Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: The Legend of Zelda

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bill-swift - March 19, 2014

The legend began here, gentlemen. This is a seminal event in nerdly gaming history. Hold on to your butts, change your pants into those fancy ones Ma bought you and lock grandma in the closet (for her own safety, of course), because this is freaking Zelda 1 coming at you right here.

The Legend of Zelda
was unleashed on the Famicom in 1986. This far back through the sands of time, some misguided souls thought that our lil' green pixie hero was named ‘Zelda.' Today, this phenomenon is exclusive to elderly relatives, who are excused their dumbassery. Anywho, this is the first of many tales of shiny magical triangles, elvish princesses and angry warrior-dudes with shit ginger beards.

As is the case with many ancient games, the manual is key to knowing just what in holy hell is going on. There were no fancy-ass cutscenes or anything here, to gently caress our eyeballs with their FMV sexiness. So good old fashioned book-readin' it is. According to said manual, then, the kingdom of Hyrule is in dire straits. An army under Ganon's command has invaded the land and stolen the Triforce of Power. This constitutes one third of the legendary, triangular whole, along with the Triforces of Courage and Wisdom.

None of which are anything you want angry ginger villains running around with.

To keep another piece from his nefarious clutches, Princess Zelda splits the Triforce of Wisdom into eight segments, and hides them in underground death pits of death around the kingdom. So where does Link come in? The poor bastard has to descend into each dungeon, collect them all and so acquire the power necessary to defeat Ganon.

A tall order, all told. Still, it sets the scene for an overworld-cruising adventure of befuddling proportions. In these distant days, video games didn't hold your hand, or shake it for you when you went for a pee. There would be no rudimentary 'tutorial' levels or any of that newfangled easiness. You'd be thrown into the deep end, and left to fathom where to go and what to do once you get there for your damn self.

Which is rather unfortunate. There are tales of hapless souls who didn't enter that tiny cave on the first screen. They didn't know it was dangerous to go alone. They didn't take this. What they did was shuffle about the fields of Hyrule uselessly, wondering why these blurry mutant things were trying to eat their face off. That thing that emerges from the river and fires bits of crap at you from a safe distance? He's an ass, he is.

So yes, very scant guidance to be had here. It's like the original Metroid in this respect; younger players venturing in for the first time are unlikely to progress very far without the aid of the Internet. But that's just how it was.

When you do know what you're doing, though, it's all very familiar. All those Zelda tropes were here from the start: the dungeons, the keys to find and skeletons to beat down therein, the bosses and their magical health-elongating properties... All of these elements were further refined through the years, and the dungeons became fancier and more intricate, but their roots here couldn't be clearer.

Source of images: gamefaqs.

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