The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is yet another in a long line of titles that have become a cornerstone series for Nintendo.
The original NES title was unique and somewhat bizarre to the uninitiated. Upon opening the box, which had a vague looking shield on the cover, you’d find enclosed a gold painted cartridge and a big foldout map of the entire overworld within the game.
Both were unique to “Zelda” (as it has become known as). Receiving an instruction book is one thing but getting an entire map to nudge you in the right direction of your next step within the game was groundbreaking.
The gold color cartridge was also something entirely new as all Nintendo games were in a drab gray plastic case prior.
As for the game itself, it was not a platformer. Zelda took an overhead approach ditching any jump buttons. Players could move in any direction on a single-screen before moving to another single-screen. Bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, this is how the game was stitched together. (As opposed to scrolling left-to-right or up-and-down like Super Mario Bros., Metroid, and others.)
The start screen would pause the game but also offer the ability to see and change the assignment of what the A and B buttons did for the various items you would retrieve throughout the game. Those items would be necessary to unlock and/or access further areas.
The dungeons, nine of them, had puzzles and hidden area to access as well. The pause screen, if already found, would also show a dungeon map (or at least your progress if you didn’t already find the map for a specific dungeon).
The level of difficulty was as such that upgrading the hero, Link, would progressively give you the necessary tools to defeat the game. The final dungeon, Death Mountain, is far from a cakewalk yet is one of the more satisfying victories.
That’s after dumping hours of time into the game, which also had a new feature for that era which helped you walk away and continue at a later date: a battery backup. Instead of leaving your NES on as you ate dinner or went to school, you could save your progress and return back to the game at a later date.
Needless to say, if you’ve never conquered this classic, it’s a must-play. Easily one of my favorite games of all time.