“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.” These words offered insight into the world just entered; it’s an open world for exploring, but a sword is necessary to keep the danger at bay. Released in 1985 and making the first appearance of a battery-backed cartridge released in North America, The Legend of Zelda ventured into new territory of the adventure game genre.
The Legend of Zelda allowed players to complete the underground levels in almost any order. From early in the game, every level in the game is accessible, beside 4, 7 and 9. Without a driving storyline besides the manual and screen after staying on the title screen, the game lets the world open on its own. The simple plot keeps the focus on the exploration, with nothing bottlenecking the journey besides necessary items… not non-playable characters (NPCs) blocking the paths to continue to the next level. It truly is an adventure where exploring is not only the focus, but the cryptic clues from the old men in labyrinths is all the help available in-game.
Nintendo had released a game with many secrets and developed a number of publications to assist through the journey. First, the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide released in 1987 with The Legend of Zelda marking the first in-depth game review. This game also was the part of the cause for the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter, which emerged in the winter of 1987. The newsletter featured hints for The Legend of Zelda among other games. Eventually, the newsletter became the magazine Nintendo Power, which featured an in-depth feature on the second quest of the Legend of Zelda, complete with maps for the first six labyrinths. All this was followed by The Legend of Zelda: Tips and Tactics in 1988 giving very detailed instructions to proceed through the game.
Without so much publicity, it is quite possible the game would not be able to be completed without a guide, especially the second quest. Caves and labyrinths were hidden in bomb-able walls, burnable bushes and even revealed by sliding a rock or even blowing the whistle (before the ocarina). A guide would not only be helpful in most instances, but a necessity to avoid hours of searching every inch of Hyrule. The delight of searching high and low in Hyrule could also be enjoyed, such as finding a hidden area by accidentally setting a bomb to only hear the secret revealed music.
The Legend of Zelda has many challenges to offer and even has other play options such as not grabbing the sword at the beginning by skipping to the White Sword (or Magical Sword) or beating the game without the Red Ring (or Blue Ring).
The Legend of Zelda was first released on the Famicom Disk System (Japan’s answer to extending gameplay beyond one session) and was released later in North America using SRAM saved to the internal battery, thus the reason for no release of the re-writable disks or system in the region. The conversion of other FDS games resulted in their North America release having a password system, but Nintendo may have wanted to push new technology at a lesser cost. The game has also been released on the GameCube as part of a compilation, the Game Boy Advance in the Classic NES series, the Wii Virtual Console and, most recently, the 3DS Virtual Console.
The official site for The Legend of Zelda is http://www.zelda.com/universe/game/zelda/.
- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia – Coming Early 2013 (nintendocharged.com)
- Miyamoto wanted Link to be a recognizable character (polygon.com)
- ‘Retro Studios qualified to make Zelda game’, says Miyamoto (vg247.com)
- Hollywood! Adapt This: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA (collider.com)