The Legend of Zelda was the first game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series, kick starting the entire franchise and spawning 17 further titles. The game lies at the end of the of the Downfall Timeline, following events in Ocarina of Time, A Link To The Past and other adventures.
The Legend of Zelda was released in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System, and was later released on the NES platform in the American and European territories. Since the initial release, the title has been re-released on almost every Nintendo platform since, including the Wii and Wii U, Game Boy Advance and 3DS.
The Legend of Zelda‘s sales are second only to the latest console title, Skyward Sword, selling 6.5 million copies, and holds the record as the NES’ fourth-best selling game of all time.
Development and Release
Originally developed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, credited as “S. Miyahon” and “Ten Ten”concurrently respectively, The Legend of Zelda was developed concurrently with the original Super Mario Bros. with their ideas completely separated. Where Super Mario Bros. would be very linear, The Legend of Zelda would be the complete opposite. Making the player think about what they wanted to do next, as opposed to simply gaining a high score like many other titles at the time.
<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-1044” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/44750-Classic_Nes_-_The_Legend_of_Zelda_UTrashMan-8.png” alt=”Man in the Cave” />Initial early designs showed that Link started with a sword, however, players were confused and had trouble finding their way through the game and dungeons, so Miyamoto took away the sword and forced the players to communicate and share ideas. This idea was a new form of game communication, and went on to inspire a whole new franchise: Animal Crossing.
In Legend of Zelda, Miyamoto wanted to take the idea of a game-world even further, giving players what he called “a miniature garden they can put inside their drawer.” He drew his inspiration — like many other ideas of his — from his times exploring fields, woods and caves around Kyoto as a boy. He wanted to impart a sense of adventuring and exploration in the Legend of Zelda games.
<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1043” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Zelda_Fitzgerald_portrait-250x346.jpg” alt=”Zelda Fitzgerald” />A “symbol of courage, wisdom and strength”, Link was designed for players to identify with, the idea that an ordinary boy is capable of defeating the ultimate evil. Princess Zelda was named after the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a famous novelist. Zelda Fitzgerald “was a famous and beautiful woman from all accounts, and I liked the sound of her name. So I took the liberty of using her name for the very first Zelda title,” Miyamoto explained.
Designing the sound and music for the game, Koji Kondo initially wanted to use the ‘Boléro’ orchestral piece for the main title, but found out late in the development cycle that the copyright has not yet expired. As a result, Kondo wrote a new arrangement of the over-world theme within a day.
The Legend of Zelda was initially released for the launch of the Family Computer Disk System in Japan, alongside Super Mario Bros., Tennis, Baseball, Golf, Soccer, and Mahjong. The title was full use of the disk’s 128-kilobytes. Due to the still-limited space on the disk, however, the game was only in katakana and rather than passwords to save progress, it used rewritable disks to save the game.
<img class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-1042” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/The_legend_of_zelda_FDS-150x150.jpg” alt=”The Legend of Zelda FDS” />When released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and switching to a cartridge format, the game made use of a special memory chip that could use bank-switching, allowing larger games than previously possible. Cartridges also allowed for battery-powered RAM, which let players save progress for the first time on a cartridge.
Despite concerns, The Legend of Zelda was well received, and was eventually released in the North American market, but not before the game’s sequel, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had been available in Japan for six months.
Upon publishing the game in North America, the packaging and design for the box cut away to reveal a unique gold-coloured cartridge. Nintendo of America also sought to keep strong base of over 2 million fans by introducing a membership scheme for anyone who had bought the game and sent in the warranty card. Members received a newsletter increasing in size every delivery, completely free of charge.
<img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-1046” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Nintendo_Power_Volume_1_-_Scan-226x300.png” alt=”Nintendo Power Issue 1” />From this successful membership, Nintendo realised that as well as the newsletter’s puzzles and jokes, the games tips and secrets were what readers loved the most. By 1988, over a million players were in the FanClub, leading to Nintendo to create the ‘Nintendo Power’ magazine.
Despite advertisements costing a lot back in the 1980s and Nintendo not having a big catalogue of products, they didn’t produce many commercials, and when they did, they had to be of great-quality. Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda commercial was very well-received and featured a haired, nerdy guy walking through the dark making goofy noises, yelling out the names of enemies from the game and screaming Princess Zelda’s name.
Nintendo also released a great deal of merchandise related to The Legend of Zelda, which included toys, guidebooks, watches and apparel, and even a breakfast cereal called Nintendo Cereal System.
The games and its sequel, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link were adapted into an animated series, aired on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Link and Zelda appeared in several episodes of* Captain N: The Game Master* that revolved around themes from The Adventure of Link.
Selling over 6.5 million copies, The Legend of Zelda was a certified best-seller for Nintendo and paved the way for future games and the series as a whole. It was the first NES title to sell over one million copies, and was re-issued as part of Nintendo’s “Classic Series” but featuring a grey cartridge.
The Legend of Zelda is considered one of the greatest and influential games of all time, regularly making high placings in “Best Ever” lists. Guinness World Records has awarded The Legend of Zelda series five world records in Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition, including “Highest-Rated Game of All Time” and “First Game with a Battery Powered Save Feature”.
The Legend of Zelda introduced a new level of gaming. Introducing roleplaying, action, adventure and puzzles into one game. Played from a top-down perspective, Link starts with a shield, and is able to find a sword immediately at the start of the game in a cave.
<img class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-1039” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/004-300x206.png” alt=”The Legend of Zelda NPC” />Throughout the game merchants, townsfolk and other non-playable characters provide Link with cryptic clues. These people are often hidden and found in places like caves, shrubs and waterfalls.
There are nine dungeons altogether in The Legend of Zelda and unlike further titles in the series, these can be attempted and completed at any point, providing a full non-linear experience. Each dungeon does increase in difficulty though, and can be helped by collecting items from previous dungeons.
Each dungeon is a unique, maze-like collection of rooms connected by doors and secret passages a guarded by monsters and creatures different from the surface versions. At the end of each dungeon, Link finds a piece of the Triforce of Wisdom, of which there is 8. Once Link has collected 8 pieces, he can then enter the ninth dungeon and help rescue Princess Zelda.
After completing the game, the player is able to play through the game a second time, officially referred to the “Second Quest”. The dungeons and placement of items were completely different and enemies were stronger. Whilst not a unique idea to have a “replay” mode, The Legend of Zelda was one of the few games to offer a new difficulty on the s second play through. The “Second Quest” can replayed each time the game is completed and can also be accessed by starting a file with the name “ZELDA” as opposed to “LINK”.
Each dungeon hides a different item or tool that Link can add to his arsenal, setting the template for further Zelda titles in the series. These range from a boomerang and a recorder with magical properties.
Trivia and Facts
It is possible, although quite difficult, to make it through the game up until the final boss without a Sword, although once Ganon is reached, the player must have a Sword to damage him.
The last dungeon is over half the size of the entire over-world.
This is one of the only games where Link can only have a maximum of 16 hearts, the other 2 being Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.
Link was directly inspired by Peter Pan.
The first five dungeons of the second quest spell ZELDA when arranged side by side.
The Legend of Zelda was the very first instalment of the Legend of Zelda franchise, but is not the first game in the overall Timeline. The game takes place after the events of Triforce Heroes in the Downfall Timeline and takes place in the Era of Decline after the monarchy of Hyrule had started to use the Triforce.
The Legend of Zelda Backstory
After the failure of the Hero of Time and the subsequent stopping of the Demon King Ganon and Yuga by the Ancient Sages, Princess Zelda and the Hero, Hyrule entered a relatively peaceful era. The Hyrule Royal Family had learned to use and respect the power of the Gods, but still the armies of darkness wished to claim the ultimate power, the golden triangles called the Triforce.
The Legend of Zelda Events
<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-1047” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Legend_of_Zelda_-_NES_-_Story.png” alt=”Legend of Zelda Story” />Ganon, having been revived once more, gathered an evil army to storm Hyrule and steals the Triforce of Power. Planning to plunge the world into fear and darkness under his rule once more, Princess Zelda split the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and hid them throughout the land of Hyrule, away from the clutches of Ganon.Whilst hiding the Triforce of Wisdom, Princess Zelda also instructed her attendant, Impa, to secretly escape in to the land and search for a man who would have enough courage of destroy Ganon once and for all. Upon hearing of this plan, Ganon was enraged and imprisoned the princess, and sent his army to search for Impa.
Braving the rough terrain of Hyrule, Impa fled for his life from her pursuers, and at the limit of her will and energy, found herself surrounded by Ganon’s evil army. Suddenly, a boy appeared from nowhere and skilfully drove off Ganon’s henchmen, and saved Impa.
This boy’s name was Link, and he had come across Ganon’s search party and Impa on his travels. Impa wastes no time in telling Link the whole story of Princess Zelda and the evil Ganon. Burning with a sense of injustice, Link resolved to fight Ganon and rescue Zelda, but Ganon was a powerful opponent, who held the Triforce of Power.
In order to fight Ganon. Impa told Link that he had to recover the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom and bring them together, to help rebuild the mystical triangle. Without doing so, Link would not be able to fight way into Death Mountain and confront Ganon.
Link starts his adventure, exploring the land of Hyrule, battling enemies and investigating the dungeons dotted across the land. Divided into numerous sections Hyrule is a great land, full of different landscapes including the Lost Woods, Death Mountain, a lake, a forest and a graveyard.
<img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-1048” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/legend_of_zelda_nes_ending-300x225.jpg” alt=”Legend of Zelda Ending” />In each of the locations Link explores, a hidden labyrinth is present which, deep inside, holds the fragment of the Triforce of Wisdom Link is looking for. Inside the dungeons, Link encounters enemies strange to him, those different from the world outside. Also inside the dungeons are weapons and items that Link finds useful inside that dungeon and the dungeons he explores later.
After exploring the land of Hyrule and retrieving the eight hidden pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, Link finally enters the ninth dungeon, which lies high atop Death Mountain. Fighting his way to the top, Link confronts Ganon and destroys him with a Silver Arrow, found within the dungeon.
After Ganon’s defeat, Link picks up the Triforce of Power that the Prince of Darkness held, and returns both pieces back to Princess Zelda, whom he releases from her cell. Zelda tells him that peace would return to Hyrule now that Ganon has been defeated.
The Legend of Zelda Legacy
Peace returned to the land of Hyrule, however, the Triforce still tempted the hearts of men. With the Triforce still split into three parts, and armies and families torn apart in their quest for the golden triangles, it is only a matter of time before that peace is broken again…