NES title Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is pretty ass. It introduced a couple of mechanics that didn’t sit comfortably at all with players, like experience points and the abysmally awkward side-scrolling presentation. In a series as renowned as this, hindsight reveals these to be wildly disparate elements as welcome as Freddy Krueger’s romps into your average REM cycle. However, it is fondly remembered for one thing. As is occasionally the case, a skimpily-dressed beardy dude’s appearance serves to preserve some credibility.
Link strides into another stranger’s home with carefree abandon, the cheeky bastard. Here he finds the famous fatass, who had been combing that magnificent beard or having a crap or whatever he was doing. When interrupted during these exploits, he announces with pride, “I am error.” Since witnessing this many years ago, I’ve pondered just what in the name of Satan’s ballbag this could possibly mean. Is the dude’s name actually Error? Were they going for Errol or Edgar or something, and missed slightly? Another possibility arises upon closer perusal. This enigmatic fellow doesn’t appear to be wearing any pants. We may well have burst in on this dude while he was playing with himself, and he’s trying to apologise in Link’s language. He doesn’t appear to have a masterful grasp of the intricacies of the dialect, but you can see the sincerity on his face. (At least the portion that isn’t obscured by bird’s nest beard.) Our hero seems utterly unperturbed by the man-meat being waved in his face. He knew what he was doing, the randy bugger.
Voyeurism aside, there’s also the philosophical implications of these words to consider. Am I error? Are we all error? What’s real? What isn’t? Existentialists would have a field day, or several of them, with this business. Where’s Nietzsche when you need him, with some of his baffling wisdom? ‘All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.’ Apparently. If our pantless friend doubts his own existence, there’s a whole Vivi in Final Fantasy IX thing at play here that’s light years ahead of its time. But I’m being facetious.
So what we have here is either remarkable philosophical components in an ancient NES game, or a fat guy touching himself in a shack. I guess there’s also the simple chance of a translation error. (It wouldn't be out of place in a journey of ultimate challenge, after all. The Japanese makers had been at the saké again, I expect.) All that matters is that the result was another famous entry in gaming lore, which spawned internet memes the world over. The ultimate-mega-super-ultra-geek can now buy t-shirts emblazoned with the legend. I know I’m wearing one with pride.
For more on Link's (rather appalling) adventure, take a look at this:
Article by Chris Littlechild