The first part of my new challenge was already completed a few days before I started to think about actually completing them all. The closest thing to the original Zelda I ever played was the Zelda Classic “remake” on the PC. It was basically a Legend of Zelda engine that allowed for custom quests and the original quest was one of them. I never finished it, though, since I was a bit younger back then and had very short attention span. I eventually wandered off the play various mini quests, including one involving the Neverending Story.
A few weeks ago, I decided to download Nestopia and play through the game from start to finish. It started out badly. It’s been ages since I played any old school game of this type, so my reflexes were extremely rusty. For the life of me, I could not progress past the first few screens. I wandered around, killed enemies, died, wandered some more, killed some more, died some more and eventually, I managed to gather enough rupies to buy myself a new shield as well as the magic candle. The shield allowed me to survive for longer so, once I gathered some bombs, I managed to find my first heart upgrade.
With all of this, I felt confident enough for my first dungeon. Ages ago, I played Link’s Awakening on the original Game Boy and I remembered that this is how the game progresses. Well, playing Phantom Hourglass a while back also hinted at that, so it’s not like I was a complete newbie. The problem was, I couldn’t find the first dungeon no matter how hard I looked. I found the second one, I even managed to get to one of the later ones, but the first one was impossible for me to find.
This brings me to my first beef with the game. It needed a map, badly. Not for the secrets, not for the locations, just so I could know where the hell I am and where I’ve been before. Sure, there technically is a map in the game, but it’s completely useless. Lucky for me, I managed to find a spoiler-free overworld map, thanks to Tartarus of RPG Classics. With this, finding all the dungeons was a breeze.
I fought through dungeon after dungeon, making sure to explore the overworld after each new item and managed to clear most of them with relative ease. At a couple of points, I started finding the dungeons a bit to difficult, but after getting the Blue Ring from the obvious secret shop next under one of those several statues, I managed to get past those to. After all of that, I have to say one thing – I hate the knight enemies. I hate them with a passion. The mages in the final dungeons were difficult and annoying, but never as annoying as the knights.
Anyway, after getting a whole bunch of items and a whole bunch of hearts, I entered the final dungeon and boy was it difficult. I played through it for hours, constantly dying, but also constantly managing to get a step further than before. Once I got the red ring, things became a bit easier, but it was never a breeze. Eventually, though, I found Ganon and, since he was invisible, eventually figured out where to attack in order to damage him. I couldn’t kill him, though. I had no idea how. However, since I’m quite familiar with the various tropes you can find in entertainment, I figured I have to do something special one he changes colour. Thanks to one of the old men in the dungeon, I managed to kill him with the silver arrow, and that was it.
Except it wasn’t! Apparently, there’s a second quest. I’m not going through that one. From what I can tell, the differences between the quests are only in item and enemy placement, so I really see no point. I got through the story and I experienced the game fully as far as I’m concerned. I think A Link to the Past will be next.
Legend of Zelda – Final Impressions
So what are my impressions? All in all, they’re pretty positive. The Legend of Zelda definitely deserves to be called a classic. It innovated back then and it still innovates today. Sure, some of the archaic design methods pull it down a bit these days, but I still find it an above average game with fun and compelling gameplay. The music and sound is signature to the series, while the retro dialogue lines and story give it a nostalgic charm. I feel most gamers, young and old, should at least experience a Zelda game, and there’s no reason for this one not to be that game.
The first part of my Legend of Zelda challenge is complete.
On a side note, playing through this game made me truly realize how much of an inspiration it is for Binding of Isaac. It’s not just the room layout and the camera perspective. The enemies, the bosses, even the items of the Legend of Zelda are a huge inspiration to the Binding and its expansion. This makes me like both games even more.