Title: The Legend of Zelda
Developer: Nintendo Research & Development 4
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: February 21, 1986
How we got the game: We have it on the NES Classic
The original Legend of Zelda video game came out a few years before I existed. Having a chance to play both the Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link were a couple of reasons why we were interested in getting the NES Classic.
Being a game for the NES, there are only a few simple buttons for a player to keep track of when controlling Link. The A button swings your sword, the B button uses whichever special item you have equipped from the menu that’s brought up with the start button, and you can move in a whole four different directions with the D-pad.
The controls can be a little wonky at times, but it’s a NES game, so that was kind of expected. A lot of times Link would swing his sword with some delay after we pushed the button which put us in some trouble on many occasions throughout the gameplay. Most of the items you have to buy through random shops you find on the main map while others you get by going through and completing the dungeons.
Your adventure involves exploring the over world map, finding secret locations and dungeons that hold monsters and pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom. Instead of the game having a linear direction, Link is plopped down in the middle of the world and released to go forth wherever he pleases.
The over world map itself doesn’t show where Link is or where anything is, even if you’ve already been there. You just need to explore, find stuff on your own, and remember where it all is. You can do the dungeons somewhat out of order though you might get stuck needing certain items to get through. Plus, the enemies are tougher later in the game. The dungeons are made up of various rooms with a ton of enemies and puzzles to get through. While it’s pretty simple, the enemies are tough and they can be tricky to get through.
It was an interesting dynamic where the controls and environment are simple enough, but there were definitely times where we found ourselves dying over and over again to the same bosses or other enemies. While I love a good story-based game, I definitely enjoyed the openness of this Legend of Zelda. It reminds me a bit of how Breath of the Wild is an open world, allowing you go explore the story however you want.
The graphics are nothing to be blown away by these days, but it was definitely charming to see the first appearance of Link and the world of Hyrule as their original pixel-selves. The color palette was enough to be able to distinguish the characters from the environment and it was simple enough to tell what was going on, even if there were a couple of glitches here and there. Nothing to make the game break, of course.
Yes, we did have a couple of glitches throughout the game, but some of them were in our favor, which was kind of nice. The pixels are great and looking at some of the enemies are hilarious because they look nothing like what they would today. Also, watching Link shimmy on the raft is wonderful.
The music is fantastic, being the classic tunes that we know and love from all the other Legend of Zelda games we’ve enjoyed playing. It was a treat to hear where the tunes came from, especially the overworld music.
The music and the sound effects are satisfying. I have the soundtrack in my car so hearing the music and actually playing the game at the same time was great. It was a nice throwback to a game I’ve heard so much about but have never played.
There’s no true introduction to a story in this game. You take control of Link, you find an old man in a cave who tells you to take a sword because the world is dangerous, and off you go. Objectively, you are collecting pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom from the dungeons scattered about the world, presumably in order to rescue Princess Zelda.
Again, since it’s not really explained at all, Link is exploring the world, ultimately preparing himself to battle Ganondorf and save the world. The story is there it’s just not as flushed out as we know and love it today. Which, is kind of cool in a way. I wonder how we would have felt about it if we had no knowledge of the series when the game first came out?
The Legend of Zelda is an oldie but a goodie. While there’s only so many secrets to uncover, it’s a game with a simple enough premise that allows you to play through it many times without getting bored. It’s a classic.
I’m happy we finally got a chance to play this game. It wasn’t easy (even though it’s older and I was expecting it to be) but it’s one I’ll definitely play again.
The Legend of Zelda gets…
4 out of 5 lives.