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The Legend of Zelda

Year released: 1987
Company: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure

One thing that gives a game the title of classic is that it can transcend its technical shortcomings to still become a highly enjoyable game. In such situations, it often takes people a little while to warm up to the game, but in the end they find out just what kind of quality the game presents to them. Upon my childhood, I shied away from Zelda simply because it didn't look all that pretty. When my friend gave me his copy for my birthday (He loaned it to me and then moved away), I eventually found out what I was missing.

For instance, the depth of this game is unparalleled by any other title short of an RPG. There were a total of 128 screens in Hyrule, and that's not counting the dungeons. It was possible to reach any screen from any other screen in a few minutes, adding to the game's speed. The dungeons themselves sprawled out beyond any other game of the time, with enemies and treasures at every turn. Then, you add in a second quest for those able to complete the first, with a similar layout for the overworld but completely new (and more difficult) dungeons below, and you wind up with a game that can be played over and over again and never get tiring.

The game certainly is challenging, but unlike many other games the challenge comes from skill and not just the amount of enemies stalking the mainland. Besides, the game is pretty long, so by the time you do get to the levels that are difficult, chances are you'll have enough ability to hold your own in those areas. The Legend of Zelda is one of those games in which the strategies you learn here will hone your skills in other games. Not just for later installments of the series, either - Zelda taught puzzle-solving skills for such things as the location of the water dungeon, bombing every wall in a dungeon room and so on. Not many titles can boast about that feature.

Over the years, Link has managed to become one of the most recognizable figures in the gaming community. Nobody short of Mario could be more familiar to a gamer than the teenager in the green clothes, sporting blonde hair and (who can forget) pointy ears. Although the plot here is somewhat pedestrian - save the damsel in distress - the elements added into the storyline help create a little more intrigue. For instance, the Triforce - for once a princess in peril is actually putting the kingdom in jeopardy, not just creating an inconvenience. The tremendous amount of backstory adds into the equation as well - There's more to this game than just the hero, the bad guy and the girl.

The only real problems come into play when you're actually looking and listening to the game. The graphics are pretty nauseating - the enitre kingdom is a putrid yellow color, and much of the scenery is either dark green or brown. Link himself and the enemies look OK for the age of the game, but overall it doesn't look all that pretty. There's also some problems with the layout of the dungeons. All of the rooms are the size of the screen. With all the walls and enemies crawling around in the later dungeons, it can be tough to get around. I still get claustrophobic in those Darknut rooms. The music choices are decent, however. The overworld theme is just as classic as the music to SMB, and the two dungeon pieces are pretty spooky. The sound effects are pretty cheesy, though.

Play Control isn't much of a factor in a game of this genre. Since you don't do any jumping, hit detection is less of an issue. The organization of the controls are satisfactory as well. The only real irk is that you can't walk or attack diagonally. This could have been a real help against some of the enemies who do have those extra directions to travel. Link moves pretty well, however. his response is good, and his sword has a nice, long range.

In the end, Zelda is a classic simply because it does something that few other games can do: provide challenging yet exciting fun for hours on end and years after purchase. Anyone who doesn't have this game in their collection is not a true NES fan.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 11
Thrill: (Frustrating)
Aesthetic Score: 21
Overall Score: 76%

You are now listening to the Opening Music to The Legend of Zelda.