3
  • $20.00
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10  |  The Legend of Zelda: A Game That Lives Up to Its Name
Scoots , 2/26/2003 10:59:10 AM
I don’t even know where to begin with this review…I find it simply incomprehensible that anyone visiting this site hasn’t played The Legend of Zelda. Yes, this is the game that started it all—sequels over several subsequent platforms, breakfast cereals, sleeping bags, you name it. Along with the Mario and Metroid franchises, Zelda is the cornerstone of Nintendo. Unlike other legendary or historically important games, Zelda delivers where it counts: addictive gameplay, a huge variety of enemies, constant surprises to be found, and some of the finest music ever to grace that beloved little gray box. Though it has aspects in common with other NES RPGs like Final Fantasy and Ultima, it is actually closer to its earlier anscestors: Atari’s Adventure, Odyssey^2’s Quest for the Rings and Intellivision’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

The Game
As Link you must search throughout Hyrule for the eight scattered pieces of the Triforce before finally facing off with the evil Ganon. There’s a piece of the Triforce hidden in each of eight underground dungeons, along with other special items, such as a raft, a ladder, and a boomerang. Many of these items are necessary to complete your quest, others can be safely ignored. Knowing what item to use against a certain boss can mean the difference between a speedy victory and frustrating defeat. There are also shops scattered throughout Hyrule selling an assortment of useful items; doing a bit of comparison shopping will get you a deal if you look hard enough…130 rupees for a magic shield? I don’t think so…

Zelda takes a somewhat unique approach to character advancement. You don’t have stats like “strength” and “dexterity.” Instead, important functions like attack power, defense, and hit points are determined by items you find throughout the game—swords, rings, heart containers, etc. Call it RPG-LiteTM . The upside of this is you don’t spend hours repetitively killing low-level enemies just to get enough experience to level up. Don’t expect anything in the way of story progression during the game either. Though you will encounter a few NPCs along the way, they do little more than offer you hints or the opportunity to win some money. Hyrule has a very strange economy, made up entirely of general stores, casinos, and random old hags selling potions from their hidden caves.

How It Compares to Other RPGs
As I said in the introduction, Zelda has more in common with the earlier RPGs than with its contemporaries on the NES. It is almost exactly like AD&D for the Intellivision—you traverse a map of the countryside, enter into dungeons along the way where you find objects and weapons necessary to complete your quest, finally facing off against two “boss” enemies (the winged dragons) which you must defeat in order to regain the two halves of a magic crown. This is the exact formula that Zelda follows, only it is expanded to include elements such as money, secret doors, a greater variety of weapons and equipment, and a final showdown with the ultimate boss. This game is probably the perfect introduction for someone unfamiliar with more traditional RPGs; it includes many of the genre’s most enjoyable elements, while avoiding an emphasis on mechanics and repetition. One of the great things about Zelda is that you infrequently feel truly lost. You will often see instances where you need a certain item you don’t yet possess. These serve as a great incentive for you to keep playing until, for example, you acquire the ladder which will allow you to get the heart container off the eastern coast. Though you are free to go pretty much anywhere, Zelda is much more linear than many of its contemporaries. Some people might see this as a negative aspect of the game, but let’s be honest, there are aspects of the traditional pen-and-paper RPG that video games do well, and then there are aspects where video games do poorly. Monster bashing and treasure hunting play to the video game’s strengths, true “role-playing” doesn’t. You’re unlikely to go into one of those Mazes and Monsters-style freakouts where you actually begin to think you truly are Link.

Zelda: The Legacy
How many other games have spawned a dozen sequels? Beginning with The Adventure of Link on the NES, there has been a Zelda game on every Nintendo console except the doomed Virtual Boy, culminating with the newly released Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker on the Gamecube. As soon as you first opened the box and saw that shiny metallized gold cart, you knew you had something special in your hands. Talk to anyone who had a NES in its heyday and you will here a similar story: marathon game sessions on the weekend, waking up early for school to sneak in an extra hour of play, Link costumes for Halloween. The merchandise was everywhere. A box of “Nintendo Cereal System” was split equally between Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda. There was a Zelda cartoon and the game’s soundtrack has been remixed and covered by several different bands. Pac-Mania may have reigned in the early 80s, but Zelda-Mania is still running strong to this day.

You think I’d give this game anything but 10 out of 10? Keep dreamin’.

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