The Legend of Zelda - Review  

The Classic Adventure
by Lucky Melchior

Less than 20 Hours
+ Excellent, innovative battle system.
+ Excellent score.
+ Outstanding replay value
+ Start of a legendary series.
- Underdeveloped story.
- Poor graphics.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   In December of 1987, I woke up Christmas morning to presents under the tree. Among them a few games for my relatively new Nintendo Entertainment System. But, one in particular stood out. A golden box with a shiny golden cartridge inside. This was The Legend of Zelda. A game that I became quickly engrossed in and that endeared itself to my heart for all time.

   The story, as told by the prologue, is that the evil Gannon stole the Triforce of Power. Princess Zelda broke the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and hid them before she was kidnapped by Ganon. Like with most action adventure games the focus is more on combat than story development, but Legend of Zelda takes it to the extreme. There are a few shops and the occasional villager who may give you a hint, but no furtherance of the plot as you gather the eight pieces and go to save Zelda. The story is clearly underdeveloped as the majority of the storytelling takes place in the prologue and in the instruction manual, rather than in-game.

   The musical score is one of the highlights of this game. The prologue introduces the famous zelda theme and despite the "bleeps" and "bloops" of the NES sound system, seems almost orchestrated. A less orchestral version of the theme plays while you navigate the overworld. There are also two different dungeon themes. The lack of variety prevents this excellent score from being outstanding. The sound effects are fairly enjoyable as well. The graphics on the other hand have not aged well at all. The sprites for trees look like little cacti bushes. There are three sprites for the many inhabitants of Hyrule; a merchant, old man and old woman. The color scheme at least is pleasing to the eye, preventing the graphics from being awful.

A Full Inventory A Full Inventory

    This game introduces the famous Zelda battle system. The overworld and dungeons are displayed from a top-down perspective. You encounter enemies in real-time in dungeons and on the overworld. You have a trusty sword that you can hack and slash at enemies with by using the "A" button, as well as a shield to repel certain projectiles. Both your sword and shield can be upgraded as you progress through the game. The innovative aspect is that you can assign one of many different tools to the "B" button. These tools range from bombs, to bow & arrows, to bait to lure enemies away. Another excellent aspect of the gameplay is the puzzle solving elements placed throughout the game. Most dungeons have secret passageways only to be revealed by pushing a certain block or bombing a certain wall. The same can be said of the overworld, many secret caves or shops can be found by burning a bush with a candle or bombing a certain wall. Overall the battle system and gameplay are excellent, innovative and one of the chief reasons to play this game.

Oustanding replay value Oustanding replay value

   The game's interaction and interface are one of it's more mediocre aspects. The menu system itself is simple and effective. Pressing "start" brings up the menu from which you can select which tool you want equipped. However, the actual interface with your character is rather clunky. The interface uses a strict north,south,east and west control interface. While your instinct is often to move diagonally, the interface just doesn't react that way and you often move in a direction you did not intend. Also the localization is awful and it is sometimes difficult to interact with the game when you cannot understand what the text on the screen is saying.

    The Legend of Zelda has excellent replay value. After completing the game you will gain access to a second quest. The second quest takes place on the same map, but many key items and dungeon locations are changed. Moreover, each dungeon is a new, far more difficult dungeon. The first dungeon in the second quest is harder than most of the dungeons in the first quest. Also, the first quest is short and enjoyable enough to replay many times itself.

   I have a hard time rating the difficult of this game. I have been playing this game for over twenty years and can now breeze through the first quest with out much thought. If I think back to when I was a kid, I did need a guide to get through parts, but I was only seven. However, I must acknowledge that there are some key items or places hidden in such obscure areas with little in-game clues, that a guide may be necessary. The second quest on the other hand, to this day still gives me difficulty.

   The Legend of Zelda is a landmark game. It spawned numerous sequels, and prequels, and it's game mechanics have been copied by many games since. While some of it's luster has come off, with some aspects of the game having not aged well, the game is still enjoyable enough to be worth playing in this modern era.

Review Archives

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy