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Legend of Zelda Celebrates 20 Years 213

The Legend of Zelda is one of the most beloved gaming franchises Nintendo has created. It is also celebrating two decades of life this week. 1up has a great feature on the anniversary, exploring the different games in the series with a list of 'stuff to love'. From the article: "Twenty years ago this week -- February 21, 1986 -- thousands of Japanese gamers played The Legend of Zelda for the first time, and their perspective on gaming was forever changed. Here was a huge world, a massive quest, an open-ended odyssey that demanded exploration. When we Americans first placed that golden cartridge in our Nintendo Entertainment Systems a few months later, we learned what our friends overseas had already discovered: Zelda was addictive. It was adventurous. It was ambitious. It was amazing." Four Colour Rebellion also has commentary on this auspicious occasion, with a Happy Birthday look back and some fond remembrances.
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Legend of Zelda Celebrates 20 Years

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  • Wow... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JoeLinux ( 20366 ) <joelinux@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:24PM (#14768329) Homepage
    It seems like only yesterday I got my 8 bit nintendo. One of the friends of the family who worked at Circuit City said, "You should stick to Super Mario Brothers. Zelda is just TOO hard!"

    I was sooo intimidated when I opened that golden cartridge on my birthday.

    But, I beat it in under two weeks after school. Dumb blonde was lying...

    And thus began my addiction...

    *sniff* memories....
    • It was really Ganon in disguise...
    • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Funny)

      by hotgigs ( 899872 )
      I got busted for trying to steal Legend of Zelda from a Target store when I was 13. Stupid me... my parents wouldn't buy it for me so I tried to get it free. Got busted and had to do a one day seminar thing for kids who screw up. I learned my lesson... but bought it later on... It is a classic.
  • by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:28PM (#14768371) Journal
    Wow, 20 years ago.

    Man, I feel old.

    This was one of my favorite games many years ago. Who am I kidding? It still is!

    What a BLAST it was. Always something new to find, explore, or otherwise.

    I bet I could still remember which trees to burn so I could buy cheap shields; and which ones took your money. :)

    Fun times; I guess I'm getting old. The new games just don't do it for me anymore. Too complicated.

    I still somewhat regularly plug in my Intellivision and NES, but that's about where I stop. The newer games are all show, no go. There's just no gameplay compared to, say, Astrosmash. Or Super Mario Bros (1, 2 or 3, take your pick!) Or for sports games, try Super Sprint. Or of course, Intellivision Baseball (one of the best games ever written, anywhere, by anyone -- except for that annoying get-the-run-in-before-the-third-out-and-it-still-c ounts bug. :)

    Good stuff; I think the gaming industry today should be locked in a room with these old games to remind them how to make the games FUN!
    • Good stuff; I think the gaming industry today should be locked in a room with these old games to remind them how to make the games FUN!

      They already did that at Nintendo. I don't think you can honestly say you've tried "Advance Wars: Dual Strike", "Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$", "Animal Crossing: Wild World", or even "Nintendogs" and didn't think they were any fun.

      I had totally forgotten that I liked video games until I got a DS for my birthday. About the worst I can say about Nintendo lately is that they really like using colons in their game titles.

    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:41PM (#14771384) Homepage
      Once every couple of years, I pull my NES out of the closet and load up The Legend of Zelda. Yes, I get all nostalgic when I hear the intro music, and when I walk into that first cave to get my little wooden sword which Link is so proud to hold above his head. But after playing halfway through the first quest (or using the name ZELDA to skip directly to the second) the nostalgia wears off and I realize... the game is still actually fun. Lots of fun. Decades of playing has made the exploration part not quite so exciting... but navigating the dungeons, beating the bosses, collecting the items... Fantastic. This is truly a game that stands the test of time.
  • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:30PM (#14768384)
    -"Let's play money making game" engrish
    -Farming the graveyeard ghosts for money
    -Checking the white/master sword caves after every dungeon to see if I was "ready"
    -Dying like a million times to those fly-things in Death Mountain
    -Fucking red clouds...
    -The "slash-the-old-man-and-dodge-his-fireball-defense- turrets" minigame
    -Being really confused by the dodongo/digdogger name switch in level 5
    • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:49PM (#14768587) Homepage Journal
      Red clouds? I can't remember what you're talking about.

      Don't forget how tough those Blue Darknuts were. It was a tossup whether a pack of those or of Blue Wizzrobes were nastier.

      I still have my gold cartridge and the battery works (!), but I've taken to emulation because even with a new cartridge connector I still have to fellate my NES carts.
      • I've always been able to get games to work by using Game Genie (and not entering any codes). Much better than blowing on it. I've heard others say they can get games to work by inserting them just enough to fit and no further. But I no longer have an NES to try that. Viva NesterDC!

      • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @01:03PM (#14768725)
        The white/multicolored sparkly clouds were in 1st quest. They took your sword away for a few seconds. 2nd quest had red clouds (took your sword away permenantly) and blue clouds (which restored it). Problem one, some dungeons had only red clouds, a real pain in the ass :(
        • Drinking the Water of Life would restore your sword-weilding ability even in the abscence of blue bubbles.

          Also, I don't recall any labrynth without any blue bubbles at all. Some of them had the blues appearing very, very rarely, but IIRC there were blues in all dungeons.

          I've had Zelda since just after they re-released the gold cart with the warning to hold "Reset" while turning the power off at the savegame screen (the second release, apparently, as my cousin's version did not have such a warning), but I o
        • Yeah, those were evil. I do think there were always blue clouds available, if hard to find and a pain to get to.

          One of my favorite memories: Figuring out the that the Magic Wand was equal to the White Sword except it could shoot no matter how much health you had, and that you shouldn't get the craptacular Magic Book that made the wand shoot fire like the Candle because the wand wouldn't shoot its beam while the fire was still burning.

          Magic Wand was great when you got nailed by the red clouds. I think the
          • The Magic Book was definitely useful. You could still shoot while the fire was burning, but I think you had to wait a little longer between shots. The fire was great in Level 9. It killed the catepillar enemies very quickly, and was also great in the rooms with lots of Like Likes (the shield eaters).
      • Red clouds? I can't remember what you're talking about.

        I always called 'em bubbles, but I guess they were ghosts of some sort. Those things that buzzed around in dungeons that would make you unable to use your sword... you know what I'm talking about. In the second quest there were red ones which, instead of taking away your sword for a little while, took it away permanently until you could find a blue bubble/ghost/cloud/whatever to touch you and give it back. GOD were those aggravating.
      • I still have to fellate my NES carts.

        Actually, a cotton swab with one end soaked in rubbing alcohol works a lot better than your saliva-filled emulation of a compressed air can. Rub the moist end several times across both sides of the edge connector, and then repeat with the dry end.

      • Don't forget how tough those Blue Darknuts were. It was a tossup whether a pack of those or of Blue Wizzrobes were nastier.

        Which is why, just to maximize your pain, there were several rooms in the second quest's last dungeon that featured both. *shudder*
    • Being really confused by the dodongo/digdogger name switch in level 5

      Name switch? Dodongo was the triceratops-looking thing, Digdogger was the big floating eyeball that shrunk or split when you blew the whistle.
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:31PM (#14768403)
    My two twelve-year-olds are currently eagerly anticipating "Twilight Princess." They've had it on their lists at Amazon for months. They delay in its release gave the two of them fits.

    Maybe Windwaker wasn't to everyone's taste -- it was mine -- but Zelda has to be up there with the best of the best. What other series has lasted nearly as long, producing a mid-arc title (in Ocarina of Time) that's regarded as one of the best games of all time?

    Aside from the various EA sports titles, you don't have anything else with near as much longevity, and Madden and company partly just sell you updated rosters every year.

    • Try the Ultima series for longevity. That started somewhere around 1977 with Akkalabeth but the single player games ended with Ultima 9: Ascension in 1998 I believe it was. These games defined their genre and excelled in it for over two decades. You won't see much action though, and forget playing the first incarnations on any console. These are PC-type computer games (starting on Apple II, going to IBM PC and others along the way). I still have a 486 around here to play Ultima VII, the best of the series I
    • "you don't have anything else with near as much longevity,"


  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:31PM (#14768404)
    I remember there was a Nintendo or Nintendo Power phone number you were supposed to call when you won if you were one of the first. (I wasn't, but I tried anyway.)

    I consoled myself by attacking the "second quest" anyway.
  • Ahh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:33PM (#14768418)
    Zelda was good, one of the best even. But it still doesn't hold a candle to NetHack [nethack.org].
    • You've GOT to be kidding. I know it goes against the geek hivemind to say it, but Nethack sucks. I've never played a more boring game.
    • I played Nethack on a laptop on a business flight once. A guy walked by, did a double take, and gave me a knowing smile. A fellow member of the nerd society!
  • I won't lie, I love the Legend of Zelda. With each new game that comes out, there always seems to be this 2-4 year waiting period, by the end of which I'm ready to explode with anticipation. Will the next game live up to expectations? Will I find it challenging?

    the answer, again and again, has been 'Yes'. I have yet to play a Legend of Zelda game I don't like. Sure, there have been some games which I liked less than others, but I'd still rather play any Legend of Zelda game over Generic FPS #284. Fr

  • The SAVE feature (Score:5, Informative)

    by steveo777 ( 183629 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:38PM (#14768473) Homepage Journal
    What a God-send saving your game was. This was the first savable game we owned. Sure, you had to die, but you could start where you left off. No more overly complex code system. So what if you only had three hearts and was back at the beginning. I've got my sword and blue boomerang, just go up three, over one up three and somewhere around there is a nice fairy who will shower you with love and affection. Beyond any other game, this is what made me love Zelda (in the begining). I was only 6 when it came out and I had a hard time adopting to the controller or learning the map.

    When my parents kicked me off the Nintendo to make me play outside (which was frequent) they understood that they weren't ruining my last 20 minutes of gaming. Heck, my mom or dad would often sit co-pilot with the map helping me find where to go, but I wasn't allowd to play unless weather didn't permit me to go outside. I grew up in Minnesota, so we get a lot of extremes.

    Ah.. memories.

    • Actually, you didn't have to die to save! If you pressed start on your first controller, you could do something with the second controller to bring up the save menu. I think it was pressing Up and A at the same time.
    • You didn't have to die to save. There's a button combination on the second controller that you push to access the Continue Save Retry menu. Google is your friend.

      I didn't know that when I was a kid, though. I had one savegame that listed me as dying 255 times. :-)
      • Ha! I forgot about the death counter! I played it over and over trying to get through it without dying, just for bragging rights.
        • as sad as it is, i did eventually get to the point where I could beat it straight through w/out dying. Just quest one though, I never did do it for quest 2.

          Another fun zelda story is that it was the first game that got my father addicted. We would wake up in the morning during that time and he would be asleep on the couch w/ the contine/save/retry screen. The sad thing was that the first time he made it to level nine, I beat the game while he wasn't there. Second time, he worked his way up there, he los
  • Phillips CD-i (Score:5, Informative)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:39PM (#14768491) Homepage Journal
    Can't read it from work, but I hope the article mentions the miserable Phillips CD-i games in there somewhere.

    If not, here's a brief history:

    Originally, Nintendo worked with Sony to create a CD add-on to its then-successful SNES. Things were going along merrily, but, for some reason, Nintendo cut ties with Sony and changed to working with Phillips- and Sony didn't find out until Nintendo made a public announcement. As part of the agreement for developing a CD attachment for Nintendo, Phillips got to use some of Nintendo's properties for its own ill-fated CD-i game system.

    There were three games in all (Wand of Gamelon or something is the only title I can remember.) One had a cartoon opening scene (dubbed "Gay Link", and you'll know why if you ever see the video), another had live-action scenes (I think it was something like Myst), and another had you messily controlling Zelda on her way to save Link (hey, it had to happen sometime.)

    In the end, Nintendo did away with the whole CD thing anyway. So, out of this entire thing, we got:
    -One (1) ill-fated gaming console by Phillips
    -Three (3) horrible Zelda games which should only be referenced to prove that a good series can go bad
    -No (0) CD add-on for the SNES

    And, as you may have already guessed, Sony didn't stop production after Nintendo cut its ties- the project they were working on? You know it now as the Playstation.

    That's right- Nintendo help create the very gaming console that now overshadows them. This was the first of many stupid decisions that lead up to the Gamecube (where they corrected many of the problems.)

    As an aside, some of the other stupid decisions were: forcing N64 developers to work on the Virtual Boy (we all know how that faired), the Virtual Boy itself, using cartridges over CDs for the N64 (due to, as I understand it, mainly piracy concerns- you can't copy something if you lack the media), and losing Final Fantasy to Sony.
    • Re:Phillips CD-i (Score:2, Informative)

      by Lifewolf ( 41986 )
      One had a cartoon opening scene (dubbed "Gay Link", and you'll know why if you ever see the video)...

      One of the screenshots on this page [ganonstower.com] gives an idea of the horror of which you speak.

    • Re:Phillips CD-i (Score:3, Informative)

      by Schnapple ( 262314 )

      Things were going along merrily, but, for some reason, Nintendo cut ties with Sony and changed to working with Phillips- and Sony didn't find out until Nintendo made a public announcement.

      Wikipedia's PlayStation [wikipedia.org] page has more info but one version of events I've heard went like this: Nintendo wanted the device to be a SNES CD-ROM drive addon, and Sony wanted it to be a from-the-ground-up 32-bit console with a cartridge slot that also allowed SNES games to be played on it - figuring that reverse compatibili

    • Re:Phillips CD-i (Score:3, Informative)

      by SharpFang ( 651121 )
      Cartridges were something more than just piracy counter-measure - just note you can pack the cartridge with more than just read-only memory. (NES Doom cartridge was practically a whole computer with RAM, CPU and so on.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:40PM (#14768499)
    In trouble with the wife for this one, and probably only funny to people that have played it, but...

    Years ago we were flying from London to San Francisco on Virgin, Premium Economy class. In that class you got a SNES built-in to the back of the seat in front of you, and I spent a happy while revisting my Blanka-dominated StreetFighter II past.

    My then-girlfriend-now-wife however, not a gamer normally though certainly not averse to them, picked up Zelda: A Link To The Past. She said she really enjoyed it, but found it incredibly hard to dodge everything and couldn't get the hang of fighting.

    Years go by, and when the Gameboy Advance SP came out I bought her one along with Zelda: Link To The Past. Again, she loved it. But again she complained she just couldn't get the hang of fighting anyone. So I took a look.

    Right at the beginning of the game, you get a lamp. Except my wife didn't think this was a lamp, she thought it was a flamethrower. For several years she'd been going up to guards in the game and just flashing that lamp in their faces, expecting them to die, whilst totally ignoring the perfectly good sword she had as well.

    It's just stuck in my mind since - imagine you really are a guard in that world. Some madman comes up to you, shouts "ha ha varmint, have at you" and quickly flashes a small torch at you, Then looks puzzled and disappears. Then re-appears and does it again. FOR THREE YEARS.

    Well, I think it's funny anyway.

  • Amazing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mangloid ( 956185 )
    I am still amazing at zelda.

    a few days ago, i bought a DS, a few games, and Zelda, the minish cap for GBA.

    Ive played the DS games only a few hours, where as im playing the minish cap non stop.
  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:49PM (#14768586) Journal
    http://www.zeldaclassic.com/ [zeldaclassic.com] it is the complete original game plus gives you the ability to download add-on quests made by the fans.Dozens of quests to feed your zelda addiction!

    And does anyone remember those freaky comercials that came out for it with the guy popping his head up going "zelda?zelda?" I can't believe after all these years I still remember the damn commercial.Got to give credit to Nintendo.They really saved console gaming after the crash of '83.

  • I recall a debate that adventure games were stagnantly based on Eurocentric Medieval world views. While many, many RPGs of the time were exactly that, I enjoyed Zelda because it was Japan's take odd take on this theme. Here's a guy dressed like Robin Hood with a sword, traipsing through dungeons and forests doing some of the things a questing hobbit might do, but that's where the similarities end. Zelda, like Pac Man, was an early indication of the fountainhead of cyber-culutre that would issue from Japa
  • by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @01:00PM (#14768687) Homepage
    ... and I learn that Zelda turns 20. As if I didn't feel old already!

    On a related note, I was thinking that someone should make a movie based on the Zelda series, in the same light as LoTR.

    And then I watched Doom and thought, "Oh god no. Please don't ruin Zelda by turning it into a movie."
  • Innovation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Epyn ( 589398 )
    At the time I really wasn't a huge fan of the game, being a little bit on the youngin' side of things, but in retrospect it was so nice to play a Nintendo game that wasn't a direct arcade port. Games like Contra where you were supposed to die a bunch and could put in another quarter to get some more lives, didn't work too well when your NES lacked a coin slot.

    As for Zelda, the king and start of a long line or battery backed up save systems, kudos cause they got it right the first time, I could probably go
    • Games like Contra where you were supposed to die a bunch and could put in another quarter to get some more lives, didn't work too well when your NES lacked a coin slot.

      That is why they placed a cheat in the game....

      up , up , down , down , left ,right , left , right , B, A, start
      • Damn, only plus 2 for a cheat code that almost every kid with an NES new? I once busted that code out in a party at college. Granted it was around CS and Engeenering students...
  • Wow, that takes me back, and makes me feel all of my 37 years of age. I'll always remember the GOLD cartridge, and didn't it have a battery in there to save games? I miss the top down play of that (and other) games of yore, now they're too focused on making a virtual 3d world and forget about the puzzles and fun.

    There are flash versions out there online, here's a fun one
    http://www.t45ol.com/play_us/1887/legend-of-zelda. html [t45ol.com]
  • The fortune (Score:3, Funny)

    by Eccles ( 932 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @01:20PM (#14768889) Journal
    At the moment, it's: divorce, n: A change of wife.

    Wouldn't "A wife-changing experience" have more zing?
  • by Perseid ( 660451 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @01:23PM (#14768927)
    20 years? Isn't that how long Twilight Princess has been delayed now?
  • by GweeDo ( 127172 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @01:24PM (#14768935) Homepage
    Zelda almost stopped me from getting married. I own a lovely first edition Gold Cart of Ocarina of Time (you know, the one with blood and Muslim chants). In college my now wife (then barely a friend) kidnapped it because my room mate (their good friend) was playing it too much. I thought someone had stole it. Once I found out it was them I was pissed. They had my baby. So...my (now wifes) first real impression of me was that I was some video game luvin' jerk.

    Why she married me I will never know :)

    I still have that cart...and she knows not to touch it...
  • Oh, memories (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vga_init ( 589198 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @02:37PM (#14769661) Journal
    I was born in 1986, so I didn't really get into console gaming until a few years after Zelda was popular, but I enjoyed lots of fun RPGs at the time. A friend of mine once brought over Link to the Past, and we sat there all day and beat the game in one sitting together.

    Around when 3D gaming was taking off, there was the N64. Admittedly, the console wasn't that great, but there was a lot of hype behind it and there were a few great titles (mostly overshadowed by the sheer volume of crap). I was foolish in those days and didn't realize that Squaresoft had left me for Sony, but even by the time I found out, I didn't care; Final Fantasy games were going to be released for the PC in the future, and I decided to take my ill-gotten cash (I was too young to work, so it was all bounty from the holidays) and purchase a shiny new N64. The driving force behind my purchasing decision? Ocarina of Time.

    Okay, so I did spend several good hours playing Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64, but the vast majority of the time I spent just playing Zelda 64. It's one of the few games I've ever owned that I've played all the way though, and I did it several times. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a game so much since Final Fantasy III/VI back in the day.

    Was it worth it to buy a console just so I could play one game? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Twilight Princess is approaching release, and I've been tempted to drop the cash just to buy a Gamecube. I've never been interested in owning one before, but all it takes is one killer app.

    • "Was it worth it to buy a console just so I could play one game? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Twilight Princess is approaching release, and I've been tempted to drop the cash just to buy a Gamecube. I've never been interested in owning one before, but all it takes is one killer app."

      Replace 'gamecube' with 'xbox 360', and then have somebody from microsoft read that one more time...
  • ...that theme song. That's right, you can't! It's burned forever into our memories, down there with how to walk and how to breathe. :)

    20 years, holy cow. 20 years and I can still remember that damn song.
    • The opening theme song said so much about the game. Who else remembers putting in the cartridge, hitting the power button, and having that glowing waterfall appear with that deep, bassy music? It was so different from that loud, cartoony music that you would often hear at the start of most games. I don't know, it just made Zelda seem more epic and not just some throw away game.
  • Zelda 1 2 and 3 rule (Score:3, Informative)

    by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @02:47PM (#14769771) Journal
    I beat Zelda 1 without using the sword until the Gannon Level. I prefer 2d Zelda to 3d Zelda
  • just yesterday I finished Majora's Mask. It was waiting the whole time till I get a PC beefy enough to run Project64 at reasonable speed. I finished OOT with the old 700MHZ CPU but at 5FPS it wasn't it.
    And now I seriously ponder buying a used N64...
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @06:13PM (#14771698) Homepage Journal
    Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A friend shoulder-looking. Just after racing with the undertaker's ghost. I drop into a tiny room deep under ground surface, a small enclosed cube with no exit in any direction, somewhere at the end of an obscure tomb in the cemetery. Badly hurt, no fairies, no potions, generally screwed up.
    "I don't think it can get any worse" - I say.
    "Maybe try playing some song, the song of time or something" - says the friend.
    So I whip out the ocarina and try playing the song of time, from memory.
    And I play the wrong song. Song of storms.
    It starts raining.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.