May 11, 2016
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of one of my all time favourite series. It feels like only yesterday that I went to the 25th Anniversary Symphony in London. The atmosphere there was incredible and it’s easy to see why. The Zelda series has captured the hearts and minds of gamers around the world, let’s take a look at how that legacy began.
The Legend Of Zelda.
The very first Legend of Zelda game was released in Japan on Febuary 21st 1986. This was a landmark release, nothing else quite like it had ever been released on a console (Final Fantasy came out almost two years after.) and the impact it made was incredible. The game was dreamed up and created by a team three very influential people who have all gone on to become very important people within Nintendo: Shigeru Miyamoto, Toshihiko Nakago and Takashi Tezuka. What’s even more amazing is that they were working on this at the same time as the original Super Mario Bros!
The inspiration came from the adventures Miyamoto has a child in his small town of Sonobe, he enjoyed exploring the fields and caves around the village. He sat with Tezuka and the two of them drew up a map of the over world, and from there, Hyrule, and the Legend of Zelda was born.
The very first Zelda overworld. Tezuka drew the left side, Miyamoto drew the right.
The game was released on the Famicom Disk System at first and was met with a very positive reaction, but that reaction didn’t immediately turn into sales, as the Disk System was an expensive add-on to the Famicom which limited the potential customers.
When Nintendo decided to release the game in the west they found a way to fit the entire of the game, along with a battery for saving (a very exciting thing at the time!) onto a standard cartridge. To build excitement even more, and of course to try and get as many sales as possible, it was released as a gold cart. To this day is still looks amazing and goes for quite a bit on eBay as a result! The western release was no actually until 1987 so we should be celebrating the anniversary next year.
The game it’s self hasn’t aged quite as beautifully though. While it’s still an impressive adventure full of clever puzzles and interesting items. The game lacks many of the things we take for granted these days. Take for example, understandable dialogue…
If you can get past that and a bit of getting lost then the game is still thoroughly enjoyable and a blast to play! It’s been released on many different consoles over the years including Famicom Disk System, Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U.
If you’ve played any of the later main games in the franchise you will notice the actual structure of the games has barely changed, explore the over world, find a dungeon, solve some puzzles, find an item, use the item to finish the dungeon, kill a boss, get a reward, repeat. The formula was perfect, it made for a compelling adventure and there was already a strong fanbase growing around the franchise, so, of course, Nintendo decided to turn everything on its head for the sequel…