Fond Memories Of A Truly Magical Game.
There was never a game quite like the original "Legend of Zelda" for it's time. From the anime-style illustrations that highlighted the instruction manual, to the haunting version of the "Zelda" theme that graced the title screen, the excitement for this game built before the player ever pressed "Start".
The gameplay was so unique. A (then) huge and sprawling world filled with hidden caves and temples, oceans to cross, graveyards to explore, deserts, mountains, forests.... This game was extremely diverse in the terrain Link could cover. There were secrets everywhere, a smart item management system, and just as many different types of enemies to fight.
The music for this game remains one of my favorite all-time soundtracks. The Overworld and Underworld themes are about as good as it gets in the old-school memory department. The graphics for its time were very impressive, and in many respects hold up now. It's a different experience from being a kid when this was the latest technology, but it retains a simplistic charm now.
And who could ever forget the "cool" factor of the gold cartridge, or the Second Quest?
In light of today's games, it doesn't quite feel as "epic" as it once did. But this is also an 18/19-year old game now. That said, the gameplay remains remarkably solid.
There were also nothing worse than the shield-eating Like Likes, or the heart-draining Darknuts. Some called it "challenge". I called it "frustrating". There was nothing worse than having to buy a new Magic Shield.... Or having to pay a fine for blowing up some Old Man's door.
If the criticisms seem lame.... Well, there's not a lot of negative to be said about this game, really.
The Bottom Line
This particular entry in the "Legend of Zelda" series remains of my favorite games of all-time. Anyone who needs a lesson of Miyamoto's brilliance in game design should look no further than here. It's a beautiful title that has so many things going for it even now. And while more "charming" than "epic" these days, it still provides solid challenge, and an interesting connected world to explore. No game was like this for it's time, and only Sega's original Phantasy Star contended as a truly worthy rival.
If you've never played it, do yourself a favor, and find the Gamecube or Game Boy Advance versions. Without this game, the standard never would have been raised so high for action/adventure games.
In my opinion, the original "Legend of Zelda" stands as one of the most important and prolific titles in video gaming history. One romp through the lands of Hyrule, and you'll see why.