Sunday 30 December 2012

The Legend of Zelda - NES - 1987

I'm not sure what race Link is supposed to be.  An elf? A leprechaun?

Like Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that started on the NES in 1987 and is still going strong today.  Like Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda is in a series I had never played before.  My son has Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time on his Nintendo 64 but I have never really had the inclination to play them.  That had to change because of this blog and the first game in the series earns a place here.

The peaceful land of Hyrule has been invaded by Ganon and his hordes.   Ganon also stole the Triforce of Power - a golden triangle possessing mystical powers.  Fearing his rule, Princess Zelda broke up the second Triforce - the Triforce of Wisdom - into eight pieces and hid them throughout the realm.  At the same time she ordered her nursemaid, Impa, to go out into the kingdom to find someone brave enough to confront Ganon.  Ganon uncovered the plot, imprisoned Zelda and ordered his men to capture Impa.  Eventually Ganon's men caught up with Impa, but she was saved by a boy called Link.  After hearing the story from Impa, Link resolves to save Princess Zelda.  Before he has a chance to defeat Ganon, he must retrieve the fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom.  Only after piecing together the Triforce will he be powerful enough to make his way to Death Mountain and face Ganon.

The Legend of Zelda is viewed from above with most of the game taking place on the large overworld play area.  The play area is split into screens and scrolls onto the next when you reach the edge of the previous one.  Each screen is usually patrolled by several enemies.  Dotted around the landscape are a number of caves and dungeons.  In the caves you can find people such as merchants and others who will give you clues (sometimes for a price).  For example, in the cave on the first screen is an old man who gives you a sword.  

In addition to picking up the sword early on, Link starts the game with a shield that help can protect him from certain enemy attacks.  Although the sword will be your main form of attack, some enemies are immune and you will have to find their individual weaknesses.  If you are hit by a monster your life force is depleted.  This is represented by a series of hearts in the status bar.  Initially you have three hearts and each hit takes away half a heart. When destroyed some monsters drop useful items such as small hearts (which restores one life heart), fairies (which restore all your life hearts), rubies (currency), keys, weapons and sundry other objects.  Large hearts can occasionally be found which adds another heart to your life counter.  A sub screen can be called up at any time which shows your inventory and allows you to change items or secondary weapons.

To retrieve fragments of the Triforce you need to enter the dungeons.  The dungeons comprise several rooms and are home to different and more numerous monsters than the overworld.  The dungeons contain puzzles, locked doors, secret rooms as well as a boss that guards a part of the Triforce.  Each boss has it's own weakness and some can only be destroyed in a particular way by a particular weapon.

The Level-1 boss went down easily.

The eight dungeons that hold the Triforce fragments can be tackled in any order although the higher the level the harder they are.  Also, some higher level dungeons can only be completed using items found in lower level dungeons.

One of the secret rooms where the view changes from top down to side on.

In my mind The Legend of Zelda treads a very fine line between being challenging and overly difficult.  It was only by sheer luck that I worked out how to kill the Level-2 boss after fruitlessly trying every weapon I had.  That was one of the easier dungeons so I can only imagine how frustrating the later ones will be - I can envision weeks of experimenting with the various items.  The actual game play reminded me of a cross between Atic Atac and Sabre Wulf which is no bad thing.  After Final Fantasy the graphics look a little bit simplistic; on the other hand, the sound effects and especially the music are very good.  In spite of the difficulty level, The Legend of Zelda just about makes it onto my list.


  1. Great review.. It was one of the first games I played. I sometimes popup it up to play, even after all these years!!

  2. I have been looking for this game everywhere for the last year! No second hand store or flea market around here has had it. I have link to a past though, which is... less fun, but still entertaining.

  3. There is a PC version on the Internet called Zelda Classic which is free.. You can google it and check it out.. I will publish links in my blog in the next few days, but I am sure it will not be difficult for you to find. :-)
    Just saying..

  4. Oh.. By the way.. Do you mind putting a link to this page in my blog? This is such a good article!!

    1. That's fine Kenny, go ahead. Thank for the comments BTW.

  5. I am a big Zelda fan and have played and finished all of them! Have you already played to the latest "Breath of the wild"?

  6. Not yet. My newest Nintendo console is the Wii, and I didn't get much user out of that.