2016 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most popular game series with Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説ゼルダのでんせつ; Zeruda no Densets) and beloved game characters, the legendary adventurer Link (リンク). A character counting to the inner most circle of the expansive Nintendo line of heroes. Time to write a little tribute on this iconic game and its courageous hero!
Technically, the birthday is already passed, since the release of the 1st Legend of Zelda was on February 21st, 1986, in Japan, however, since the game premiered only the following year in my region, I think it’s still appropriate for a post – better late than never😉. Also, since we are not too far away from the latest installment of the series with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (ゼルダの伝説 ブレス オブ ザ ワイルド; for the Wii U platform) that is set for 2017 and eagerly awaited by fans of the franchise, the timing is actually not too bad.
Like Super Mario (スーパーマリオ), Donkey Kong (ドンキーコング), Star Fox (スターフォックス) and other acclaimed game characters, Link, a humble, yet valiant young fellow of the elfish-looking Hylian Race (ハイリア族・ハイリアぞく), was created by video game designer and Nintendo senior executive Miyamoto Shigeru (宮本 茂・みやもと しげる). Together with his other virtual companions, Link has largely contributed to the sky-rocking and lasting success of Nintendo. Usually the release of a Legend of Zelda game alone justifies a purchase of a new gaming console. This was true for the Nintendo 64 with Ocarina of Time (ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ), one of the most popular games ever, and could apply again for the Nintendo Wii U with Breath of the Wild.
As many of Nintendo’s most adored characters, Link debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System (Short NES; Family Computer or Famicom in Japanese; ファミコン) in the mid 80’s, the hour of birth of one of the most celebrated consoles to date that should inaugurate Nintendo’s dominance and lead in the gaming industry for the next or so decade – literally a game changer. Games were churned out that should put a whole generation under a spell and still hold a special nostalgia in the hearts of many to this very day. I guess, I’m one of those and since my prolonged stay in Japan a few years ago, all those memories and affections were re-kindled. I like to dwell in those memories and I must say, boy we had a great time!
While the NES was a sensation all the way, the original Legend of Zelda, which I’m going to mostly cover with this post because of the 30th anniversary, was revolutionary in itself. It was the first game with a system that let you save scores and unlike its predecessors, such as Super Mario among others, which worked mainly from left to right with the game play, Legend of Zelda allowed players to navigate adventurer Link vertically and horizontally in all directions of the screen, roaming almost freely the fictional lands of Hyrule (ハイラル) in search of Princess Zelda (ゼルダ姫・ゼルダひめ) and the Triforce (トライフォース; three powers). Not to mention, the inventory feature, too, was unprecedented as you stop by at the iconic Potion Shops to gear up before the next looming quest into the reign of a treating enemy to engage in an epic underworld boss fight. The life-inhaling fairies made a truly magical affair.
While steering Link, equipped with his signature sword and shield, through different corners of the open world of Hyrule, you gather various mystic objects with magical powers, diamonds and other treasures along the way. Monstrous creatures lure at every corner and after slashing your way through hordes of enemies, you got to defeat vicious end bosses with the help of different strategies. As you defeat one evil after the other, the puzzle of the story sets itself together and you approach the showdown to face off against the main antagonist, Ganon (ガノン). A villain to give you and Link a hard time over and over again in the sequels of the series from rescuing Princess Zelda of his clutches and to re-establish peace in the kingdom of Hyrule.
As you go on exploring and become to see through the game of evildoer Ganon, who seeks the divine Triforce as much as you do to consolidate his powers, a gripping soundtrack carries you through the open steppes and forests of the over-world. You enter dungeons, the music turns into different tones of melancholy or gloom, perfectly capturing the menace as you follow Link ever deeper into the gauge of darkness to take on a next major opponent.
Kondou Koji (近藤 浩治・こんどう こうじ; Kondō Kōji) made one hell of a composition that draws you right into the game. It’s so brilliant that even when you switch off that console of yours, you catch yourself humming that sound long after. His compositions are so well respected that they sometimes find their ways into concert halls, when orchestras fiddle and trumpete the elating music to electrify the audience with its charm. Also the sound effects as you open a chest to hive a treasured object like a heart piece, blow up a bomb to free a hidden path or the swirling sound after you lost all your heart life energy, come vividly alive in a gamer’s mind. It’s yet another aspect to make this game all the more great.
Legend of Zelda contains all the elements of a true classic and the whole line of games accomplishes something not many long-running series achieve to do, in that every release represents a keenly anticipated highlight. It’s not only one of the longest running series out there, even after 30 years it manages to stun the gaming community anew with each new adventure that invite for many hours of play.
It’s Japanese game making at its finest, cute and with adventure role-playing that contains of caringly developed story-lines that is realized into every detail of the games and plenty of puzzle solving, for it RPG has always been the calling card of Japanese video games. Careful observers will also notice numerous cultural references that are reflected for example in the use of nature with large, deified trees and other objects of worship, various character designs, not least so the piece at heart of the game with the three golden triangles, the Triforce that represent the qualities of power, wisdom and courage.
This is my humble tribute to Legend of Zelda. Not much new I could contribute, but I hope you enjoyed following me on my ride through the past. While writing the post, it revived many cherished memories for me and hopefully it did the same for you.
To shorten the wait for the newest release you can resort to some retro gaming with the Nintendo Classic Mini: NES (ニンテンドークラシックミニ ファミリーコンピュータ), on which the first two titles Zelda I: The Legend of Zelda (ゼルダの伝説・ぜるだのでんせつ; Zelda no Densetsu) & Zelda II: Adventure of Link (リンクの冒険・リンクのぼうけん; Rinku no Bouken) can be found or you can stack up on your fan collectibles. No one knows it better than the Japanese themselves how to worthily celebrate their beloved virtual icons, there is a number of goodies and limited merchandise that has been and will be released just this December such as the Legend of Zelda amiibo series or pixely, cuddly plush cushions by Sanei Boeki Trading, a company specializing in the manufacturing of game merchandise:
Sanei Boueki Legend of Legend of Zelda Plush Cushions: Release Date December 10th, 2016
amiibo Nintendo Figurine – The Legend of Zelda Series: Release Date December 1st, 2016
The best for last with the Zelda Game Music Collection (Release Date: September 28th, 2016) and the Hyrule Graphics Illustration Book (Release Date: August 26th, 2016) both in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Legend of Zelda. Treats not to be missed in a true fan’s collection:
More cool stuff and all things Legend of Zelda and Link you can find over at amazon.co.jp, visit here HERE. If you don’t how it works with the shopping on the marketplace, please take a look at my side page of MyLittle Shopping Street.
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- Edition: First release: December 10th, 2016
- Edition: Clean-up: December 22nd, 2016