(Editor’s Note: We did several of these last year with Mario. However, while we dedicated an entire month to Mario, we’re only giving Zelda a single article.)
Only one article for Zelda, perhaps one of the most iconic video game franchises ever? Look, this isn’t meant to insult Link and company. I simply don’t have as extensive a history with Zelda. Unlike Mario, which has gameplay simple enough that they made it into a mobile game, Zelda requires much more of a time commitment. I’m no longer at a point in my life when I can devote weeks of my life playing a game for hours a day.
I remember certain things vividly from childhood. While that probably isn’t abnormal, some of my formative memories are strange. For instance, I remember one Christmas trip to my maternal grandmother’s house. Well, who wouldn’t want to remember holidays with family? It’s not that. Keep reading. Overall, these trips weren’t terribly memorable. Most of them, along with similar trips to visit my father’s family, are part of that amalgam of “holiday” memories that occupy space and occasionally bubble up into my consciousness. Not this memory, though.
So, what’s so special about this Christmas trip and what does it have to do with Zelda? Stick with me just a bit more. I promise a pay off soon. This isn’t just therapy time with Noob. During this visit, I did what I often do during a big get together. I searched for a quiet place to recharge. That search led me to a room with a Nintendo (original NES) and I think a projector and pull down movie screen. I may be making up that last part. Either way, the game being played was the original Legend of Zelda.
This nerd shame stems from the fact that, unlike Mario, I never actually played the NES Zelda game. The first one that I played was the SNES classic “A Link to the Past”. That’s when my actual “lifelong” obsession with The Legend of Zelda began. The graphics are the SNES sprite based of my childhood. The story rivaled that of Final Fantasy III, one of my favorites from that system. I was hooked.
While I loved that game, it isn’t my favorite in the series. That honor goes to Ocarina of Time. I know that many people say that its sister N64 title, Majora’s Mask, is the superior title. However, I’ve never played that one. I know what you’re thinking. How can you have a comprehensive history without one of the best games? Well, first I never promised the complete history. Just my history.
Similar to the Mario title for the N64, it took everything great about the game and added a third dimension. You had to worry about depth and height when fighting against bosses. Dungeons, a multilayered affair in previous games, now gave the developer free reign and they took full advantage. Also considered one of the most frustrating levels, the water temple is one of the most unique and innovative designs ever.
By not only giving your character the ability to swim, but also making it integral to the level design, Ocarina of Time achieved full 3D motion and showcased what the big deal was about 3D gaming. I think I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating. Even though 3D is the obvious current standard in video games now, there was a time when people argued against it. One of their main arguments was that the camera angle and controls would go wonky every now and then. Unfortunately, they usually had a point with N64 games.
I’m pretty sure that I never beat that game. I can’t say for certain because it was a while ago, but that was during a time in my life when I worked a ton, so it probably never got finished. As an aside, now that I think about it, there’s not been a time in my life since I started working that I haven’t worked a bunch. Okay, not exactly relevant. Just had to get that off my chest.
The fact that I didn’t finish the game is not that big of a tragedy, either. With the power of computers now at the level to allow for reliable N64 emulation, I can play the game any time that I want. And, now, just writing about it, I actually want to play the game again. Heck, I even have my USB N64 controllers! Okay, I know what I’m doing over the next few days.
My last stop on the Zelda train was Wind Waker. No, I didn’t hate the game so much that I stopped playing them. I know that the graphics were a huge controversy at the time, but I loved them. I enjoy that Nintendo sometimes takes big risks with the title because familiarity can breed contempt. I’m also glad that they didn’t make those graphics the standard because I’m enjoying the more realistic graphics of Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild as their systems get more powerful. However for Wind Waker, the graphics fit in with the theme of the game perfectly.
Even though I never played Twilight Princess or Breath of the Wild, I’ve been keeping up with the series through those games. Being a Nintenerd, I really want the Switch, but couldn’t justify the price tag right now. However, they have announced a new 2D Street Fighter game for it. Along with Breath of the Wild, a new Mario game, and the possibility of a new Metroid game, I suppose it is only a matter of time before I end up getting one.