Virtual Console Review – The Legend of Zelda

Title: The Legend of Zelda

Genre: Action adventure

System: FDS. Also on NES, GameCube, GBA and Virtual Console.

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

So here we are… stood at the humble beginnings of a gaming franchise that would grow to be one of greatest of all time. Like Super Mario Bros. it’s remarkable to think just how far the Zelda series has evolved in its 25 year history. Even with its distinct retro feel, The Legend of Zelda still manages to be an immensely enjoyable and captivating game. Many of Zelda’s modern traits can be traced back to this game, from familiar weapons and items, to open world exploration, dungeon play and boss battles. And lets not forget that classic Zelda over world theme.

The story tells of an evil wizard Ganon, who has invaded the peaceful land of Hyrule and stolen the Triforce of Power. In order to stop Ganon gaining the Triforce of Wisdom, Princess Zelda splits it into eight fragments and scatters them throughout the land. Before being kidnapped by Ganon, Zelda orders Impa to find a hero who can save the land. After a young boy named Link helps Impa fight off an attack from Ganon’s forces, she gives this task to him.

After acquiring a sword at the start, you set off on your adventure in your now familiar green garb, travelling the vast land in search of the eight pieces of the Triforce. On your quest you will visit dungeons, battle fiendish enemies and bosses, discover hidden caves and secret passages. By the time you have rebuilt the Triforce and are ready to face Ganon, you’ll be armed to the teeth with an array of weapons and items.

Gameplay is classic top down Zelda. And while many of the modern trademark Zelda ideas weren’t introduced until A Link to the Past (no Master Sword or parallel worlds), this remains a solid adventure none-the-less. The Map itself is huge, made even more impressive given the limitations of a NES game. The Lost Woods, Death Mountain, lakes and deserts all help to make a diverse landscape with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Dungeons are understandably not as complex or diverse as more recent games, mainly consisting of an arrangement of rooms with a hidden item and a boss room at the end. Boss battles can be surprisingly tough, especially when your health isn’t fully powered up.

The only issues would be the slightly dated controls. Movement is limited to up, down, left, right and you can only equip one secondary item at a time. However with time, it’s something you learn to live with and it’s not a huge hinderance.

Make no bones about it, The Legend of Zelda is one tough cookie! It’s a harsh reminder of how modern games lead you by the hand. You can expect to be seeing the ’game over’ screen countless times, especially early on in the game before you have built up your heart containers. There are some pointers in the game, but these are pretty useless and few and far between. It’s a game designed to let the player discover things for themselves. Even traveling across Hyrule to your next objective requires fast reflexes as enemies sprout from the ground in front of you chipping away at your hearts. This is by no means a bad thing of course. Many gamers (including myself) welcome a challenge, and it only adds to the longevity of the game. After all, you wouldn’t want to sail through the adventure too quickly would you?

If you can look past the basic graphics and dated controls you’ll find a classic slice of Nintendo magic here. And it’s a great way to see how one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises began. If you haven’t played it before, it comes highly recommended. Just be prepared to put in the hours, it’s worth every second.

Neil’s Score: – 9/10

One Response to “Virtual Console Review – The Legend of Zelda”
  1. Steve T. says:

    Just downloaded by Ambassador Certificate yesterday and when I get the chance I’m jumping on this. Won’t have to clean my Nintendo over and over to get it to work


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