Retro Profile: The Legend of Zelda (NES)

by Nicholas Roussos

The first Nintendo game that I ever saw was The Legend of Zelda. I was at a cousin’s house, and he showed me how you could use a bomb to blow a hole in the wall. I even remember that it was the second dungeon. I was hooked on this game from the first time I saw it. The Legend of Zelda introduced so many paradigms that are central to videogames even today; it’s worth playing again just to see them in their original setting.

In the Legend of Zelda, just like life, you start with nothing. You receive your first weapon, the wooden sword, from an old man. This gift sets the pace for much of the game. You are constantly exploring and discovering while receiving advice and gifts from old men wearing reddish-orange robes. The plethora of items that you collect are just as varied as the ways you collect them. Whether it’s the raft you obtained in the a dungeon or a boomerang you took from a strong opponent, The Legend of Zelda gives you items that you are excited to be able to use again and again. Some items like the White Sword, you have to pass an unspoken test to receive. Others can be purchased at the many stores you find along your way.

With eight dungeons, a large over-world map, and tons of secrets, The Legend of Zelda strikes a prefect balance. You find yourself exploring for the simple enjoyment of sights like the rolling slopes of Death Mountain. Cryptic clues are given throughout. Hidden dwellings abound under bushes, behind rock walls, and even in a lake.

Stay or Play? This retro game is one that still evicts enormous emotion. It’s more than retro; it’s classic. If you’ve never played The Legend of Zelda, play before you touch another game. If you have played it, don’t think you should stay. It’s worth revisiting from time to time. When I lost power for six days after Hurricane Katrina, I happened to have a copy for my GBA. It had a way of making my wait for electricity into an epic battle of good versus evil.