The Legend of Zelda (Game)

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This article is about the first game in the series. For information on the series as a whole, see The Legend of Zelda (Series). For the television program, see The Legend of Zelda (TV series).
The Legend of Zelda (Game)
Loz logo.png
US boxart for The Legend of Zelda
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D 4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto (producer/director)
Takashi Tezuka (director)
Toshihiko Nakago (programmer)
Koji Kondo (sound composer)
Release date FDS release
Japan February 21, 1986

NES release
North America July 29, 1987
Japan February 19, 1994
Europe November 27, 1987

GBA release
North America June 7, 2004
Japan February 14, 2004
Europe July 9, 2004

Wii Virtual Console release
North America November 19, 2006
Japan December 2, 2006
Europe December 8, 2006
Australia December 7, 2006

3DS Virtual Console release (Ambassador Program)
North America August 31, 2011
Japan August 31, 2011
Europe September 1, 2011
Australia September 1, 2011

3DS Virtual Console release
North America July 5, 2012
Japan December 22, 2011
Europe April 12, 2012
Australia April 12, 2012

Wii U Virtual Console release
North America August 29, 2013[1]
Japan August 28, 2013[2]
Europe August 29, 2013[3]
Rating(s) ESRB: E
PEGI: 3Triforce piece.png / 7Triforce piece.png
CERO: A
CB: G
USK: 0


Platform(s) Famicom Disk System, Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Successor Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
StrategyWiki Favicon.png Guide/Walkthrough at StrategyWiki

The Legend of Zelda was the very first Zelda game released. It centers its plot around a boy named Link, who becomes the central protagonist throughout the series. It came out as early as 1986 for the Famicom in Japan, and was later released in the western world, including Europe and the US in 1987. It has since then been re-released several times, for the Nintendo GameCube as well as the Game Boy Advance. The Japanese version of the game on the Famicom is known as The Hyrule Fantasy: The Legend of Zelda.

Contents

Story

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"A long, long time ago the World was in an age of Chaos.

"In the midst of this chaos, in a little kingdom in the land of Hyrule, a legend was being handed down from generation to generation, the legend of the 'Triforce'; golden triangles possessing mystical powers. One day, an evil army attacked this peaceful little kingdom and stole the Triforce of Power. This army was led by Ganon, the powerful Prince of Darkness who sought to plunge the World into fear and darkness under his rule. Fearing his wicked rule, Zelda, the princess of this kingdom, split up the Triforce of Wisdom into eight fragments and hid them throughout the realm to save the last remaining Triforce from the clutches of the evil Ganon. At the same time, she commanded her most trustworthy nursemaid, Impa, to secretly escape into the land and go find a man with enough courage to destroy the evil Ganon. Upon hearing this, Ganon grew angry, imprisoned the princess, and sent out a party in search of Impa."

"Braving forests and mountains, Impa fled for her life from her pursuers. As she reached the very limit of her energy she found herself surrounded by Ganon's evil henchmen. Cornered! What could she do? ... But wait! All was not lost. A young lad appeared. He skillfully drove off Ganon's henchmen, and saved Impa from a fate worse than death."

"His name was Link. During his travels he had come across Impa and Ganon's henchmen. Impa told Link the whole story of the princess Zelda and the evil Ganon. Burning with a sense of justice, Link resolved to save Zelda, but Ganon was a powerful opponent. He held the Triforce of Power. And so, in order to fight off Ganon, Link had to bring the scattered eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom together to rebuild the mystical triangle. If he couldn't do this, there would be no chance Link could fight his way into Death Mountain where Ganon lived."

"Can Link really destroy Ganon and save Princess Zelda?

"Only your skill can answer that question. Good luck. Use the Triforce wisely."[4][5]

Gameplay

Screenshot of gameplay

The game itself introduces a new level of gaming, one that includes roleplaying, action, adventure, and puzzle/logic.

Dungeon Exploration

Barring Link's progress are creatures he must battle to locate the entrances to nine underground dungeons. Each dungeon is a unique, maze-like collection of rooms connected by doors and secret passages and guarded by monsters different from those found on the overworld. Link must successfully navigate each dungeon to obtain one of the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom. Dungeons also conceal useful items, such as a boomerang for retrieving items and stunning enemies and a recorder with magical properties. The first six dungeons have visible entrances, but the remaining three are hidden. Except for the final dungeon, which can't be entered until the previous eight have been completed, the order of completing dungeons is somewhat arbitrary, but many dungeons can only be reached using items gained in the previous one.

Overworld Exploration

Non linearity, the ability to take different paths to complete the game, separated Zelda from its contemporaries. Link can freely wander the overworld, finding and buying items at any point. This flexibility enables unusual ways of playing the game; for example, it's possible to reach the final boss of the game (but not defeat him) without taking a sword. Nintendo of America's management initially feared that players might become frustrated with the new concept, left wondering what to do next. As a result, the American version of the game's manual contains many hints, tips, and suggestions for players.

Second Quest

After completing the game, the player has access to a more difficult quest, officially referred to as the Second Quest, where dungeons and the placement of items are different, with enemies stronger. Although a more difficult "replay" wasn't unique to Zelda, few games offered a "second quest" with entirely different levels to complete. Entering "ZELDA" as the player's name starts the second quest immediately. The Second Quest can be replayed each time it's completed.

Game Information

Japanese Version

The Legend of Zelda was originally released in 1986 as a flagship title for the Famicom Disk System in Japan. Apart from facilitating data saving, the disk drive also added an extra sound channel on top of the Famicom's original five. This has caused the original release to sport a quite different sound compared to the more widespread cartridge release. This difference is most notable during the title screen.

The Book of Magic is known as the Bible in the Japanese version of the game. This was likely changed because it violated Nintendo of America's, at the time, very strict content guidelines which among others disapproved of any religious content or references inside games released for their systems. Interestingly enough, all depictions of the cross were kept intact. Note that the legend of the three Golden Goddesses wasn't mentioned until 1991 in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

The Japanese FDS version was included in a promotional package of Charumera-brand ramen, and was only given out as a prize for a contest. It is unknown what differences this version has compared to the original release, as the only available copies are incredibly expensive.[6]

Graphics and Audio

Being a game designed for storage in a floppy disk, the game's graphics don't use too many elements; sprites are given different color palettes depending on their location in the overworld. For example, trees can be colored either green or orange; brick walls in dungeons are painted blue, green, yellow or white, and so on.

The game features three background themes: the overworld tune, the standard dungeon tune and the final dungeon tune. The first theme has become the franchise's main theme, and it is often reused in other games in the franchise. The dungeon theme is used as the theme for the Royal Crypt in The Minish Cap and in the Color Dungeon in Link's Awakening DX. Sound samples such as the one when Link collects a new item and the one when a new path is open are also often reused in later Zelda games.

The Japanese FDS version of the game utilizes the Disk System's additional frequency-modulation synthesis chip; the music sounds more lifelike as a result.

Setting

With this game being the first in the franchise, it's the first time Hyrule is portrayed, and it's divided into numerous parts and landscapes, such as the Lost Woods, Death Mountain, a central lake, a forest, a graveyard, and a shore; as Link walks through them, he manages to find the hidden labyrinths where the fragments of the Triforce are kept. It's unknown whether or not the nameless regions reappeared in later games with official names.

Unlike most overworlds in the Zelda series, this incarnation of Hyrule is entirely explorable from the beginning, meaning that Link can go to almost any corner and space of it, with a total absence of linearity. It should be noted that the overworld remains largely unchanged in the Second Quest, with the only changes being the locations of the labyrinths and of special prizes.

Timeline Placement

According to the timeline revealed in Hyrule Historia, The Legend of Zelda takes place in the "Downfall" branch, which, in a whole, takes place after The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. After Ganon is defeated in A Link to the Past, the Oracle series and in A Link Between Worlds where Link and Zelda recovered the Triforce from Yuga-Ganon, Hyrule entered 'The Golden Era', in which the wise Hyrule monarchs used the Triforce to govern the land. After the king's death and the attempt of the Prince of Hyrule to assemble the complete Triforce, Hyrule was lead into the 'Era of Decline'. The Prince of Darkness, Ganon was revived, leading to the events of The Legend of Zelda. Immediately following this game, the events of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link take place.

Both this game and its sequel are linked in continuity, since the first game revolves around retrieving two of the major fragments of the Triforce, and Ganon is fought in order to rescue Princess Zelda; the second game revolves around finding the third major fragment in order to revive an incarnation of Zelda that was comatose for a very long time, and to impede the revival of Ganon.

The introduction contains various mistranslations

Mistranslations

The Legend of Zelda is littered with mistranslations, direct word-for-word translations, and odd quotes.

  • The intro story is written poorly, such as saying the "Triforce with power", instead of Triforce of Power. For the GBA and Wii Virtual Console ports, the message was entirely rewritten.
  • This is the first Zelda game in which Ganon is written Gannon. The last time this spelling was used was in the credits for the Japanese release of A Link to the Past.[7]
  • The Old Man is well known for his vagueness in messages. One of his most famous quotations is "DODONGO DISLIKES SMOKE", indicating the Dodongo's weakness to bombs. Another odd quote is "DIGDOGGER HATES CERTAIN KINDS OF SOUND".
  • The list of items is titled "all of treasures". The "of" was omitted in subsequent re-releases.
  • When Link pays the Old Woman behind the waterfall, she will tell him to go "Up, up, up, the mountaintop." This was corrected to "up, the mountain ahead". This refers to the path to the Lizard.
Pseudonyms are used in the credits

Credits

In the credits, all but the executive producer Hiroshi Yamauchi are listed under pseudonyms. Designer Takashi Tezuka is credited as "Ten Ten," sound composer Koji Kondo as "Konchan," programmer I. Marui as "Marumaru." At the time, nicknames were commonly used among Japanese game developers as a company measure against employee poaching.[8][9]

Producer and director Shigeru Miyamoto is listed as "S. Miyahon," a mistranscription of his name - 本 can be read as either "moto" or "hon."[9] This is widely believed to be another error in translation.[10] However, in a leaked prototype of the game, many of the staff - including Miyamoto - were credited under their real names.[11] The pseudonym "Miyahon" was thus chosen deliberately for the final release.

Completion Records

Main article: Speedrun Records
Time Performer Date Notes
30:37 [12] Darkwing Duck August 30, 2014 Any% (Quest 1)
36:45 [13] Darkwing Duck January 20, 2014 Any% (Quest 2)

Listings

Characters

Bosses

Enemies

Dungeons

Items

Credits

Glitches

Hacks

Reception

Sales

The Legend of Zelda was commercially successful, selling 6.5 million copies worldwide and being the fourth best-selling Nintendo Entertainment System game of all time;[14] it's also the second best-selling Zelda game to date, the best seller being Ocarina of Time, which sold 7.6 million copies.

Reviews

IGN journalist Craig Harris awarded the Game Boy Advance version of the game with an 8.0 out of 10, praising its faithful adaptation from the original version;[15] Damien McFerran from Nintendolife gave the Virtual Console version (Wii) the same score, praising the length and the complexity of the quest.[16] Nintendojo staff, when reviewing the GCN edition (Collector's Edition) praised the game for its "innovative and unique gameplay system, remarkably deep puzzle solving, and an epic score".[17] Nintendo Power, in the December 2009 issue, placed the game third in the list of best The Legend of Zelda games, citing its influence on gaming industry and praising its gameplay.

Fan Reception

The game received support from the player community as well. It currently holds an average user score of 9.1 at GameSpot,[18] as well as a current average reader score of 9.1 at IGN.[19]

Ports and Remakes

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A remake of the original game, BS The Legend of Zelda, was broadcast via the BS-X Broadcasting System. The gameplay is similar to the original, but there are some key differences. BS The Legend of Zelda is different from most other Zelda games as the game's central heroes are actually supposed to be the mascot characters of the BS-X Broadcasting System, and are otherwise supposed to be based on the player as the character's name and gender is based off of the broadcasting ID. The male character wears a green tunic, though others are later available, and a backwards baseball cap. The female character has long red hair and is otherwise almost exactly the same as the male.

In 2003, Nintendo released a bundle for the GameCube which included Collector's Edition, in which this game was playable.

In that same year, Nintendo released Animal Crossing for the GameCube; the game featured many emulated NES games, though some are inaccessible without a cheating device. The Legend of Zelda is one such unobtainable game.

The Game Boy Advance also saw a port of the game as part of Nintendo's "Classic NES Series" re-releases. The game suffers from the same occasional lag present in the original NES release, as it is an emulated version. When Nintendo launched the Wii, The Legend of Zelda was a launch title in the Virtual Console service. The game became available on August 31, 2011 as one of the games eligible for free download over the Virtual Console as part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program, a service available to players who bought a 3DS before its price dropped on August 11, 2011.[20] It was later released to the public through the Virtual Console service on July 5, 2012. The 3DS version has the original mistranslations instead of the proper translations.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a feature in which the player can play short demos of classic games (called "Masterpieces" in-game; a player may only play a Masterpiece for up to 5 minutes, depending on the game). The Legend of Zelda is offered as one of the Masterpieces. Gameplay time is limited to 2 minutes, which is enough time to explore a small part of the Overworld.

Legacy

The Legend of Zelda is the first installment in the Zelda franchise, and its success allowed the development of sequels. In one or another way, nearly every title in the series is influenced by this game in such ways as:

  • The distinction between an overworld and a dungeon, as well as the need of traveling across the former to enter the latter, and to clear the latter to take a further step to the game's completion.
  • The use of items to progress on the adventure, be it to beat enemies more easily or to open new ways and solve puzzles.
  • The introduction of Link, Princess Zelda and Ganon.
  • The introduction of the first two fragments of the Triforce.
  • The introduction of a number of recurring locations (e.g. Lost Woods and Death Mountain) and items.
  • The presence of a Second Quest (although very few subsequent games reused this concept).

The Moblin's quote "It's a secret to everybody" has become a popular meme among gamers over the years. It is first referenced in A Link to the Past when Link brings a chest to a man who stands next to a sign outside of the desert. He offers to open the chest under the condition that Link will "keep it secret from everyone else". It is also referenced in Ocarina of Time. If Link bribes the guard at the gate of Hyrule Castle, speaking after he opens the gate will result in him saying "KEEP IT A SECRET TO EVERYBODY." And in Majora's Mask, after talking to Kafei in his home behind the curiosity shop, he says "Keep what we just talked about a secret from everybody". It is even referenced in Twilight Princess when in Center Castle Town, Link can enter a door and walk up to a balcony, where a Goron sees the golden force around Hyrule Castle. He admits that he has kept it "a secret to everybody."

Trivia

  • It is possible (although quite difficult) to make it through the game up until the final boss without a Sword, although once Ganon is reached, the player must have a Sword to damage him.
  • The last dungeon is over half the size of the entire overworld. If the entrance to the dungeon were placed directly on Spectacle Rock, the resulting world shape would be an L.
  • This is one of the only games where Link can only have a maximum of 16 hearts, the other 2 being Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks.
  • Most Legend of Zelda cartridges are gold, but there are very rare late releases of the game in standard grey cartridges.

Gallery

Illustrations

Box Art

Game Boy Advance Version


Cartridge and Logos


American Ad #1

American Ad #2

Japanese Ad

References

  1. NINTENDO DOWNLOAD HIGHLIGHTS NEW DIGITAL CONTENT FOR NINTENDO SYSTEMS - AUG. 29, 2013, Nintendo Pressroom.
  2. Wii U|ゼルダの伝説|Nintendo, Nintendo.
  3. The Legend of Zelda | NES | Games | Nintendo, Nintendo UK.
  4. The Legend of Zelda manual, pp. 3–4
  5. Translation of The Legend of Zelda manual
  6. Legends of Localization: The Legend of Zelda - Miscellaneous
  7. "GANNON'S TOWER." — Credits (A Link to the Past -- Japanese Version)
  8. The Legend of Zelda: First Quest, Legends of Localization, retrieved November 15, 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "In early U.S. releases of a few Mario games, he was sometimes credited as "Miyahon", a mistranscription of the kanji in his name (本 — which can be read as either hon or moto). The misread surname was Miyamoto's development nickname in the 1980s (having a nickname was a common practice among Japanese game developers at the time)."Shigeru Miyamoto biography, Mario Mayhem, retrieved November 15, 2013.
  10. Mistranslation in The Legend of Zelda, Zelda Dungeon, published December 22, 2012, retrieved November 15, 2013.
  11. Proto:The Legend of Zelda, The Cutting Room Floor, retrieved November 15, 2013.
  12. The Legend of Zelda - Any% (Quest 1), no Up+A warps or deaths, TwitchTV.
  13. The Legend of Zelda - Any% (Quest 2), no Up+A warps, TwitchTV.
  14. RPGamer - Japandemonium: Xenogears vs. Tetris
  15. Classic NES Series: The Legend of Zelda Review at IGN
  16. The Legend of Zelda (NES) Game Review
  17. Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition review
  18. The Legend of Zelda User Reviews for NES - GameSpot
  19. IGN: The Legend of Zelda
  20. Official Nintendo Website - Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program


Forest minish.png Names in Other Regions Jabber Nut MC.gif
Language Name Meaning
Japanese Japan THE HYRULE FANTASY ゼルダの伝説
ゼルダの伝説
The Hyrule Fantasy: The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda
German Germany The Legend of Zelda
Korean South Korea 젤다의 전설 (Jeldaui Jeonseol) Zelda Legend
Chinese Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau (Traditional Chinese) 薩爾達傳說 Zelda Legend
Mainland China (Simplified Chinese) 塞尔达传说 Zelda Legend

Games in The Legend of Zelda Series

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Main Series GamesSpin-Off GamesOther Games