"The classic NES epic... now fun-sized!"

It's not often that a game like Zelda comes along and carves a legacy for itself from the get-go. Now my personal favorite game series, Zelda has branched out to just about all of Nintendo's systems, and has even spawned a Game & Watch game as well as an infamous set of titles for an unsuccessful system called the Philips CD-I.

So it's only natural that the one that started it all, as well as several other vintage NES games, would find its way back into the spotlight. Not just content with putting it on the Zelda: Collector's Edition disc for the GameCube, Nintendo chose to squeeze this gem onto the Game Boy Advance, too. Aside from a few technical quirks resulting from the conversion to GBA, Legend of Zelda is still great after 18 years. And you don't need another system to save your game, either. (Pressing Up and Select on the item screen takes care of that.)

Like the rest of the Classic NES Series games, Legend of Zelda isn't quite a flawless port. In order for the graphics to fit the GBA's rather odd resolution, Nintendo had to slice off some rows of pixels here and there. The effect is most apparent when a shopkeeper or old man "speaks" as well as on the title screen, but it doesn't really sacrifice much image quality at all. Some of the other reviewers on GameFAQs have complained about slowdown when too many objects are on the screen. What they may not realize is that this occurred on the NES as well, and since the Classic NES Series games are designed to emulate the NES hardware perfectly (not including the slightly scrunched graphics), their complaints amount to little more than whining about something that can't be helped.

A game from 1986 isn't going to win any beauty contests, but Link's battles and the environments he explores are still as vibrant as ever. The sound emulation is nearly perfect, save for some very small issues with the title screen music.

And yes, the gameplay's still great. You'll trek across the world of Hyrule, mastering challenging dungeons to find the eight Triforce pieces before heading off to a showdown with Ganon. Along the way, you'll use weapons like a bow and a magic rod and find items such as a magic whistle, an everlasting candle, and a raft. Although the first Zelda didn't have as many gadgets or play features as, say, Link to the Past, it's still loads of fun to play... and then there's the challenging Second Quest, which changes several locations in the overworld and makes the dungeon layouts completely different. If you haven't played through this game before, you're in for a real treat. And if you're a Zelda veteran, the nostalgia still holds strong.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/08/04

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