NES Review: The Legend of Zelda. The classic debut of Link the boy wonder
Nintendo has a few core series it relies on . . . . Franchises that gamers around the planet flock to with each release . . . These games are considered so good that they can nary do any wrong. The characters themselves so beloved, that almost anything with that character in it will sell . . . . For Nintendo, they’re “Big Three” are Mario, Metroid . . . . And Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda is easily one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. Everyone loves Zelda, and even people who aren’t gamers know what it is and there’s a good chance that even they played the first one way back in the day.
So I thought it’d be a good idea to go back in time and take a trip down memory lane . . . To play a game that shoved Nintendo into the stratosphere for gamers everywhere, and made them Nintendo fans for life.
Hitting the scene on the regular Nintendo (NES) in 1987, over 20 years ago, the game has continued to draw in new fans each time it is ported. With the Wii‘s Virtual Console looming, and yet another Zelda release immenent (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess), it was a perfect time to cover this great game.
So sit back, relax and dive into my detailed review below. Wax nostalgic or join in the adventure for the first time. And even if you don’t care, you may still want to check out the Zelda commercials. They are classic, and contained below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
The Legend of Zelda
Also Available On: GBA (Classic NES Collection) and
GameCube (Zelda Collection). Almost assured for release on Wii’s Virtual Console.
Genre: Top-Down 2D Action Adventure (Action RPG)
Released: 1986 (Japan), 1987 (U.S. & EU)
Save: Cartridge Save (3 files), GCN takes 36 blocks
Creator: Shigeru Miyamoto
In Feb. 1986, a little gold Famicon (Japanese Nintendo Entertainment System) cartridge was released into the world. Little did it’s creator (famous Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto) know that his new game would not only go on to sell over 47 million units worldwide, but it would go on to become one of the most popular and most highly revered franchises in video game history; spawning over 8 follow-ups.
What Nintendo was able to accomplish with the original Legend of Zelda would effect the entire video game industry. Not only in design, but also in gameplay and how players would come to perceive console adventure games. Zelda set a standard from which all other games of it’s type would be judged, and set the bar for what players would come to expect from this new action RPG genre (though some people maintain that Zelda is really just an action adventure). It was an 8-bit masterpiece . . . an innovator, an epic and quite possibly one of the greatest games of all time.
Upon it’s highly marketed debut (which eventually included breakfast cereal, a classic commercial, an animated cartoon show and other merchandise), many firsts were set. Zelda was the first console game to include a battery inside the cart, which allowed you to save your progress during the game. Due to the game world itself being one of the largest ever at the time, being able to save progress was crucial given that the game couldn’t be beaten in one sitting like others before it.
(Nintendo Cereal Commercial. Mario & Zelda)
It was also the first NES game to sell over 1 million copies. Zelda was so special in fact that it shipped with a gold cartridge (which you could see via a rectangle hole in the box), easily allowing it to stand out among the crowd. Included in this pretty packaging was a map of Hyrule, a strategy guide and a hefty instruction manual that included lots of nifty artwork.
This is the storyline to the game according to the instruction manual:
A long, long time ago the world was in an age of chaos.
In the midst of this chaos, in a little kingdom in the land of Hyrule, a legend was being handed down from generation to generation, the legend of the “Triforce”; golden triangles possessing mystical powers. One day, an evil army attacked this peaceful little kingdom and stole the Triforce of Power. This army was led by Ganon, the powerful Prince of Darkness who sought to plunge the World into fear and darkness under his rule. Fearing his wicked rule, Zelda, the princess of this kingdom, split up the Triforce of Wisdom into eight fragments and hid them throughout the realm to save the last remaining Triforce from the clutches of the evil Ganon.
At the same time, she commanded her most trustworthy nursemaid, Impa, to secretly escape into the land and go find a man with enough courage to destroy the evil Ganon. Upon hearing this, Ganon grew angry, imprisoned the princess, and sent out a party in search of Impa.
Braving forests and mountains, Impa fled for her life from her pursuers. As she reached the very limit of her energy she found herself surrounded by Ganon’s evil henchmen. Cornered! What could she do? … But wait! All was not lost. A young lad appeared. He skillfully drove off Ganon’s henchmen, and saved Impa from a fate worse than death.
His name was Link. During his travels he had come across Impa and Ganon’s henchmen. Impa told Link the whole story of the princess Zelda and the evil Ganon. Burning with a sense of justice, Link resolved to save Zelda, but Ganon was a powerful opponent. He held the Triforce of Power. And so, in order to fight off Ganon, Link had to bring the scattered eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom together to rebuild the mystical triangle. If he couldn’t do this, there would be no change Link could fight his way into Death Mountain where Ganon lived.
Can Link really destroy Ganon and save Princess Zelda?
You wouldn’t know all this though if you don’t have the instruction manual though (and I will assume you do not have the instruction book or the guide, even though they can be found easily enough online), as the story told in-game (if you watch for a bit after the title screen is displayed, which is followed by a display of the story then all the items in the game) is simple and very basic, the typical “save the Princess” storyline that Nintendo is famous for. Although the story was quite involved for it’s time, going into a lot more detail in the instruction book, the storyline really doesn’t come into play at all in the game, save to give you a reason as to why you are out in the field slaying monsters and working your way through complex, labyrinthian mazes.
After naming yourself anything you want, selecting a save file and pressing Start, the game plops you into the world straight away. Your first task will be to get your hands on a weapon, which you can obtain in the first cave (or hole in the wall) you come across. From then on out you will be tasked with finding the rest of the weapons and items that are crucial to your quest, as well as the entrances to nine dungeons spread across the land.
You control Link with the D-Pad, using the A Button to attack with your sword and the B Button to use a secondary item or weapon, which you can select on the subscreen. The subscreen is important as it shows you what items you have obtained, both usable ones (inside the rectangular box) and ones that are used automatically once they are found (above the box).A map of the world is displayed in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen. Although “map” is kind of misleading, it’s really just a gray empty box. This will tell you your location in the world, which is marked by a small green square. One of the many totally old-school aspects of this game is that there is no world map. Instead what you get is the gray box, which, while it doesn’t seem like much, as you play the game more and discover more of the world, you can use it to keep note of where in the world certain places are located, which will help you in getting around and telling you the general direction you may want to go.
Also displayed at the top of the screen are how many bombs, rupees (money) and keys you are carrying. Keys will be found and used in dungeons. Rupees are required to obtain some crucial items in the game which you will buy in shops that you come across. Enemies will often times drop rupees, either a flashing rupee which counts as 1, or a solid blue rupee that counts as five. They will also drop bombs and hearts. Your health in the game is displayed in hearts at the top right of the screen. If it empties then you die.
However if it is full, you will recieve a bonus. Having full health allows Link to shoot beams out of his sword. These stretch shoot across the entire screen and damage amount is the same as if you hit them with your actual sword. A lot of your success in Zelda will come by having full life, which obviously gives you a huge advantage. You start out with three Hearts and will obtain more as you conquer dungeons and discover secrets.
(American Zelda commercial 1)
The main screen that you play on is known as the overworld (with dungeons being the “underworld”, if you will) and it is the land of Hyrule, which is made up of many screens . . . 16 screens horizontal and eight screens vertical, for a total of 128 screens, if you want to get specific. When you reach the edge of a screen, it will move over to reveal more of the world and allow you to walk in that direction. The world in itself is quite large and you are allowed to freely roam it (Yes, decades before Grand Theft Auto III).
Hyrule is made up of different environments, from beaches to forests to mountain areas, and even a graveyard (complete with ghosts). The overworld is also populated with many enemies, which you view from an overhead perspective (a view that never changes) as previously mentioned. Enemies can be destroyed or simply avoided, although some are harder to avoid than others, and the only real way to collect rupees, or the other pickups they drop as mentioned above, is by destroying them. If you die while in the overworld you will be taken to the first screen you started on.
Exploration is a huge part of Zelda, and certain weapons are crucial in aiding you in your quest, the goal of which is to find the nine dungeons and claim the Triforce pieces inside.
(American Zelda Commercial 2)
Like most adventure games, you start out very weak but gradually will grow in ability and strength as you obtain new items & weapons outside your standard sword, which is limited to attacking directly in front of you. New swords will raise your attack power, rings will raise your defense, your shield will let you block incoming attacks (which you can do by standing still) and can be upgraded to block more powerful attacks and other weapons will give you longer reach or allow you to attack in ways you couldn’t before.
There are two items that you receive early on that greatly expand your exploration abilities and allow you to discover many of the games secrets and hidden areas. Both items also double as attacking weapons. The former being Bombs. Bombs are arguably the most useful weapon in the game. Using them, you can blow holes in walls. Behind some of these walls will be residents of Hyrule (who all look the same I might add) who will perform various functions. Many will be shops where you can buy various items or weapons (as well as health potions and a few other things).
Some will lead to little mini-games where you have to randomly choose a rupee, which will either give you more than you had or take away some. Others will offer you hints, and some will even punish you, making you pay for “destroying their doorway” (which is really poor design IMO, effectively punishing you for finding secrets). And of course, bombs can also be used as weapons.
When a bomb explodes it will release a puff of smoke that will hit anything inside the blast radius (though strangely won’t hurt you), very useful for taking out groups of enemies (and some enemies can only be defeated with bombs). It’s worth noting too that Bombs cannot be picked up and thrown like in other Zelda games.
The latter item is a Blue Candle. This allows Link to release a flame which will burn roughly two “squares” in front of him. The flame can be used to burn bushes, revealing stairways beneath. It can also be used in dungeons to light up dark rooms. You must be careful when using it however as the flame not only will damage enemies but also yourself if you are careless enough to touch it. The Blue Candle can only release one flame per screen however, which can lead to much tedium when burning bushes due to the fact that many screens will contain around a dozen bushes! Requiring you to leave the screen, then enter again before you can continue on your tree-burning crusade.
There are many other weapons and items you will come across in the game. Some are crucial in your quest, others will help you out in various ways. Below is a list of many of the games items and what they do. This is not a complete list however.
Rupee: Rupees come in two flavors, flashing and Blue. Blue Rupees count as five.
Heart: A heart will be dropped from enemies and refills one full heart container on your meter.
Fairy: Sometimes killing enemies will release Fairies, these gentle creatures will completely heal Link.
Fairy Fountains: Scattered around Hyrule will be Fairy Fountains. These fountains aren’t an item, but the fairy there will completely heal you. It’s a good idea to remember the location of these fountains.
Food (or Meat): This meatball will supposedly attract certain enemies to it. Outside of that it’s also required in a certain section of the game to proceed.
Clock: Dropped at random by enemies, this unique item will freeze everything on the screen, allowing you free reign to slash with your sword, and you can even pass through obstacles that’d normally hurt you. Consider yourself lucky if you get one while in a difficult dungeon room.
Letter: Once given to any “Old Woman”, you will be allowed to buy medicine.
Potions (or Medicine): These will heal you all the way. Blue can only be used once, while Red can be used twice! Don’t go into a difficult dungeon without some!
Small Key: These open locked doors. Can be found in dungeons, and used in any of them, or bought from a shop.
Magical Key: Once this is obtained, it can open every locked door.
Bomb: Already detailed, bombs can be used to attack groups of enemies or blow holes in walls.
Blue Candle: Using this you can light dark rooms or burn bushes to discover secrets. Can also hurt enemies and you. Can only be used once per screen.
Boomerang: This great item not only freezes enemies, but it can be thrown in any direction! Finally you can attack diagonally! It can also be used to retrieve items that are out of reach. Very useful.
Arrow: Allows you to shoot arrows once you acquire the bow. Great for long distance attacks.
Recorder (or Whistle as I say): Taken from Super Mario Bros. 3, this item allows you to teleport by summoning a whirlwind. It also can be used to reveal secrets and other mysteries. A prelude to the Ocarina.
Magical Shield: This can be bought in stores. It allows your shield to block shots you couldn’t block previously.
Ladder: Allows you to cross certain small rivers and streams, both in dungeons and the overworld, that you couldn’t cross previously.
Raft: Required to sale across the water at certain points.
Power Bracelet: This item allows you to push rocks which couldn’t previously be moved out of the way. Opens up a lot of secrets and places you couldn’t explore beforehand.
Blue Ring: The Blue Ring gives you blue armor which greatly increases your defense.
Wooden Sword: Your default sword. You find this in the cave right above the starting screen. It is very weak.
White Sword: A stronger sword. You can find this onto of Death Mountain.
Magical Sword: The strongest sword in the game. Hidden well within Hyrule.
Triforce Piece: You will find one piece of the Triforce in all eight dungeons hidden around Hyrule. When put together they form the Triforce of Wisdom.
The brunt of Zelda action will take place inside the many dungeons in the game. Most of the entrances to these dungeons will have to be discovered (there are some however that are in plain view), and the way you go about this can either be obvious, or really well hidden. Both the candle and bombs will play a big part in discovering some dungeon entrances, as will a few other methods, some as simple as pushing rocks out of the way, others will require quite a bit more thinking. Here’s a hint: Don’t forget about your whistle! You will receive some hints as to where these dungeons are located via various residents of Hyrule, but in all honesty, a lot of them will really test your mind as you try and figure out exactly where a dungeon can be and what you have to do to uncover it.
While exploration is good and all, it can get very repetitive in Zelda especially since you will often-times be at a complete loss as to what you are supposed to do or where you are supposed to go. You are given no indication of where the dungeons are located, and even if you are on a screen where a dungeon entrance is (the exception being the obvious temple-style ones) you probably will not know it is there, unless you experiment!
The dungeons themselves are very well designed and some of them will definitely put all your twitch, old-school, 2D skills to the test. Your first order of business in a dungeon is to find the map, as the layout of the dungeon will be hidden from you.If you view the subscreen while in a dungeon you will be able to see which rooms you have entered. Keep this in mind. Once you have found the map, the layout of the dungeon will be revealed in upper-left hand corner of the screen. Use both maps to keep track of where you are and where you need to go.
Most of the dungeon gameplay mechanics remain the same throughout the game no matter the dungeon. You will enter a room and proceed to destroy all enemies in the room (which will reward you with a key or unlock a door) and afterward you will want to bomb walls, which will sometimes reveal a doorway, and search for any blocks that may be pushable. If you have found a key previously, then you can bet that you will need to use it on a locked door somewhere in the dungeon. Unlike other Zelda’s, keys can be used in any dungeon, not just where they were found, and can also be bought in shops.
Hidden inside every dungeon is some kind of weapon or item (and it’ll generally come into play at some point in that dungeon where you will need to use it). Some dungeons even have two items hidden inside! So make sure you do not miss one room in a dungeon. And search EVERYWHERE. All items will be hidden inside a stairway which you will first have to uncover, and they can be very well hidden.
Dungeons are full of enemies, some of them very difficult, so you will need to keep your wits about you and be prepared. It is generally a given rule that you should bring some medicine, along if possible, as a lot of dungeons won’t be conquerable on your first playthrough unless you have some major skills. Thankfully, if you die in a dungeon, you will start from the first room (though cut down to three hearts) and not at the start of the overworld.
You will also come across various bosses and mini-bosses in the dungeons. They are generally not too difficult, although some of the later ones will definitely give you a beating. Generally it’s a good idea to try different weapons out on the bosses as some are more susceptible to specific weapons or items. The boss of a dungeon will be marked with a red square on the map once you’ve found the compass.
Although the dungeons are very, very difficult and sometimes really hard to find (I had particular trouble with dungeons three and seven) they are definitely the high-point of the game and are testament to the great skill of Nintendo and developer Shigeru Miyamoto. The creativity seen in the dungeons is pretty astounding given the limited processing power of the system it was made on, and some rooms can be downright devious and definitely hellish (given how hard some rooms are). It’s not unusual to come across a room with more than six enemies.
Suffice it to say, it’s easy to understandwhy the game was so beloved as anyone who could conquer these dungeons definitely feels satisfied once they reach the end and claim the Triforce, even though you will often find yourself having to go back through a dungeon you beat if you missed something.
There is a pretty wide variety of enemies in Zelda and most of the major ones you know and loathe from later Zelda games made their debut here, including:
Wallmaster: These hands will come out of walls, naturally, and if they catch you in their grip they will return you to the beginning screen of the dungeon! Thankfully they are easily killed but they will generally keep on coming, best to avoid.
Octoroks: Creatures that appear in rivers and spit rocks at you)
Keese: These bats will fly around the screen, they are easily killed with one strike. The boomerang is a good weapon to use to wipe them out quickly.
Stalfos: Skeleton knights who will jump around and attack with their swords.
Armos: Statues that stand still but will come alive when touched, they are quite tough.
Tektites: Spider-like creatures that will hope around the screen. Generally come in groups and can be hard to get a bead on.
Bubbles: Annoying orbs that rotate the screen in dungeons, making it that much harder to fight the other enemies in the room. They can’t be attacked or destroyed.
Peahats: The “ghost of plants”, these will spin around the field and can only be destroyed when they briefly stop to land.
Leevers: Creatures that spin themselves to burrow underground. Blue ones are stronger and harder to kill than red ones.
Gibdo: These mummies are very strong but are easy to kill. Try to get them bunched in a group then time your sword slashes or freeze them with your boomerang.
Dodongo’s: The dinosaur-like creatures can only be destroyed by using bombs. Make sure you carry plenty of them with you, some rooms will have 3 dodongos requiring at least six bombs! Make sure you don’t miss!
Like Like’s: These slimy, fat, worm-like creatures will suck you in if you touch them. Stay inside them long enough without swinging your sword to destroy them and they will steal your Magic Sword.
Darknuts: These very strong and very annoying enemies hold shields so you can’t attack them from the front, and they quickly change direction. Be read to quickly attack them from the sides are back. Some rooms contain more than five of them and they come in two strengths.
Wizzrobe’s: One of the worst enemies in the game. I hate these things! They are very tough and they will hover around the screen shooting beams if you are in front of them. Avoid facing straight at them at all costs. They do tons of damage
And many more. Some of the bosses will also be recognizable to Zelda fans, such as Ghoma (who got a 3D makeover as the first boss in Ocarina of Time). A lot of enemies are very dangerous, such as the Lynel, a Centaur that hurls swords at you and can kill you in only a few hits. Hopefully you’re dodging skills are good, as you will need them, especially in dungeons. Enemies in Zelda will generally re-spawn, although in dungeons you can kill off all the enemies in a room and they usually won’t come back (breath a sigh of relief).
I don’t have a whole lot of complains about Zelda, but if there was one major one it’d have to be repetitiveness. While starting a player out with three hearts after dying is good for challenge, it is not good for the player, especially if they are restarting at a dungeon . . . since you will not have enough hearts to beat it. As a result, you are left trying to either kill enemies to regain your hearts back (collecting individual ones or hoping for the release of a Fairy) or more likely, having to leave the area to find a Fairy Fountain to refill your hearts. Generally you will want to keep medicine for bosses.
Thus you will have to make many trips back and force across the world while trying to conquer a dungeon. And God forbid you should die again (which you will), and have to repeat it all over again. Multiply this by dozens and you have what it’s like to try and beat some of the tougher dungeons. This type of old-school repetitiveness and tedium pervades other aspects of the game as well, the worst being burning shrubs. Say there are fifteen shrubs on screen, that means you have to burn each one, then exit the screen, go back, and repeat. It quickly grows tiresome. And make sure your flame doesn’t miss and that you wait for it to burn all the way before leaving . . . . or you may have to repeat the process yet another time.
The game is also made much more harder to get into since no items are ever explained (it never tells you what anything does. Good luck figuring out the Food) and hints are few and far between in the grand scheme of things.
Thankfully, the developers did anticipate the long treks across Hyrule, and eventually you will find portals which can teleport you to one of three locations on the map, and the whistle also gives you teleporting ability, although it’s hampered by the fact that you can’t actually choose where it will take you.
As an adventure game, there is no multiplayer and no other modes. There is however a second quest, which you can play from the start by entering your name as “ZELDA” or by beating the game, wherein you will play the harder version if you restart again.
The second quest is much harder than the original (and that’s saying something) and even includes a few new game mechanics, such as walking through walls (no bombing necessary) and several new or enhanced enemies, including these really frustrating orbs that roam the screen in various dungeons. If touched they will disable your sword (red ones) or bring it back (blue ones) but thankfully don’t hurt you. And good luck even finding most of the dungeons this time around, everything is mixed up! Including the order you get items and where you get them from. You can’t truly say that you’ve conquered Zelda though until you finish the second quest, and it is definitely a beast. If you can beat it without using a FAQ consider yourself TRULY hardcore!
For fans of the Zelda universe, it’s interesting to note that while several aspects of series got their start in this initial game, from the enemies to a lot of Link’s repertoire of weapons and items to the bosses to block pushing puzzles, all of which would continue to be mainstays in each and every Zelda game (getting a new update with each new Link).
(Gameplay footage including a boss)
However there are a few token aspects of Zelda that are absent in this initial game. The most obvious are the treasure chests . . . . . Modern Zelda’s are full of treasure chests that contain useful items, with the main weapons being kept in large chests to symbolize their importance. This original Zelda doesn’t contain any chests! Also absent are breakable pots, slashable grass and bushes, empty bottles to carry stuff in (although you can buy potions at shops) and even standard houses to enter. Locked Boss rooms (which generally require a Boss Key in later Zelda’s) also don’t appear in this first Zelda. And while the whistle (or Recorder) never does pop-up again in other Zelda’s, it serves as the prelude to the Ocarina, which would become a central part in the Zelda mythos later on.
But probably the greatest aspect of the Zelda mythos that is missing in this game is the Master Sword. While the game does contain a powerful Magical Sword, a specific Master Sword does not make an appearence in this Zelda. And lastly, there are only two Triforce Pieces in this Zelda, the last one, the Triforce of Courage, has not yet been revealed, so the complete Triforce symbol, three interlocked Triangles that create one big triangle, is not in this game.
So how does The Legend of Zelda hold-up in this day and age? Well, obviously it simply can’t compete on any real levels, but as a classic game, it’s gameplay holds up remarkably well. What strikes me most is the challenge. This game is HARD. I would rank it right up there with the Ninja Gaiden series and the original Metroid. Funny thing is that I was able to beat all of those, yet couldn’t conquer the second quest without a faq. And I even had to look for answers at a few sections in the original quest. So you’ve been forewarned!
(“Well excuuuuuse me, Princess” . . . Late 80’s Zelda Cartoon – Entire 1st episode)
Obviously from a graphical and sound standpoint, you are talking about a game released in 1986. It’s really as simple as can be in virtually every aspect. The sound is basically one or two tunes played throughout the entire game. You WILL get sick of that Zelda overworld theme, no matter how beloved it is. Don’t believe the “epic soundtrack” bullet-point on the back of the Zelda: Collector’s Edition box. It’s as 8-bit as they come. Having said that though, this is where all the famous Zelda tunes and ditties originated, and it’s all here in it’s simple glory, as should be expected. Graphically you get basic colors and lots of solids and color variations. Generally different colors are used to symbol a change in an enemy or boss (like a different color may mean he’s stronger) or a difference in area (green or brown mountains). Which is natural for 8-bit games. They only had so much to work with afterall.
It is surprising how hard the puzzles in the game can be to figure out. You’d think that it would be easy given the complexities of puzzles in games today, but you’d be wrong! (well, I was anyway). There are places in Zelda where you will just be absolutely stumped! And since there are very few hints, it is very likely that you won’t be able to figure out what to do. My advice is simply to remember to try every item and weapon you have. When in dungeons, make sure you check your dungeon map on the subscreen, which shows only rooms you have entered, and compare it with the dungeon map in the upper-left hand corner once you have gotten it, and make sure you have visited every room. If you think you missed something, like you need an item to get into a dungeon, then it’s very likely that you did miss something. It’s good to go back through the dungeons and check every room again. Bomb every wall and push every block. Be as thorough as you can!
In the end though, Zelda stands up to the test of time remarkably well. Like other Nintendo hits, Metroid and the Super Mario Bros. series, the gameplay that was established here is solid, still quite fun, and very challenging, just as it was back in the day. If you can get past how out-dated it looks and sounds, then you can definitely lose dozens of hours in the land of Hyrule. And if you never had played the original Zelda, then you owe it to yourself to experience this 8-bit masterpiece!
Should I Buy The Legend of Zelda for Wii?
YES! Despite all it’s hardcore old-schoolness, it’s difficulty, how outdated it is, it really doesn’t matter . . . . why? . . . . Because it’s Zelda! A lot of video game conventions started right here. From block-pushing puzzles to hidden quests to the standard “action RPG” gameplay, Zelda is a game that every gamer has to experience. It’s required!
Whether you have played Zelda or not, you have to have this game in your library, and due to it being an NES game, it will likely be cheap and one of the most popular Virtual Console downloads for the Wii. So you really have nothing to lose . . . . UNLESS, you have played the game to death, are not an old-school gamer, get frustrated really easily or you already have another version of the game (either Classic NES series on GBA or the Zelda Collection for GameCube) and you are satisfied with that. But you can’t call yourself a gamer if you have never attempted the original Zelda. And the gameplay still holds up well and remains fun despite it’s simplicity and tedium. Show Link some love!
FUN FACTOR: 7.5
What keeps Zelda fun is acquiring new weapons and items and seeing Link’s power grow. Being rewarded with something new is very cool but no matter what the game does you can’t shake the feeling of repetitiveness, especially in hard dungeons, which you will often be replaying time and time again. Re-spawning enemies doesn’t help. Even though half the game is simply swinging your sword, there is enough variety in the weapons and dungeon layouts that it holds your interest.
Simple, plain, solid colors . . . . In a word, old-school 8-bit.
Music & Sound: 7.5
It’s an originator, the ditties and tunes here are classics that can’t be denied. Hearing the same tune throughout the game can however, and you will quickly grow tired of it. Sound effects are what you’d expect.
Not really any presentation to speak of. It’s as simple as they come and the interface could easily be updated to something more suitable. It’s also unforgivable that they don’t tell you what items do when you get them, leaving the player to figure it out on his own.
Graded for it’s time, this is the game that started it all. From hidden secrets to block pushing to the second quest to dungeons and the keys you need inside, Zelda started trends that still continue to this day.
Replay Value: 8.5
As long as you don’t grow tired of the game, which you might, there is a lot of gameplay here. And due to the games difficulty, it will take you quite a while to beat. I had more than 100 deaths not even half-way through the 2nd quest! And the 2nd quest will always be there for those who want more Zelda. And did I mention the game was hard? Don’t be fooled by it’s simplicity or 8-bitness, this game will test your gaming skills to the max. But once you finish both quests, I can’t really imagine you wanting to pick it up again. But for it’s time it’s very well done and contains lots of secrets and much to uncover.