For me, there is one video game that stands the test of time more than any other: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. As the subtitle is a crucial part to the game’s storyline, the game itself is a crucial link to my childhood, which largely consisted of Saturday morning cartoons, Wrestle Mania and weekend sleepovers. Not only were times much simpler for an 11 year old me, but the games themselves seemed better built and a lot more fun to play’like Tim Burton telling a colorful story; not Michael Bay just blowing stuff up.
Those were the days.
Now that I’m much older and have a wife, kids, and a career that keeps me busy, it’s hard for me to find the time to get deeply involved in video games. I still play them, but at a much more casual pace. Twenty minutes here and there keep me tied to the industry, but deep down I long for the days of pretending to be sick so mom would let me stay home from school so I could play games all day while sipping gag-inducing cough medicine. It just so happens that every few years I get to step into a parallel world and relive my childhood.
My best friend and I have an ongoing tradition to get together and do nothing but play Zelda. We once had a goal of beating every Zelda game ever made. The newer Zeldas keep us from attaining that goal due to their length, so we focus on the the pre-N64 Zeldas that are as timeless today as the first day we fired them up. Just this last week, he called me up to play Zelda. He too is married with children, but his wife would be out of town for the week and was taking their new baby along. So I got the “OK” from my wife to spend a Friday evening reminiscing and playing Zelda at his house into the night.
First stop, Chinese takeout and cream sodas. After that, we headed back to his place and fired up A Link to the Past on the old Super Nintendo. From the opening title screen to the last boss battle, I was 11 again. I completely forgot that I had pressing deadlines at work on Monday and the responsibilities of raising small children seemed secondary for just a few hours. Like riding a bike for the first time, all those vivid memories of staying up all night doped up on pixy sticks and Jolt soda came rushing to my mind’the button combinations and hidden secrets still ingrained in my memories.
After playing into the early hours of morning, I headed back home and into the present. I slipped into bed and caught a few hours sleep, before waking to kids jumping on the bed. I was home again, but this time I was refreshed and rejuvenated. All because of a video game that’s never forgotten what too many other games overlook: fun.