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 299 ratings with 16 reviews)

A GOLDEN Classic

The Good
The Legend of Zelda is most noted for its incredible setting in a world known as Hyrule. There are so many secrets and paths to find, including numerous items and dungeons to complete. The difficulty is a double edged sword, what I like about it is the fact that it's tough enough to give you a true challenge. The controls are very simple, The sound effects and music are pretty much classic.

The Bad
Going back to the difficulty, what I hated about it (when I first played it especially), is that the game didn't give you a direct hint about where any of the hidden heart containers, doors and rupees were...stuff like this would slay beginners to the Zelda series. I highly suggest watching a playthrough of it online before even attempting to beat it yourself.

The Bottom Line
The Legend of Zelda is an overhead view, action/adventure super-saga, pitting you, Link (Or whatever you decide to name your hero!), against Ganon, Lord of Darkness. The objective, go to all eight dungeons and gather the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, then battle Ganon himself for the Triforce of Power and Princess Zelda. Gathering secret rupees and heart containers, along with sword and shield upgrades will aid you in your battle. This may be a difficult game, but the road to the Triforce is worth it...but when you win...are you going to go for the Second Quest?....

NES · by Crazy Horse (10) · 2011

A necessary NES gaming experience.

The Good
My personal favorite feature in this game was the music. The Overworld (main) theme was great, and the dungeon theme and the one for Ganon's castle were some of Kondo's (Koji Kondo) finest, and first, at that! This game set up a foundation for one of the best game series in all time. It was also the first game that I ever saw where one could be eaten by peanut butter sandwiches. (like-like's) This game featured some Japanese-to-English translation errors that are simply hilarious. An example: in the intro, it goes through all of the items in the game. A certain group of the items has a short text about who they belonged to before. If I remember right it says: "ITEMS THAT ONCE GANON". (please forgive the all caps, that's the way they did it on the NES...) Also, "LET'S PLAY MONEY-MAKING GAME". Truly classic. The Hidden content is also very well done, and the second quest option is quite a cool addition.

The Bad
Difficulty. This is a hard game, and that is one thing that I think Most NES games can testify to. It definitely takes mastery. Also the graphics were somewhat lacking in terms of colors, although it does add some perhaps unintentional humor when certain things have to turn Red or Blue when you get a new tunic. (sigh) such is the nature of the 16-color palette.

The Bottom Line
Go to theZelda Classic homepage now! Oh, it's also a very good game, an enjoyable game. Experience true nostalgia today! (with the above link) or, go to <a href=""

this lot on ebay.

NES · by J. David Taylor (27) · 2003

A pioneer in the industry

The Good
I find it pretty great how balance this game is compared to others that were released around this time. When you play games from other companies, I find it a little frustrating at how clumsy the balance of those games are. Games like Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden, while still good games, felt unbalanced at how difficult it is to stay alive. On the other hand, I feel like Zelda makes you feel more in control of that factor.

This is accomplished through the exploration aspect of the game. Unlike other games before it, where if you couldn't finish a level you just had to try and try again until you finally got it right. But in Zelda, if you can't finish a level you can go back to the overworld and possibly find a way to extend your life, or buy a better shield in order to return to the level and try again, but this time some factor of that level has changed which makes the game less frustrating to play though.

As I can't be totally sure of this since I haven't played every single game from around that time period, but all the games I played before that were based on "make it through the level" and your difficulty factors were either a time limit, killing a certain number of enemies, or finding keys. (which admittedly Zelda also does but the inclusion of Zelda's item system makes it more interesting.)

I will agree with some other negative reviews of this game that the graphics were very simple even for it's time, but I feel like this was done on purpose. The same reason that there wasn't a town with villagers that you could talk to. The fields were a solid bland color, all the dungeons are basically monochromatic, even the dungeon BGM is very repetitive. I get the feeling that these were mechanisms used to create the feeling of loneliness. Sure, there are some people in the game that sell you items, give you money, tell you a hint, or gamble with you, but the text is so sparse and robotic (again possibly on purpose) that it accurately conveys this sense of loneliness never felt in game worlds before.

The Bad
Some rooms in the later dungeons seem to only rely on throwing more baddies in there as a difficulty factor as opposed to finding a smarter way to create challenge. I also hate the way that they re-use bosses from earlier dungeons and just throw them into the later dungeons. Seems like they just wanted to get the game out so they started to recycle old content to push it out quicker.

The Bottom Line
Zelda is a game about accomplishment. Much like the early Metroid games, it's fun to play through and find an inaccessible area, find an item meant to reach that area, and then it clicks in your head. You really feel a sense of accomplishment when this happens because even though it is a video game and was definitely a pre-determined scenario (by the game designer), you feel much more like you found this item and thought up a really cool use for it as opposed to using it for more firepower or more life. That is really what made this game unique and why it was a pioneer for the industry.

NES · by Calpis (27) · 2008

[ View all 16 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 (3509) 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 June 4, 2024.