The Legend of Zelda (NES) Review

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Review by The Every Gamer (November 2019)

Score: B (3/5)

    I’ve been wanting to play the first Zelda game for a while and I did, but just got around 50% of the game. About a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about this game. Could I do it? Yes…with the help of some maps, the only way to do it. The Legend of Zelda series is epic, one of the most beloved series in gaming history. The adventures are awesome, the lore is great, the timeline is a complete mess, it’s such an interesting series and I might as well review the first game now.

   The Legend of Zelda (Zeruda no Densetsu), subtitled The Hyrule Fantasy, was developed and published by Nintendo, and released in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System before getting an NES release in 1987 for America and Europe. It eventually got a normal Famicom release in Japan in 1994 of all years. The game was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka who launched a series that is much beloved by everyone.

Let the memes commence!

    Set in the land of Hyrule, Ganon, the Prince of Darkness, is invading the land (Satan was away for a while, so Ganon was probably the temporary Prince of Darkness). He also stole the Triforce of Power, which is a part of a magical artefact that has great strength. Princess Zelda of Hyrule decides to split her Triforce of Wisdom to prevent Ganon from easily getting it himself. And then she’s kidnapped and her nursemaid Impa is tasked into finding a hero to sort out the chaos. She manages to find Link… After he saves her and decides he’s the chosen one that will save the kingdom.

    So this game has elements of action, adventure, and role-playing all wrapped into one. Now keep in mind it did well in the US even though RPGs weren’t too popular at the time, though it doesn’t exactly feel like an RPG too much so I guess it got away with it. The game is set in a birds-eye-view, giving you more immersive adventure for the time. You play as Link as you explore the land, fighting enemies, and collecting heart pieces to increase your health. You go to dungeons, fight more enemies, find more items to help you progress, beat the easy bosses in said dungeon, and collect 8 pieces of the Triforce before going to Death Mountain and defeat Ganon and rescue Princess Zelda.

    Oh, and this game is also known as SECRETS: THE GAME. Legend of Zelda is riddled with many secrets, but whilst Castlevania II was cryptic enough, you’ll have no idea where to go or what to truly do. To get through the game, YOU WILL NEED A MAP. I used one and it’s the sole reason why I was able to progress all the way through. When I tried to play it for the first time a year ago without a map, I ended up getting lost. I just wandered about the place until I died.

    The objective of the game is to go find dungeons and collect pieces of the Triforce, which you need to defeat Ganon and rescue the princess, each dungeon has puzzles to solve and a boss to defeat. Some dungeons are quite simple to beat, while others are a little secretive, but as long as you have the right items you can beat the dungeons easily and collect the Triforce.

     But they can be hard anyway, especially when it comes to the enemies: Darknuts, Bubbles, and Wizzrobes can go do one. Darknuts have to be defeated from behind, but their movements are random, bubbles are sparkly balls that go all over the place in 4 directions, and Wizzrobes, shoot their magic at you with the blue ones being the absolute worst as they quickly move about. It gets harder when some of these enemies, especially when the ones I’ve mentioned are combined in one room.

    The graphics and level design are great and near enough memorable and I can see something timeless about it, though some gamers of a new generation will immediately be put off by everything it has to offer. The soundtrack may be lacking, but what we got, especially the Overworld music, is so wonderful in terms of the NES, a true classic that has been remixed by the fans and even Nintendo has done some stuff with it, especially using it in nearly all the games in the series.

    Overall, it’s a great game…but you need a map, but it’s not like Castlevania II where you need a whole walkthrough to figure out how to even move, let alone where to go, you just need a map of the Overworld to find the dungeons and you can simply figure out what to do in the dungeons yourself. Despite this, it’s still a classic, it’s still an adventurous game where you’re the young boy venturing out into the world full of monsters and other strange creatures; but without a map, it can turn many a younger gamer off. It may be dated by today’s standards, but it’s the game that spawned a lot of the best of what the series has to offer and it’s a classic…though still dated.

    Funny how despite being an RPG-type game, it still managed to do well, probably because you were actually doing something. It also has a great inspiration, based on Miyamoto’s childhood, going to the forest and exploring everything it has to offer, getting lost and figuring out where to go and what to do. It’s a shame though that many children don’t have that sense of freedom and were stuck playing a game based on Miyamoto’s freedom as a child. Thanks Nintendo for the sweet, sweet irony!

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