Wednesday, 24 February 2021

A Link to the Past: 35 years of The Legend of Zelda



The Legend of Zelda celebrates its 35th anniversary this week.

Nintendo's beloved video game franchise debuted on the Famicom Disk System in 1986 and holds a special place for many gamers (myself included).

I first encountered Link and the titular Princess Zelda in an animated spin-off series, which was part of Captain N: The Game Master, broadcast on ITV in the UK.

From 1989 to 1991, Captain N: The Game Master mined Nintendo's enviable library of hit video game franchises at the peak of the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System's (NES) popularity in the US - dubbed the Nintendo Nation due to the company's dominance.

Whilst I remember playing The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the original Nintendo Game Boy in WHSmith, during breaks between college lectures, it wouldn't be until the release of the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), in 1992, that I would fully appreciate the brilliance of the fantasy action-adventure franchise for myself.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past became synonymous with my gap year.

The vast majority of college friends were away studying at university and there was serious family life upheaval in the wake of an economic recession in the early nineties. Link's adventures in Hyrule were an escape from the turmoil and feelings of isolation. Not for the first or last time, video games would continue to play a pivotal role since the Atari age.

A Link to the Past, with its colourful graphics, memorable soundtrack and immersive gameplay, is a video game I treasure to this day and have subsequently replayed countless times on multiple Nintendo consoles. It has earned a place alongside The Lord of the Rings, The War of the Worlds and Doctor Who Target novelisations on the bookshelf.

The Kyoto-based company has announced The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword (affiliate link), originally released on the Nintendo Wii, this July.

Controversially, Skyward Sword made exclusive use of the Wii MotionPlus and inadvertently alienated a lot of gamers at the time of its release in 2011. Ironically, the Wii enabled many differently-abled family friends to play video games for the very first time in their lives. Incidentally, Dad and I donated a Wii console bundle to my late mum's nursing home (as part of a multimedia wall in tribute to her memory).

With all that said.

The Nintendo Switch port of Skyward Sword is an exciting opportunity to revisit this largely overlooked title and I'm looking forward to playing it for the first time. Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury should scratch the Nintendo itch in the meantime. That's when I'm not playing Detroit: Become Human, God of War or Control: Ultimate Edition on PS5. Did I mention the PS5's DualSense is now my all-time favourite controller?

Hopefully, there'll be a The Legend of Zelda 35th anniversary collection comparable to Super Mario 3D All-Stars this holiday season. Certainly, I would welcome the chance to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on Switch.

What are your favourite memories of playing The Legend of Zelda? Let me know in the comments below.

3 comments:

  1. Link to the past is and always will be ‘my’ Zelda game. Nothing else released since has met with my expectations and it’s still the best way to experience hyrule.

    The remake of links awakening was great on switch and I’d love another top down adventure. Much prefer it.

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    1. Agreed! The move to 3D with Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 (N64) didn't capture my imagination as fully, especially when Mario 64 rarely left my N64.

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  2. The moment I fell in love with The Legend of Zelda was after the first encounter with Agahnim and you’re thrown on top of the golden temple. After the conversation with Sah...Sahash... that wise guy, the music kicked in.

    That’s what did it. The Dark World theme. The Magic Mirror sound, all of it. The fact that I can go back and forth between worlds (eventually) and how my 7 year old brain exploded due to the sheer size of these worlds.

    I loved Link’s Awakening and that also has a special place in my heart. Same with Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask. Whenever I think about these games I feel like turning on my SNES and diving into it for hours on end.

    While the newer titles don’t capture my imagination like the original few did, I’m sure they offer something special for fans and newcomers alike.

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