Over a long span of nearly 20 years, the franchise known as “The Legend of Zelda” has come in many forms featuring the adventures of a young boy named Link. Not only did it create its own legend as the definitive RPG franchise of Nintendo, but it affected the world in ushering in the age of RPG: Role Playing Game. It would have seemed that role-playing was done in every game, but in “The Legend of Zelda”, you took complete control of Link and depending on your decisions, you determined when and how Link would get through his journey. Because of “The Legend of Zelda”, RPG’s may not be as respected as they are today,
The whole legend began in July of 1986, and a peculiar game named “The Legend of Zelda” was released. People were probably confused when they booted up the game on their NES and found that you were playing from a bird’s-eye view and controlling this random little boy with a sword and a boomerang, killing off enemies of various sizes. But soon, everyone realized that the game featured a deep story of great adventure and addictiveness. People were hooked. The NES had yet another great start with this game.
While the game may have been a great success, many people wondered where Nintendo came up with a name like Zelda for the Princess. Sooner or later, it was so revealed that Miyamoto, the executive of Nintendo, needed and intriguing, but attractive name for a princess. And believe it or not, a friend of his working at Nintendo had a wife named Zelda, and so the oddity of a name was adopted for this new character. Many believe that the “Z” in the name is the root of many names in fantasy fictions and games. Examples of this would be “Zar” or “Zod.”
After its great success with the first game in 1986, Nintendo released an improved sequel called “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” in 1988. The game had introduced a new type of gameplay: one that allowed you to free-roam on a map and battle in a side-scrolling fashion. Although new and still addictive, many were disappointed in the change, and so the game was not all that popular. However, true fans to the Zelda back then up to today still play and appreciate the sequel as much as it should have been.
In the small depression of this drop, Nintendo gave some rights to the Zelda franchise to Panasonic, in order for them to try Zelda on their new and top-notch CD-I, the first gaming system to use CDs. However, I must say that Panasonic could have really killed Zelda and a great future with what they did. Almost all at the same time, Panasonic released “The faces of evil”, “The Wand of Gamelon”, and “Zelda’s Adventure”: three horrible games. The first mistake Panasonic made in making these games was allowing Link a voice. Link never talked. He only yelled. Second, Link was always hitting on Zelda, which, he was too cool for. And third, well, all the stories sucked, especially “Zelda’s Adventure.” Well, at least those three were all Panasonic dared to mess with, and Zelda was not killed.
Nintendo got the boomerang back in 1991 when they released “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” With the new invention of the Super NES, the game was allowed to look better and produce for more gameplay, which it did damn well. The game featured a great looking Link with definitive eyes, yellow hair, toned skin, and his token green clothes. All the new weapons and items impressed gamers, but the greatest of the improvements was the return of the classic gameplay. The game even surpassed its grandfather in sales, and eventually became known as one of the best games of all time.
Two years after that, in 1993, “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” was released as a sequel to “A Link to the Past.” The game was nothing revolutionary or too outstanding over its predecessor, but it was still fun and addictive like the first and third. If anything, the best addition was the new story for player’s to find themselves strolling through. Later, in 1998, the game was re-released as “Link’s Awakening DX” on the GameBoy Color, making one of its very few appearances (At the time) on the GameBoy.
During the time period of 1996-1998, Link advanced into the next dimension of gaming: The 3D world. With the release of the N64 in 1996, Nintendo had a world of opportunities waiting before them. While they may have released revolutionary Mario games, most fans were waiting for something else, the two promised Zelda games. Not long after…They got their wish. First, “The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time” was released in 1997-1998. This game was revolutionary, more than imaginable, and blew away the whole world with breath-taking environments, an intense battle system, and an array of weapons and items. In addition to all this, a great story and a great new Link were invented. By this time, no one could believe what they were seeing in this game. It was praised with numerous perfect scores, and if not, it was damn close. Everyone began to think that it could not be surpassed…But we may learn that maybe it cannot be surpassed…
To follow-up on The Ocarina of Time, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” was released not long after. The game still took on the same look and feel of The Ocarina of Time, but many fans were disappointed to find a “sliced up” game. In other words, it was ‘short. However, what many failed to realize that the game had at least 50 ways to progress through the 3-Day game-based time period given. In repeating the game, many fans found that there seemed to be endless ways of getting to the end in such a short time. So, not after long, many began to be attracted to the game in it’s short length and varying gameplay. However, the game was still no standout.
In 2001 came a matching pair of Zelda games: “The Oracle of Ages” and “The Oracle of Seasons”, both released for the GameBoy Color. If anything, these games were the revolution for Link on the portable. In each game came a definitive adventure for Link, bu”””t they were very similar in an archetypal manner, sort of. However, these games brought a cool new twist to the Zelda games, but of which was disappointing to some fans. The way it worked was that in each game, they did not include Ganon as their final bosses, but an enemy definitive by the game. This was a new thing for Zelda, but it had its pros and cons. Everyone loved how Link and Ganon would always face off at the end of each game, no mater what. Now, this was done, but there was a “catch.” To fight Ganon, you had to beat one of the games, and find someone else who had beaten the opposite game. What now? You needed a link cable to link up your GameBoy’s and when you boot up your games, a new adventure begins where you trade items to complete certain tasks. To many, this was quite an unfair feature to have, as that extra adventure totaled up to be about a whole quarter of what you played to beat your own game. Most GameBoy owners didn’t have a link cable, so most of them were unable to experience this. These two were great games, but they disappointed many fans with this feature.
In 2002, with the invention of the GBA, a remake of A Link to the Past was released, but with an added feature. Not only did you get the great original game, but you also got a new adventure called “Four Swords.” However, to play this new game, you needed to link up with a buddy/buddies in order to play it. It was a teamwork game that required you and your buddy to cooperate, so it allowed fun for everyone. However, this requirement for a linkup in this new game did not faze anyone. The game still sold extremely well for the great SNES classic that it packaged.
In December of 2002, the next Zelda game was released for the GameCube as “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” Fans were really surprised, but still impressed by this game. However, it was a little controversial. Why? Well, Link was not…normal. Players were surprised to find a tiny cell-shaded little boy who was supposedly called Link. This oddity of a thing was what you controlled your whole adventure. Fans were not drawn off, however. If anything, they were impressed. The game featured great wind/storm and night/day systems. And in doing so, the cell-shading allowed for beautiful and top-notch environments. For fans, this had you looking away from Link than at him. However, general players were drawn off by their stereotype of not liking cartoons. General gamers mostly expected an improved Link of what they got in the N64 version, but they did not want to be caught dead playing it because they were “too cool to play it.” Otherwise, however, the game had fans going more than ever.
In 2004, the Four Swords Adventure was recreated for the GameCube as “The Four Swords Adventures.” This game made it easier for those without link cables to play the game, because having two controllers for your GC allowed for a second player to join in. However, the other two needed a GBA and a GC/GBA link cable. This was an improvement, but it wasn’t the best.
In early 2005, “The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap” was released, making for a huge original adventure for the GBA. The game had better graphics and gameplay than any other GameBoy Zelda game, so fans went wild, especially the GBA owners.
While The Legend of Zelda has been around for nearly 20 years, it still runs strong, and now currently has fans awaiting the greatly anticipated release of Twilight Princess for the GC in Q4 2005, and Phantom Hourglass for the DS in Q3-Q4 2005. Will you be waiting?