The Legend of Zelda

Release Date

Nintendo Entertainment Sys.
US : August 22, 1987
Japan : February 21, 1986
Europe : November 15, 1987

Virtual Console
US : November 19, 2006
Japan : December 2, 2006
Europe : December 8, 2006
Australia : December 7, 2006


Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Nintendo
Director : Shigeru Miyamoto


Genre : Action, Adventure
Platform : Nintendo Entertainment System
Other Platforms : Wii (Virtual Console), Game Boy Advance, GameCube (Collectors Edition), 3DS (Virtual Console)
Game Type : 1 megabit cartridge
Mode : Single Player
Memory : 22 blocks (Wii)
Other : Internal battery for saves
Wii Points : 500 Points


ESRB : E (Everyone)
PEGI : 7+

In 1987, owners of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) were introduced to the exploits of a young boy named Link for the first time. In the mythical world of Hyrule, Link is tasked to recover the eight missing pieces of the legendary Triforce and rescue the Princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil Ganon.

The first Zelda title was revolutionary in a number of ways. Among them,it was the first adventure/RPG to feature an open, nonlinear environment. Although the dungeons had to be conquered in a predefined order, the game allowed the player to break away from a set path and freely explore the world of Hyrule. It also was the first Nintendo title to feature a built-in lithium battery that saved ingame process for up to 3 quests at a time, allowing players to continue from where they’d left off without using a password. Finally, and most exciting for those who discovered it by chance, The Legend of Zelda was the first video game to contain a hidden, different second quest players could access by starting the game after entering “ZELDA” as the player name.

The game was released originally in 1987. In the many years since then, the game has sold millions of copies, has seen several different re-releases from Nintendo, and is still easy to find floating around eBay.

Most console and PC games are usually measured by several different categories. In general, these include graphics and details, sound, game play and control, and story line. The Legend of Zelda succeeds in all of these rankings.

It is impossible to compare graphics and power of the NES to that of today's consoles, but when compared to other games on the NES, The Legend of Zelda is a success. The game added a number of features that previous games were unable to create. First of all, it was the first game to include a ‘save’ feature—-up until that point, the only way to save your game was with the use of a password. This new feature added replay value that had never been seen before on the NES. And another design procedure that pressed the system to its limits was the boulders that randomly fell from Death Mountain.

Again, compared to today’s games, The Legend of Zelda’s soundtrack isn’t all that impressive. It’s just midi music with a few different instruments. However, the famous Zelda overworld theme has set the stage for dozens of songs in the seven future games and will always remind people of that first game.

The next two categories are the only ones that can be truly compared to games of today. The control of The Legend of Zelda is extremely easy to get used to. The controller for the NES is simple: all buttons are easily accessible and marked and the corresponding button is marked just as well in the game. Up at the top of the screen it has two boxes indicating what item you have selected for what button, making sure you always know what you have ready. And to switch, all you have to do is press start and select a different item with the arrow keys—taking just seconds.

But this next category is one that sets it even above games of today—the general game play. The idea is simple, but the minds behind the game really knew how to take this thought and really succeed. Link basically travels around the land, ‘Hyrule,’ entering dungeons, conquering them for the ‘Triforce’ pieces, then facing the final boss to reclaim what was taken.

In future Zelda games, townsfolk and characters roaming the countryside aid the hero in finding the next level or whatever he’s asked to do next. But in this original game, he’s pretty much on his own—the biggest hint he’s ever given is probably fifteen words long. This makes for a truly difficult game to complete—unlike games of today where everything is laid out in a specific order. It makes you feel like you’re in Link’s shoes: lost, alone, and with no idea of what to do next. With such a game experience, you’ll be kept up for hours upon end, unable to put The Legend of Zelda down.

The story line of the game is fairly basic. An evil creature lusts for world domination, so captures the princess and steals the land’s ‘life force’. You, as the hero, must find an opposing ‘life force’ and use it to defeat this evil creature to save the princess. As stated above, fairly basic. However, this simplicity creates a set-up for possibly dozens of games: the five that are currently on the market, several that are under development, those created by fans, and any that will be released in the future for a Nintendo system. And don’t forget the hundreds of fan fictions that are dispersed throughout the Internet.

All in all, anyone choosing to play The Legend of Zelda will receive an experience like no other game. It will keep one glued to the screen with its easy control and mysteriously simple but interesting game play and leave a lasting impression with the plain but inspiring story-line. The Legend of Zelda puts today’s games to shame, making them look like a flashy painting compared to a timeless card game. The painting will catch your eye, but the game of cards will draw you in.

Can Link really destroy Ganon and save the Princess Zelda? Only your skill can answer that question. Good luck. Use the Triforce wisely.