In one of the darkest times in the Kingdom of Hyrule, a young, pointy-eared boy named Link takes on an epic quest to restore the fragmented Triforce of Wisdom and save the Princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil, power-hungry Ganon.The Legend of Zelda
marks the first title of the Zelda series. Players must make their way through the various forests, graveyards, plains, and deserts of the Overworld to find the secret entrances of the eight dungeons in an attempt to piece together the broken Triforce. Once all pieces are joined, Link will be able to gain entry to Death Mountain, home of Ganon, and prison of Princess Zelda.
The game is drawn in a top-down perspective. Link begins his quest in the Overworld, which features forests, mountains and lakes and is divided into several screens. Link can explore the Overworld freely, though when he enters a screen, he will encounter several enemies. He can attack them with his sword. If Link is at full health, he can toss his sword to attack enemies from afar, but when he is hurt, even slightly, he can only fight in melee range.
Link's health is represented by hearts; initially he can have a maximum of three hearts, but as he progresses in the game, he will find heart containers that increase his maximum health. The enemies are varied - some attack from up close, some shoot projectiles. When killed, they often leave behind an item - a heart to restore energy, rupees that function as money (and can be used to buy stuff in various shops in the Overworld), or bombs which can be picked up and set down to attack enemies or destroy some walls. Some items function as weapons or armor, while others are used to solve puzzles. When enemies are killed, they stay dead and will not re-appear once the screen is entered again.
To find the Triforce pieces, Link must explore dungeons. Once he finds an entrance to the dungeon and goes in, he must explore the rooms, fight enemies and collect keys until he finds the boss monster he must defeat. He will then be able to pick up a Triforce piece and gain a permanent health increase. Once he does so, however, all the monsters in the Overworld come back to life.
If Link dies on his quest, he can continue it; he will go back to his start position in the Overworld (or the entrance to a dungeon), but with the items he managed to collect so far. When Link finishes his quest, the player can choose to play the "second quest", which is essentially a harder version of the game. The Legend of Zelda
is known for several factors that were advanced at the time: a continuous world that could be freely explored, power-ups that would permanently enhance the main character's abilities, and a battery back-up save feature that allowed players to retain their progress instead of having to start over. The gameplay balanced out frequent action sequences with discovery, secrets, and exploration.
- "ゼルダの伝説１" -- Famicom Cartridge title
- "Zelda no Densetsu" -- Japanese title
- "TLOZ" -- Abbreviation
- "젤다의 전설" -- Korean spelling
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The Press Says
The Legend of Zelda
was popular enough to have a TV cartoon based on it in the late 1980s-early 1990s. It was part of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show
, and aired only on Fridays during its original run in the US.
The Legend of Zelda
was the first NES cartridge was released with a shiny gold colored plating, breaking away from the usual gray color.
The Legend of Zelda
was popular enough to have a breakfast cereal based on the game called the "Nintendo Cereal System" and was co-packaged with Super Mario Bros. cereal. The sweetened corn bits were in the shape of Link, Link's shield, boomerang, key, and a heart.
- Link was named as such because of Shigeru Miyamoto's desire to "link" the player and the character together.
- Zelda was named as such when Miyamoto learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife was named Zelda. Feeling that the name was appropriate, the princess was named Zelda.
Famicom Disk System
In Japan, The Legend of Zelda
was the first original game released for the Famicom Disk System add-on, being the only launch title not previously released on cartridge. The Japanese cartridge version was not released until 1994, and was the very last first-party Famicom release. As there had been three sequels produced in the meantime, the cartridge version was titled The Legend of Zelda 1
In the United States, The Legend of Zelda
was the first NES cartridge to include a battery-backed save feature.
The instruction manual says that Pols Voice -- an enemy in the game that looked like a ghost with large rabbit ears -- "hates loud noises", although the flute item has no effect on it. This text actually refers to a microphone which was built into the Famicom's controller, but was not included in the NES; blowing or shouting into the microphone killed these creatures.
As of 2004, Legend of Zelda
has sold eight million units.
A modified version of the game, complete with updated graphics, a smaller overworld, and completely different dungeons was released in 1995 for the Satellaview, the Super Famicom's (Japanese Super Nintendo) Japanese-only satellite-based add-on.
Called BS Zelda
(the 'BS' standing for Broadcast Satellaview), several sources from Japan allude to this as being intended as a "third quest", much like the second quest accessed via the secret code.
When the game was 'rebroadcast' in 1996, Nintendo changed the map layout again. This revision apparently had a smaller broadcast audience than before, and is known only as "~map2~". This second map could again be thought of as a "fourth quest". Additionally, Link was replaced by the Satellaview mascots: A boy who wore a backwards baseball cap, and a girl who had red hair.
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- Electronic Gaming Monthly
- February 2006 (Issue #200) - #5 on the "Greatest Games of Their Time" list
- Game Informer
- August 2001 (Issue #100) - #1 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
- October 2004 (Issue #138) - One of the "Top 25 Most Influential Games of All Time"
- 2001 – #10 Top Game of All Time