The Legend of Zelda launched on the Nintendo Entertainment System on February 21, 1986. Here it is 30 years later, and the game is still going strong with 17 titles in the main series and many other games in the same universe.
We here at NintendoFuse are huge fans of Zelda, so to celebrate its 30 year anniversary, we decided to reflect a bit on our favorite games, how the series has impacted our gaming lives, and where we would like to see the games go from here.
First up is Barry, who got on the Zelda train through a friend. Here is his story:
I didn’t have an NES until I was in the sixth grade. Before then, I was only able to play games over at friends’ houses. This led to many times going over there just to play NES, even at the expense of ignoring friends. It was during these times that I discovered The Legend of Zelda. I wasn’t as knowledgeable back then so I often assumed The Adventure of Link was the first one, because at the time, I felt it to be the lesser of the two and figured they improved upon the game with the second release. Boy, was I confused when I found out the opposite was true.
To me, my favorite title would have to be Link’s Awakening (and by proxy, Link’s Awakening DX). I fell in love with Zelda from playing the first two at friends’ houses and the same applied when I saw A Link to the Past. It wasn’t until Link’s Awakening, however, that I finally owned a Zelda title. It was truly amazing to not only have my own Zelda adventure, but to be able to take it on the go. The Game Boy was the first system I actually got on my own (by trading baseball cards), so I cherished that system. There was something truly magical about exploring Koholint Island and the somber tale of having to eliminate everyone in order to wake up that struck a chord with me. It also had some of the most unique and puzzling dungeons in the series in my opinion which help it remain as timeless today as it did back then.
The Zelda series has been very inspirational in my life and has helped me escape the harshness that reality brings. From the day I finally got an NES with the first two Zelda’s and would lay on my living room rug drawing out maps on graph paper until the day I gathered with friends to tackle Triforce Heroes‘ Den of Trials, each and every installment has brought a new joy into my life making it my favorite escape. Going forward, I can only see the series growing on a larger scale and I eagerly await what new adventure Wii U’s Zelda will bring! Here’s to another 30 years!
Greg’s history with Nintendo and Zelda started at the same time. Here he is to share where it all began:
The Legend of Zelda is one of the first games I played on the NES. I still have fond memories of some of the adventures I’ve had. For example, I remember my first time through the game where I had my brother and cousin sitting next to me helping explain how to beat certain enemies and helping navigate the huge overworld map. They also helped me find some of the hidden rupee rooms. I still remember taking down Ganon after I had used the red medicine, had all heart containers, and obtained the blue ring. A few years later, my cousin would show me where the red ring was hidden. I have replayed this game dozens of times, because I love the open world feeling. In college, I remember my unsuccessful attempt to get to Ganon without a sword. While I knew what to do, I could not get to the wand in level six. Following the tracks on the NES, I remember getting Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for my birthday. My brother and I played through it, and we found it was really difficult. Each of us did manage to beat it, though, and we continue to replay it to this day.
While my favorite is the original, the most meaningful game to me is Ocarina of Time. It was the leap to 3D that made the game so fun to explore. There’s nothing better than riding Epona through Hyrule field and seeing the sun rise and set. Since my original play-through , I have played so it many times and know it forward and back. Each time, I am reminded of all the fun memories I’ve had while all the nostalgia comes rushing back.
I know the series will continue to do well over the years, despite each new title taking many years to develop. I am very excited for the Wii U edition as it seems it will finally return to the roots of the series — the completely open world. I prefer that over having a fixated path of going through dungeons in order. I also look forward to seeing Link battle Ganon yet again. I really hope to see future titles further follow the groundwork that seems to be coming in the Wii U title, which looks to get The Legend of Zelda back its roots.
Caleb started the series a bit later, but that has not stopped his love for the games. This is what he has to say:
My first Zelda game was A Link to the Past, more specifically the Gameboy Advance port packaged with Four Swords. I actually didn’t know anything about Zelda at the time, but I had a new GBA SP with no games, and the screenshot on the back of the system’s packaging looked cool. I found the game brutally difficult back then, at the age of 12, and didn’t beat it for about three years. Looking back, while the game does have its challenges, it really isn’t as hard as I used to find it. For me, this is the game that set the mood and tone of Zelda and introduced me to the world of Hyrule.
A couple of years later, when my friend got his GameCube, it came with the Zelda bonus disc that contained Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I didn’t have a Nintendo 64 until after my GameCube, so I actually had my first 3D Zelda experiences on this disc. I didn’t like Majora’s Mask until I was older, but I must’ve spent at least a few months worth of time in Ocarina of Time, sometimes doing nothing but exploring the overworld and experimenting, which is what I think Zelda is really about at its heart. The story and characters are, of course, iconic and of epic proportions, but without incentive to explore, it just doesn’t feel like a Zelda game. That’s where the newest 3D entry, Skyward Sword, fell short for me. I’m really excited about the more “open world” approach Nintendo seems to be taking to Zelda U.
Finally, I (Steve) would like to take a moment to share my experience, which also starts back on the NES:
I honestly don’t remember when I got The Legend of Zelda or why I got it. It may have been a gift, or it could have been something I bought with my own money. Either way, those first two Zelda games were two of the most-played games on my NES. I remember hearing that if you put Zelda in as your name, something cool happened in the original, so that’s what I did. I didn’t know until years later that I had always been playing the more difficult version!
Another game I spent a great deal of time with was Ocarina of Time, as it was truly magnificent. It was one of the first times, if not the first, I had pre-ordered. I remember calling my friend and sitting on the phone for hours as we both played it on our individual systems. The day I got the strategy guide changed everything! He then became my best friend, since I had the answers of how to beat all the puzzles. Going back now, they aren’t nearly as difficult as we originally thought. But at the time, they were really challenging, and we loved figuring them out together.
My favorite game is actually a newer one — A Link Between Worlds. I think they did a great job of merging the old mechanics with new ones. I had a ton of fun playing through this game, as you can see in my review. I hope, like others, that the series continues to go in this direction — capturing what was so great about the original games, but also making it feel fresh and new. This gets extremely difficult after a game has had a 30 year stretch, but I have confidence in the Zelda team. They have done a great job so far, and I think they will continue to do so going forward.
So, what are your Zelda memories? Please share them in the comment section!!
Steve is the Senior Editor of NintendoFuse and co-host of the NintendoFuse Podcast. He’s been a Nintendo gamer since age 6 and has been on staff with NintendoFuse since 2008.