The Legend of Zelda - Retroview

Who'da Thunk it?

By: Desh

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 5
   Plot 4
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Medium to Hard
   Time to Complete

5-15 hours


Title Screen

   Well, Zelda needs rescuing again, and Link is the only one who save the day... what? You mean, this is the first time? Wow, and I thought Zelda was just misbehaving again... By now, the concept of our trippin' elf saving Hyrule and Princess Zelda from the powers of Ganon is not new at all. Every extremely successful LoZ game has included this crux in the storyline, the others... well, they get mixed criticisms. So, where DID Link's sword and shield come from?

   Unless you read the Instruction Manual, you wouldn't know the story behind Link and Zelda - just that you need to save the princess by collecting pieces of a big triangle thingy. And, of course, killing off all the monsters in the land is vital, too. Fights are done strictly real-time, no turns. Link, after receiving his sword, can shoot it at enemies if his health-hearts are all full. Otherwise, he has to rely on his smooth moves to get close to the enemy and strike. He also has other items and weapons to help him annihilate monsters, such as the boomerang, arrows, and bombs. This was a very workable system, and contributed well to the diversity that the Nintendo RPG world demanded.

   The menus in the Legend of Zelda are balking though. A dozen commands to choose from in an instant, each with many submenus... what am I saying?! There is one very simple menu to access by pressing the start button which lets you see the triforce or dungeon map and lets you choose from an item from your inventory. Oooooo scary. Very simple. The only regretable thing to mention about the game in this respect is that it seems that the only way to save is to sacrifice yourself. Oooops. But, you weren't about to STOP, were you? Thankfully, the game auto-saves between quests, so you don't have to play the WHOLE thing in one big stretch.

Old men and their hobbies
Old men and their hobbies  

   All right, so there are... let's see here... SEVEN songs in the whole game. One is the intro, another the ending, and yet another the "You died" music. And then there is the final dungeon and Ganon music. That leaves two songs to fill up the rest of the game. Ouch! The labyrinth theme is well done, but the overworld theme... It's nice and all, and it has been remixed and redone countless times... but hearing it 90% of the time is tiring. Oh well; at least the music isn't horrible.

   "Save the princess" was one of the most-used plot device in the early games. Wow, how original. However, the game-play is extraordinarily good, and was one of the first of its kind. So, while the plot was below average, the originality of this game was alright.

   The translation, overall, was a mixed bag. While there wasn't a whole bunch to be translated, it became obvious that space was valued more than quality. Every now and then, a spooky old man would say something like "Go to the next room." However, it was pleasing and funny when another spooky old man (or is it the same every time?) said "Your money or your life," forcing you to either pay him 100 rupees or hand over a heart container. So, overall, the localization is blah.

   With all that said, let me turn around and say that the replay value for this game is great. Sure, you have to sit through some nauseating text, but... whatever. The gameplay makes for great fun, and, if you're like me, you're prone to getting the urge to kill something - and what better place but here! Also, there is a second quest which offers considerably more challenge.

Not EXACTLY what you'd expect the inside of a tree to look like...
Not EXACTLY what you'd expect the inside of a tree to look like...  

   All right, so the Legend of Zelda doesn't have Megaman graphics. Fine. That doesn't take away from the fact that the little sprites and tiled backgrounds are pretty. They clearly distinguish different objects, and the add to the atmosphere of the game, actually making the game a bit more fun. "Ooh, I killed the funny-looking floating thingy!" 'Nuff said.

With all the hints the Intruction Manual throws at you, the first quest in this game becomes almost cake. Still, there are puzzles to be solved, some of which are mildly challenging. Also, the second quest offers more challenge... especially in finding out how to get into the third dungeon without hints... hehehe.

If you know what you are doing, you can race through both quests in around five hours. However, if you're a perfectionist player like me, you just HAVE to get all the hearts and go through every room in Ganon's dungeon... and you'll spend at most fifteen hours doing this.

An ingenius design for the final dungeon
An ingenius design for the final dungeon  

Despite some of its major downfalls, the Legend of Zelda is an extremely addictive game. Almost everything I previously bad-talked just... doesn't matter. Hey, if you can't get the best, why not cover up the fact? I don't know if it was planned, but the game designers did a good job glossing over plot and stuff. I do know one thing, though - Santa isn't missing THIS violent elf...

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