Review by berenlazarus
"CLASSIC NES's best release. Wish they had included Zelda II"
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, one of Nintendo's most famous NES games, finally sees a rerelease on Gameboy Advance. People have been waiting a long time for this. The Super Mario series got its update (including a graphic overhaul) over a decade ago on the SNES as SUPER MARIO ALL-STARS, including a brand new (for the American market) game called THE LOST LEVELS. The two NES Zelda games, however, never got rereleased until the Game Cube (!), and on top of that, it was a promotional, free rerelease. All this being said, is the long wait worth it?
Well, sort of. Although it's great to play the old school Zelda without hooking up a working NES, it's rather pricy at twenty dollars and the graphics may very well turn off younger video gamers. Not only that, it's very odd NINTENDO gave Zelda fans four Zelda titles in the ZELDA COLLECTION for free, and here they just released the original without any bonus material or extra features. Nintendo could very easily have included ZELDA II on this cart as well. That being said, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, of all the classic NES games re-released, is one of the few that justify's its pricetag. The rest could easily have been put in an anthology of classic NES games, instead of bringing each one out separately.
The gameplay of THE LEGEND OF ZELDA sets up the template followed by all subsequent games in the series. (Only the NES sequel has any real amount of deviation from the Zelda formula, bring in more RPG elements into the mix). You play as Link, a hero in green, who has to rescue Zelda from the evil megalomaniac, Gannon. Not to much of a story, but about as good as you got in the mid 1980s. You have to rescue eight pieces of the Triforce, which is a mystical triangle (one of three). These triforce fragments are hidden throughout the world map in various dungeons. Items you get in one dungeon gives you access to other dungeons, and as you progress, you get various upgrades for your sword and pick up new items. After you beat Gannon the first time, then a second quest opens up, with items, dungeons, and shops in entirely different locations. I wish they had released a special edition of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS with the Japanese version of SMB II as a `second quest." But oh well. Unfortunately, the second quest never really caught on with other games. The Second Quest is harder than the first. To get to the Second Quest at the beginning of the game, put "ZELDA" as your name.
The game itself is very nonlinear, which is what made it such a popular game. There was the incredible depth of adventure that just permeated the entire thing. Released during a time when most games were side-scrollers, this set you in a world where you could explore and find items. There is the now standard item list, where you obtain items and use them to interact with the world about you. There are hidden dungeons that you must find, and you can burn bushes and push rocks, etc. It radically opened the power of the NES console up, and the gaming world would never be the same.
Ironically, though, some may find ZELDA too challenging for this very reason. Bereft of any real narrative, ZELDA doesn't give you any real direction where to go next, save for the infamous, sometimes incomprehensible old men who give you `clues' on where to go next. If you don't know where you're going, you'll find yourself wondering around a lot, mostly directionless. That's what made the game so popular in the first place, but for modern games it may be off-putting how difficult it is to find some of the dungeons without some internal direction from the game. (As a perfect example, just think how many bombs you would have to use to find the very obscure ninth dungeon on the second quest.) The SNES installment gives you visual indicators on where to bomb, etc; the original ZELDA does not give you visual ques on anything. So unless you know the game well or you have access to walkthroughs, expect a lot of time just trying to figure out where to go next.
The graphics, while looking rather archaic by today's standards, holds up rather well given its age. The sprites are bright and the scenery is colourful. There's only a few instances where you can tell that the screen was squished to adapt to Game Boy Advance's screen, but this isn't very noticeable. The music is a near perfect port too, making this a very faithful recreation of the original. For those old enough to remember the NES glory days, the graphics will bring back a lot of memories; for new gamers, however, they may find it difficult to get over the primitive graphics and into the game itself. Their loss.
Conclusion: One of the few NES CLASSICS worth shelling out twenty bucks for. Still, it's rather puzzling they didn't include anything extra, or even the second NES Zelda game, given they released both ZELDA and ZELDA II, plus the two N64 games, on one spectacular, free collection for GameCube. For those who never played the original Zelda, this will hook you for life. There's no better way to start playing this historic series than the original. For those of us old enough to remember the NES, this is a great game, and a great way to relive very fond memories. Still, if you don't have the Zelda Collection, this is a very worthwhile purchase.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/13
Game Release: Classic NES Series: The Legend of Zelda (US, 06/02/04)
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