I can’t believe I missed marking the 30th anniversary of a gaming legend, especially one that I personally have invested a lot of time and heart into over the years. I can’t believe The Legend of Zelda is actually 30 – I really can’t!
The Zelda series has to be my all time favourite saga when it comes to video games. My opinions are bound to break ranks with other Zelda fans when it comes to certain titles, but I can honestly say I have found most of the games to be immersive adventures on a scale few other games can match, and a new Zelda game is something to be hotly anticipated in my house!
My first taste of Zelda was with the SNES installment, A Link to the Past, which is still my favourite (as well as one of my all-time favourite games full-stop). It wasn’t as linear as current Zelda games, offering a semi-flexible approach to the order in which you tackled dungeons and challenges, and the depth to the game (especially when you stop to consider the technology it was made with) was astonishing. A Link to the Past is where my love of Zelda began, so I owe this game a debt of gratitude!
The original Zelda game is one I discovered a bit later on, and whilst I dare say it’s enjoyable, I have never quite gotten into it. The completely open-ended approach, and the numerous hidden caves, are a masterful touch, one that (if rumours are to be believed) the next Zelda game might be trying to emulate a little. The second Zelda installment, The Adventures of Link, is one I tried to get into, but just didn’t enjoy.
Ocarina of Time (the first of two N64 offerings) is often rated by fans as the finest Zelda game, and it certainly is very good. The story is quite compelling, the game is great fun to play and it really does feel epic in scope. Whilst it is not the very best to me, it’s still great!
The sequel, Majora’s Mask, is another title held up as being a marvelous game, but to be honest, I didn’t really like it. I never got the whole time travel element, which frankly just confused me (nor was I thrilled with the mask element). I will admit, I didn’t really play this one that often, so maybe I need to revisit it and give it another chance.
For the Gamecube, Nintendo went for a completely different look for The Wind Waker, abandoning the slightly more grown up look of the games for a more cartoony approach. The appearance divided fans a little, but I didn’t mind it – in fact, I thought the game looked good. I would argue The Wind Waker has the toughest final boss of any Zelda game.
Not to give the hand-held games short shrift, I will mention that Link’s Awakening (which I have never gotten around to completing) and The Minish Cap are both good games.
The Wii would see two Zelda titles – the launch title of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Between the two, I prefer Skyward Sword, though the latter has some of the most frustrating (and in my view, unnecessary) tropes of any Zelda game (the Silent Realm sequences). Both games are quite beautiful, though Skyward Sword shows off the Motion Plus feature of the Wii Remote, allowing for more actually sword play. Both titles are, like all Zelda games, filled with dungeons, but both suffer from the problem modern Zelda games have – rigid, linear progression through the levels. It would be nice to have a little more control over how you face the dungeons and quests.
The Zelda games have left an indelible mark upon me. There is so much adventure to be had, across each and every game, and despite the problem of linear progress in the later games, there are still plenty of side quests and challenges to explore. I look forward to the next offering!