SummaryAn excellent top-down RPG that received some special treatment
The GoodWhether or not I play certain RPGs depends on what type it is. I'll pass if it is one of those dungeon crawler where you customize your characters before you begin. But if it is an RPG-FPS hybrid or a top-down RPG where you get to explore a huge world, I'll give it a go. One of these top-down RPGs is The Legend of Zelda, released by Nintendo in the mid-Eighties.
Ganon, the Prince of Darkness, invades the peaceful kingdom of Hyrule and steals the Triforce of Power, a part of an artifact that bestows great strength. Before she was kidnapped, Princess Zelda splits the Triforce of Wisdom, another piece, and splits it into eight fragments and hides each one in secret dungeons throughout the land. In addition, she commands Impa, her nursemaid, to search for someone brave enough to save the kingdom. In this case, it was a young Robin Hood-type figure named Link.
Hyrule consists mainly of forests, graveyards, canyons, and the like. I enjoyed exploring every inch of the land, discovering many secret caves on the way. What I like about Zelda is that the game is challenging. Each screen is filled with enemies that usually drop rubies when you kill them, and these rubies can be used to upgrade your weaponry or to purchase new weapons.
The dungeons are laid out nicely, like something that you can identify since you were a child. These dungeon contain loads of secrets, more often than not containing items that you need to defeat the bosses. Each room is filled with enemies not found on the surface. The enemies are well animated, and most of them have to be killed a certain way, and this includes the bosses.
There is only one piece of music you hear as you explore Hyrule, and it is brilliantly composed. It is one of those melodies that you can't get out of your head. Most of the sound are quite basic, but a few, like the throwing of Link's sword, sounds excellent. Also, letting the player know when a boss is nearby - with them hearing a "roar" sound - is a stroke of genius.
The controls are easy to get used to, and the interface is also easy too. I like how it appears, shifting the action down the screen until it disappears. All your special attacks appear as icons and laid out nicely next to each other. You don't need to press a button on the gamepad to get it into the special attack box. As soon as you move the cursor over it, it is automatically selected, ready to use.
The first Zelda game includes a huge map that goes beyond an A4 sheet, and this sort of thing is unheard of for games around its time. As well as giving players bonus items for purchasing the game, I think this method is used to stop the distribution of pirate carts, because without the map, players are likely to get lost and go around in a huge circle trying to find each dungeon. Furthermore, due to the size of the map, it is virtually impossible to photocopy it without great difficulty.
One of the other things I like about Zelda is that it can be replayed over and over again, and it is a game that you won't get tired of playing. In one game, you can rush through it while getting all the required items to accomplish your task, and in the next one you can discover any secrets that you missed in the last game. Even if that isn't enough for you, you can tackle "The Second Quest", which makes the game a lot easier.
Unlike most NES games that I played so far, Zelda uses a save game feature, which allows players to save their progress rather than start over. This feature is advanced for its time. Another advanced feature is the use of power-ups that enhance the player's abilities. Playing Zelda for their first time, I purchased every item that I needed to complete my quest, from every store that I came across.
The BadSome bosses are re-used in some dungeons, and most of the time you have to defeat these duplicates before leaving the dungeons. Also regarding the dungeons, to get through them, you are forced to discover secrets that lie within it.
The Bottom LineThe Legend of Zelda received special treatment over others as not only did it include a huge map, but it came with a gold cartridge. The game has everything that I like - exploration, fantasy, combat, and replayability. Most of Zelda is either spent exploring every inch of Hyrule, going in caves and buying stuff or upgrading weapons, or entering a series of dungeons and stealing one of the Triforce pieces back. The game gets more difficult as you progress, and the music and sound effects are nice to listen to. I am looking forward to playing the next Zelda game, whatever it is called.