Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Retro Video Game Addict reviews: The Legend of Zelda for the NES!

     Alright boys and girls, it's finally time for me to sit down and do a review of the king of the hill when it comes to adventure games on the NES. That's right, this is my official review of The Legend of Zelda!
     I think everyone agrees that The Legend of Zelda is one of the best games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and one of the best video games ever created. It's one of those timeless masterpieces that people still get the urge to play some 25 years later and it's definitely a game that remained popular throughout the life of the NES. See, many games come out for modern gaming consoles and are lost to time and forgotten about less than 6 months later because the modern gamer has become so fickle that they can't figure out what it is they want to play. A new game comes out and then interest in whatever they were enjoying previously comes to an abrupt end and the game is cast aside and never touched again, if not traded away (I hate that). These kinds of things didn't happen much during the NES day's and the popularity of the original Zelda lasted well into the early 90's, some 4-6 years after the title hit stateside. That's a remarkable feat, especially since Sega had two gaming machines on the market, Nintendo had it's Gameboy, and Turbo Grafix had their TG-16 console readily available.
     What The Legend of Zelda did upon release was refine a genre that heavily needed it. But the game didn't have an easy time upon it's release, oh no, Nintendo of America almost canned it because they believe that it may be too hard of a game for an American audience. That's right, The Legend of Zelda almost never came out in the United States! What Nintendo of America did was hold sessions with study groups and allowed players to spend time with the game, after the sessions were over the powers that be asked the members of the groups what they thought of the game. It was almost unanimous that the players didn't like The Legend of Zelda with multiple people claiming the game was “shit”. Well, regardless of the study sessions the game eventually saw release and went on to become one of the NES' top selling (and top rated) titles.
The premise of the game was fairly simple: A hero dungeon crawled his way through multiple labyrinths in
hopes of finding pieces of a legendary triforce in order to save the kingdom of Hyrule. And the gameplay mimicked the story. Link, our timeless hero, scoured 9 different dungeons as he collected helpful items and pieces of the triforce before meeting an enemy named Ganon in a final epic encounter. The land of Hyrule was littered with surprises and easter eggs that left the gamer planting bombs to uncover hidden caves, lighting trees on fire to find hidden temples, and using the gadgets they've found along the way to find secret hearts and other fun prizes. There was truly nothing like this game at the time and the player was rewarded handsomely if they uncovered these special secrets, which were literally all over the map. For the completion mongers out there it can be quite a daunting task trying to discover and uncover all of the secrets that Zelda has to offer, but it can be fun and I've spoken with many who have attained this feat.
     The game itself isn't overly hard at first with the first 2 or 3 dungeons being easily beatable if you're a seasoned gamer, but once you hit the 4th dungeon and beyond the game gets difficult. You find yourself inside of rooms with statues shooting fire at you while you try to kill 6 or 7 enemies floating around the room, it can get pretty infuriating trying to deal with the amount of stuff the game throws at you at one time. Also, if you haven't played the game since you originally owned it or if you're tackling Zelda for the first time, you'll notice that many tips they give you are very cryptic and it's almost impossible to navigate and find every dungeon without some kind of help from a guide. This is classic Nintendo and something I've come to expect from many games in the NES library and it often makes me wonder how I figured all this stuff out when I was younger. Back then if you didn't subscribe to the Nintendo Power magazine or have a slew of friends who were playing the same games as you than finding things was heavily trial and error based before the days of the internet.
     While I've played The Legend of Zelda back in it's heyday, I was more of a Zelda II: The Adventures of Link fan and owned that game instead of the original. I would rent Zelda from time to time and I always got to play it at friends houses and whatnot, but I wouldn't go on to fully own the game until 1995 when I bought
it along with a refurbished NES from FUNCOLAND one day in what I believe was March. Sadly, I had sold all my NES stuff to a flea market a couple of years before hand and was starting out from scratch again with the NES and decided to get some games that I've either never owned or have never even played. I used Game Genie and spent hours bombing my way through the game and eventually beat it, which gave me an inner feeling of joy and happiness that I couldn't even begin to explain. I beat the game again the following year after a friend of mine and I created a mini “game room” out of my bedroom, We decided to play the game and take turns as we progressed. We had a blast trading off the controller on certain dungeons until we met up with Ganon, in which I personally had the pleasure of taking him down. Fond memories, indeed. I beat the game for a third time again in 2005 and then again just recently, which the most recent time being probably the most difficult since I didn't use Game Genie right away and waited until late in the game to do so. But no matter how many times I revisit The Legend of Zelda I always enjoy my time with it and am forever amazed at how fun it is to play.
     Despite the game being a classic I do have a few gripes with it. First off, the music. Yeah, I know, the games soundtrack is considered to be one of the best in video game history, and believe me it is, but sometimes the dungeon theme can get a bit repetitive and after an extended play the overworld theme can drone on a bit too. I love both themes quite a bit, so don't get me wrong, but the overworld theme starts to wear on you when it restarts over and over after bouncing in and out of hidden caves and the such. But even with that said, I can't deny that Zelda has some of the best and most recognizable music in video game history.
     My second complaint would be the sheer difficulty later on in the game. Whether it's hidden rooms that an only be accessed by sheer luck or sections of a dungeons that have way too much going on at one time, this game is no joke as you progress and should be played cautiously. But challenge can be fun and if you choose to go in without the help of Game Genie than be warned that it's not going to be a cake walk, but most reading this know that by now anyhow. But despite it's difficulty it's a blast to play and the fun outshines the
hardship and the game is an absolute joy to play thanks to it's wonderful control, fun soundtrack, interesting enemies, familiar world, and intense hurdles.
     I'm sure about 90% of those reading this blog have already played this game and if you're a game collector than you no doubt own it, but for those who have not had the chance to play this timeless classic I urge you do go give it a try. There is lot's to be said about retro gaming and this game is one of the reasons the hobby is as big as it is, so what do you have to lose? You've got so many different options to play it too whether it be owning the original cart, playing it on the Nintendo Virtual Console, or by playing it on an emulator, but either which rout you choose you'll no doubt leave the kingdom of Hyrule with a smile on your face. That I can guarantee.

Graphics/Visuals – 8.0
Sound/Music – 9.25
Control/Handling – 9.0
Fun/Enjoyment – 9.25

© 2013 Bill Mulligan


  1. I commented before on this posts I just didn't do it the right way you know trough phones is ass lol any ways well I have to say zelda is one of my favorite games of all time I have on the wii as NES ROM DL, RVGA! here is simply logical and awesome pointing all the facts and also making me play this game again and discover all secrets,,,,wow what i refresh!!

  2. No one can ignore that this game set the template for not only every Zelda game that followed, but also every action RPG that followed. Its crazy to imagine teh video game landscape had Zelda not become a thing!

    As Dan Houser says : Anyone who makes games who says they’ve not borrowed something from Mario or Zelda is lying