25 Years of The Legend of Zelda
Written by: Daniel Salazar
Princess Zelda sure gets in a lot of trouble
Today, February 21st, 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the saga that continues entertaining both young and old, The Legend Of Zelda. No doubt one of Nintendo’s most important franchises along with Super Mario Bros, Nintendo has taken advantage of every entry in the series to show off each console’s capabilities, often resulting in the most fun, entertaining and dare I say iconic experiences we’ve had on their systems.
To celebrate, this year Nintendo will release Skyward Sword, the long awaited Wii title said to make the most of the heavily marketed Wii MotionPlus technology, which increases the Wiimote sensibility resulting in more precise motion control. The controller add-on adds a depth that rivals both Microsoft’s and Sony’s latest Motion peripherals.
Shigeru Miyamoto — creator of the Zelda series– has declared that the main influence for the franchise dates back to his childhood , exploring his neighborhood surroundings, making him feel like he was on his own little adventure. The first title in the series The Legend of Zelda released for the Famicon/NES in 1986 continues to be to this day one of the most influential — and often culturally referenced — video game titles ever made. Even in last year’s feature film Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, the movie included many references to the game and even borrowed some of its soundtrack. It’s been reported that to get permission from Nintendo, Edgar Wright the director of the film described one of the songs (likely the fairy theme) as a lullaby for this generation — I have little doubt that any gamer would disagree with him.
After 25-years, it’s only fitting that we take a quick look through some of Link’s most emblematic adventures through the years. Check out the list below the break!…
(We’re going to have to skip a few like those awful CDI games. You’ve done so much good Link, we’ll let those slip!).
The Legend Of Zelda (Famicom/ NES 1986)
‘’Grumble Grumble’’, we meet our hero Link for the very first time. The over the top camera and quest system used in the game influenced many different titles released for the consoles, but not one of them could quite pull it off as well as Miyamoto’s baby. We still hear many of the sound effects used in this game revamped some way or another for the franchise up to this day.
Legend Of Zelda 2 – The Adventure of Link – (Famicom/NES 1987)
Who can forget the infamous line ‘’I am error’’? In this game Nintendo opted for a side scrolling view that has never seemed to quite work for the franchise (CDI), still this game continues to be a fond memory of many. The game would later return to its roots for the SNES/Super Famicom release.
A Link To The Past (Super Nintendo/Super Famicom 1991)
One of Link’s biggest and most epic adventures, the game used the original formula and took it far beyond everyone’s expectations. This is some impeccable game design people! It also determined many of the game play elements that continue to be used on the series(Lightworld/Darkworld anybody?). This was the first Zelda game I ever fully played through and remains one of my favorite games ever.
Link’s Awakening (Game Boy 1993)
The first Zelda entry in Nintendo’s portable library, it shares many elements from the Super Nintendo game, which were perfectly adapted and balanced to make what is a really fun portable experience. The same system would be used much later for the Game Boy Color (still playable on regular Game Boy) entries Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons in 2001, which could be linked once you finished one of them using a password to make a much longer adventure.
Ocarina Of Time (Nintendo 64 1997)
This has got to be the favorite of many, many Zelda fans, noted by critics as one of the very best of the series. It certainly was one of the most successful and acclaimed entries in the saga, marking the first incursion of Zelda into 3D graphics, changing the game play to adapt for the new generation of consoles. Once again the title was used to make display of what Nintendo 64 was capable of doing, leaving many wanting more — ultimately that wish came true with the follow-up Majora’s Mask, released later in the system’s lifespan. Ocarina Of Time will be revamped for the release of Nintendo’s latest handheld the 3DS, with improved graphics, better camera and well… 3D capability — this is the future people! I’m sure this will also become a favorite for many young gamers who are new to the Zelda experience.
Wind Waker (Game Cube2001)
Here, Nintendo opted for a cell shaded animated look, to make it ‘’more child friendly.” That decision seemed to anger many longtime fans initially, but still this game remains true to its roots and is still a very fun entry. Gamers eventually grew to love the new style, as the animation style would be used for a few of Link’s Nintendo DS adventures.
Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks (NDS 2007/2009)
Many were doubtful when they found out that the game play for Zelda would be tweaked to adapt for a stylus touch based experience, including me, but I have to admit this is as solid as a Zelda game gets. No big surprise here since Nintendo wouldn’t just release a title in the franchise out there without making sure all elements are up to Zelda standards. After the incredible boat-hevy game Phantom Hourglass, a sequel was released two years after using the exact same game play style — only with less boat and more trains. Both entries sold astronomically well, and earned critically praise.
Twilight Princess (GameCube and Nintendo Wii 2006)
And so we’ve come to what was the last installment in the series for a home console before Skyward Sword. Originally thought as a GameCube title, the game play was adapted and some improvements were changed for its release on the Nintendo Wii. This has been no doubt the biggest Zelda adventure ever released — it even said so in the game box! With over 50 hours of game play, it also introduced new characters like Midna, and new elements like Link’s ability to turn into a wolf.
The Future: Skyward Sword +
Given the fact that Twilight Princess was originally meant to be a GameCube title means Skyward Sword will be the first truly Wii crafted Zelda title — unless it gets bumped to Wii 2! — which really makes it that much more appealing. I’m sure Nintendo will deliver as they always have when it comes to the franchise.
So what’s in store for Link in the next 25 years? At the incredibly fast speed technology develops these days, who knows what kind of experiences are in store for us…
All I have to say is: Dear Nintendo, I’ll be looking forward.
PS: 25 years… That’s been a lot of games, what is YOUR favorite Zelda title so far?
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