Review by Yams

"A great game ported perfectly? Perhaps too well."

The NES was known for many games. Of them, The Legend of Zelda is easily one of the most recognized. This title single-handedly brought the famous Mario a competitor for the title of company mascot, and began a long chain of some of the highest-praised games in history. The Legend of Zelda is the quest of a young hero traveling the lands and exploring the dungeons in search of defeating an evil sorcerer, who has held the princess of Hyrule prisoner. With its release on the Game Boy Advance you can take a slice of gaming history with you on the go as you engage in the original octorok-slaying, princess-saving adventure.

As to be expected from a game of its time, the story is relatively simple. Ganon, a dark prince, appears and kidnaps the princess of Hyrule, Zelda. Zelda knew of Ganon's scheme of obtaining the triforce, a magical source of power from her, so she breaks the item into shards and scatters them across the land of Hyrule. She also orders, Impa, an elderly nurse to go out and find a warrior strong enough to combat Ganon. On her journey to find that warrior, she comes across an ambush of monsters sent by Ganon. When hope is seemingly lost, a young boy steps forward and defeats them. Impa thanks the boy and tells him about Ganon, Zelda and the triforce. This boy, now revealed to be Link, must decide the fate of Hyrule.

The lands and characters of this classic title retain their full 8-bit charm and, while cramped due to the wide screen format, are just as memorable as ever. To call the graphics good or bad is not entirely fair, as the game is more of a port than a remake. While sharpening the visuals to meet modern standards would certainly be possible, that was not the developers' intent when creating the Classic NES Series of games. Instead it was to deliver what you played in the 1980s and nothing more to change the original experience. Doing so is admirable to fans of classic gaming, but is admittedly frustrating to first-time players, who are given heavily aged visuals--ones which might take some accustoming to.

Sword-swishing sound effects and the ever-so-memorable "clink" of gathering rupees are fully retained in this port, and the resemblance to the NES original are uncanny. The classic overworld music is kept as finely-done as ever and it wouldn't surprise me the least if players have those charming tunes stuck in their heads for hours upon finally finishing the game. Dungeons have retained their suspenseful, if not somewhat creepy, tunes and are bound to keep younger players at a paranoid state. All in all, the sounds of The Legend of Zelda haven't shown as much age as gamers might expect, especially from a title which is now over 20 years old. While it's still outdated, finding it bad is a difficult task. The variety of the sound effects, and the length of individual songs is all that one can rightfully complain about.

As a gamer who is playing the port of a classic title, one shouldn't expect revamping in control mechanisms and any spiced up control shortcuts. And thinking so would be correct. The D-pad of the GBA, having slightly softer movements than the original NES controls, give the character pixel-by-pixel travel across the fields. With the A-button you have your trusted sword, which is unchangeable to the disappointment of younger Zelda fans. But you still have that B-button for the variety of bombs, boomerangs and more. One major fault about being a 100% accurate port is the lag. Hard to believe, but there actually is lag in this game, when a certain number of enemies are encountered at once. This applies to movement, actions, and even the background music. Well...if you wanted nostalgia, here it is. If you didn't, prepare for another pinch of frustration at the developers for wanting everything of the original to remain in-tact.

Replay Value:
The subject of replay value will always vary of the type of gamer in question. Some will play a game twice in one sitting, while others will leave the copy to gather dust. But if you're the type of person to pick up a remake solely for the nostalgia factor, it shouldn't be a surprise to see yourself coming back to this a couple of months later for another round of adventure time in Hyrule. Over two decades and still going, this is a game that's already shown its strong test of time.

Special Features:
Having something the original did not isn't always a bad thing for nostalgia-driven gamers. This game comes with more of a tweak than a special feature, which is a special sleep mode. Using this allows you to pause at any given time for a quick nap or whatever keeps distracting you, while saving a noteworthy amount of battery life in the process. Considering the frustration of starting points in this game, it's a welcomed addition for the folks who worry about the batteries of the first GBA model, but easily get distracted by the events of outside life.

For Reference:
The title received an E for Everyone (ages 6 and older) from the ESRB, noting its Mild Fantasy Violence.

"Classic NES Series: The Legend of Zelda" for Game Boy Advance receives an 8 out of 10. The only major gripes that I have against it are that the slowdown glitch is still present, and that the general scenery in the game is squashed by the wide-screen translation. The original 20 US dollar price tag, while not effecting the gameplay, can be questionable to some gamers. But with those aside, this is one of the best portable ports on the market, and the creme de la creme of the Classic NES Series. Looking for an untouched port of the original? Look no further, my friend.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/01/04, Updated 09/29/10

Game Release: Classic NES Series: The Legend of Zelda (US, 06/02/04)

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