The Legend of Zelda

aka: A Lenda de Zelda, Adventure, Adventure Mario, TLOZ, Zelda no Densetsu
Moby ID: 3393
NES Specs
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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 - Japanese Famicom Disk spelling
  • ゼルダの伝説1 - Japanese Famicom Cartridge spelling
  • 젤다의 전설 - Korean spelling

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Credits (NES version)

7 People

Executive Producer
Sound Composer



Average score: 85% (based on 60 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 296 ratings with 15 reviews)

Fond Memories Of A Truly Magical Game.

The Good
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?

The Bad
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.

NES · by Guy Chapman (1748) · 2002

The best game on the NES

The Good
I have four reasons why I like The Legend of Zelda:

  1. The Graphics, Sound, and Music are so perfect in an Action-Adventure Game because it's such a legendary masterpiece for the NES.

  2. You play as the main Character "Link," You have to roam around the overworld map and find dungeons to collect pieces of the Tri-Forces, and rescue Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon.

  3. The controls are so prefect is that you can hit the "Start" button to bring up the item screen, hitting the "Select" button to pause the game, hitting the A button to use the sword, and hitting the B button to secondary items.

  4. Finding secret areas so that you can get items, hints, or passageways.

    The Bad
    I only have two complains about the game:

  5. The hardest about the game is to survivd the enemy that you may run into or getting hit by them.

  6. Getting your way around into the overworld map like the lost woods, using the fluke to uncover the lake, and trying to figure out what weapons are good for the boss guys.

    The Bottom Line
    I really recommend this game to everyone. It doesn't matter if it's all about puzzle-solving, or beating the game in one sitting. It just that The Legend of Zelda Series is such a good idea for adventures and Excuse Me, Princess.

NES · by Damian Armstrong (19) · 2016

The original RPG / Adventure platform hybrid.

The Good
This was one of the first games I got for the NES. Though the graphics were not particularly good, even for the time, it was designed quite well and was / is highly addictive.

It plays like a cross between an overhead scrolling platform game and an RPG. Its not truly either but borrows from both genres. Its a unique formula that has been copied by many successful games.

The Bad
The graphics on the Legend of Zelda show its 20 year old age. They are primitive, with repetitive sprites. Even compared to later NES games the graphics aren't very good.

The depth of the gameplay and the music more than make up for this.

The Bottom Line
Wondeful game. And there is a 16 bit version of it which is a hacked version of BSZelda that you can find on the internet. It lets you enjoy the game play of Zelda with well drawn graphics. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the SNES is also something you would probably like.

There are also some other games I'd recommend that are good knock-offs of Zelda: Crusader of Zenty for the Genesis, Golden Axe: Warrior for the Master System, Neutopia 1 and Neutopia 2.

Neutopia 1 and 2 are probably the best Zelda style games around next to A Link to the Past. In fact, I like them better.

NES · by Majestic Lizard (670) · 2007

[ View all 15 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Not much fun to play now, except for seeing how it was a leading game in the action/RPG combination. Andrew Fisher (697) Mar 27, 2024
Legend of Zelda tribute on MTV Daniel Saner (3503) Mar 14, 2011
Super-epic orchestral take on Zelda music J. P. Gray (115) Jun 2, 2008
RPG Controversy SharkD (425) Oct 31, 2007


1001 Video Games

The NES version of The Legend of Zelda appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


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.

Character names

  • 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 to avoid


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, The Legend of Zelda has sold eight million units.

Version differences

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.


  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #10 (Readers' Top 10 Games of All Time)
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #13 (Best 100 Games of All Time)
    • 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"
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #10 Top Game of All Time
  • The Strong National Museum of Play
    • 2016 – Introduced into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

Information also contributed by 雷堂嬢太朗 -jotaro.raido-, Big John WV, Captain Canuck, Guy Chapman, Indra was here, Maw, ModestMr.Green, Son of Kyuss and vedder


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by NetDanzr.

Nintendo 3DS added by ResidentHazard. Wii U added by Michael Cassidy. Wii, Game Boy Advance added by Guy Chapman. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. NES added by Servo.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Jeanne, Guy Chapman, chirinea, Exodia85, NH, Alaka, monkeyislandgirl, samsam12, Zaibatsu, Patrick Bregger, sgtcook, Thomas Thompson, yenruoj_tsegnol_eht (!!ihsoy), FatherJack, firefang9212, SoMuchChaotix.

Game added February 24, 2001. Last modified February 16, 2024.