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The Legend of Zelda - Review Of A Grand Classic
By Douglas Shepard (Editor in Chief, RarityGuide.com)
Published on 12/20/2009
The Legend of Zelda is a game that paved the way for the modern RPG genre of video gaming. This looks at one of the greatest games known.

Title: Legend Of Zelda
System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Publisher: Nintendo
Circa: 1986

Legend of Zelda Titlescreen

Perhaps the earliest Action RPG on the NES, this game introduced a generation of Gamers to the land of Hyrule, Link, Zelda, Ganon and the Triforce. For many, this was a game they fell in love with for a wide number of reasons. Perhaps it was the style of play, or the music or the puzzles. This game launched the Zelda franchise into the hearts and minds of Gamers everywhere. This game was also unique in that for a while, it was released in a cold-colored cartridge. Only much later was the game released in the then-standard grey cartridge. The game also featured a battery-backed save feature, letting you save your progress and resume with the same equipment and money (though not the same location) at a later point.

Ganon has invaded Hyrule and secured the Triforce of Power. Zelda, seeing her imminent capture breaks the Triforce of Wisdom into eight fragments and scatters them about Hyrule. Link gets drawn into the fight for Hyrule when he rescues Impa, Zelda's caretaker from some of Ganon's minions. She tells the youth of Zelda's plight and Link says he will help. He then departs to search the lands of Hyrule to find the pieces of the Triforce and take on Ganon in Death Mountain.

This game offered a bit of everything in it. While very simple, owing to the technical limitations of the time, this RPG had Link freely wandering the lands of Hyrule. There was no truly set order the dungeons had to be completed in, save Death Mountain was always last. Throughout the game Link will encounter people who will help him with cryptic clues, hinting at how he might progress in the game. For such an early game, it contains very strong exploration elements and the maps included with the game (or now found in greater detail online) became an essential part of any player's arsenal. It also let players mark the locations of the various Fairy Springs they could visit to refill their health. This game has a great number of secret locations for players to find health upgrades or healing potions.

Link begins the game with little more than a small shield, capable of blocking some ranged attacks. If he enters the cave that is directly above him, he gets his first sword. After that, he can find and buy various items from merchants found throughout Hyrule. He eventually can upgrade his shield, get arrows (which cost him 1 rupee per shot), carry a stock of bombs. This includes collecting even more powerful swords, once he is strong enough to use them, meaning he has a certain number of hearts. There were also items that became essential from other dungeons. For Example: the whistle let you teleport from one location to another and was key to accessing a particular dungeon hidden under a Pond. The Ladder proves itself incredibly useful in navigating a fair number of dungeons and the Raft gives you access to particular areas you would not be able to reach otherwise.

The game itself boasts three save files. If the player enters the name "Zelda" for their character, they immediately unlock the "Second Quest". This handles very similar to the First Quest, just the layouts of dungeons and the locations of items have been changed. The enemies are also notably tougher than before.
Legend of Zelda Gameplay

This game has remarkably simple controls. Even without the manual, the player will be able to figure out how to do many of the commands. Select pauses the game, start brings up your item select menu, the D-pad is used for movement and what is set to "A" and "B" is displayed on the top of the screen.

The graphics in the Legend of Zelda were on par with many of the games on the market at the time.

Sound Effects & Music
The game offers only a few music tracks and a small number of sound effects. Still, what music is there strangely does not get annoying (though Death Mountain's track does grate on me after the first hour). The sound effects largely do not annoy either. Listening to the "breathing"/"calling" of the monsters at the end of the dungeon only helps to locate it and let you know just how close you are to finishing the level.

This game, is harder to say. While Zelda is a very well known franchise, this is a much older entry. Still, as revolutionary game as it is it would be at least a little known in the modern age.

Summary/Author's Take
It is hard wrap up just this game because of the length of time I have been playing it. Zelda only just edges out Mario and Samus in terms of play time. Even though my own Legend of Zelda NES cartridge can no longer save, I still play it now and again just because of how fun and challenging the game is. Even though I can get it on my GBA or on my Wii, I keep around my NES cartridge with its serious problem. If anyone wants to see something that changed so much for gamers, get this game. If you are from the 8-bit era and have yet to play this game, which is very possible, I highly recommend doing so.

Story: 95%            Simple, but well done.
Gameplay: 100%        This game set my bar.
Multiplayer: n/a        None.
Controls: 97%            Simple and elegant.
Graphics: 90%            Basic, yes, yet offering so very much.
SFX & Music: 94%        What little is there is exceptional.
Obscurity: 40%            That old game?
Overall: 99%            The birth of a series.

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