The Legend of Zelda - Retroview

It's Really About Link
By: Roku

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interaction 3
   Originality 4
   Story 2
   Music & Sound 3
   Visuals 3
   Challenge Easy
   Completion Time 5-15 hours  

Yay!  I can fight stuff now!
Yay! I can fight stuff now!
The Legend of Zelda
From the land of Hyrule comes the first game in the Legend of Zelda series. Despite the name, The Legend of Zelda focuses primarily around the hero Link who fights the monsters in the world in order to save princess Zelda. During your quest you can collect many items and powerups such as heart pieces which increase your HP, better weapons which increase power, and armor which raises defense. Though you can enter the first eight levels in any order, (if you have the right items) you must beat all of them in order to enter the final level to face the evil Gannon.

LoZ is one of the first action RPGs and has a simple battle system. Hitting an enemy with your sword or a special item will inflict damage and getting hit by an enemy's attack will cause damage to you. Battles are fought in real time and space so you are free to evade or block attacks and enemies can evade or block yours. The real time element of battle makes even the simple battle system of LoZ fairly exciting. You have a number of tools to assist you in battle including bombs, a boomerang, and a ladder which you can use to get across small amounts of water or hide from enemies. There are certain enemies in higher levels that can remove your sword temporarily or slowly eat your shield so you must explore dungeons with care.

Though you are dropped off in the middle of a very hostile environment with only a wooden sword, there are a large number of powerups nearby to assist you. Once you get used to the game, buy items, and gather a few of the powerups, it becomes much easier to travel. Once you have a few special items, you can even enter the 8th level without too much of a problem. The 9th level has a large increase in difficulty, but it is also fairly easy. If you play the game a second time (second quest), all of the powerups will be placed in difficult locations and most of the dungeons increase in difficulty.

It is easy to control Link whether he's fighting, traveling, or warping. He moves slowly, but accurately. There are only a few lines of dialog in the entire game so the dialog is less than impressive. I don't know what they were thinking when the designed the save feature either as it is quite annoying and isn't intuitive in the least. Despite that, LoZ has surprisingly good interaction.

LoZ is one of the first action RPGs created and thus is quite original. Many of the tools used in the game were unique at the time and have been used in countless RPGs since. The way Link improves his power through items rather than leveling up like in most other RPGs is a new concept as well.

There is only a very basic storyline in LoZ, in fact it's almost nonexistent. There is only a little bit of dialog at the end of the game aside from the words of a few sages. Most of the story is found in the instructions manual rather than the game itself. The lack of a storyline isn't too bad since the focus is on gameplay, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt to have some more either.

What's that in the lake?
What's that in the lake?
You can breeze through the game in about five hours if you know where to find all of the items. If you don't have a clue where anything is it might take a good 15 hours to find everything and complete all of the levels. The second quest takes a little longer since the items are guarded more carefully and the dungeons are longer.

LoZ has only a few music themes which get a little repetitive as you near the end of your journey. The music is mostly very well done though and even a little catchy. Since you're going to be listening to the same few themes, it's a good thing that it's good music and not some of the music that sound like bloops and bleeps that the NES is famous for.

Almost the entire game is played with an overhead view so most of the sprites and very small and lack detail. To make matters worse, there is only a small selection of enemies and most of them are used multiple times with a simple re-colored palette. Still, the visuals are relatively average for the year it came out and you can still tell what's going on easily enough.

Legend of Zelda brings a fun new type of gameplay to the RPG genre. An exciting battle system, the use of tools to solve simple puzzles, and collecting tons of powerups help make the first in the Zelda series as fun as it is. Overall, Legend of Zelda is an enjoyable game and I recommend it to anyone, especially Zelda fans.

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