The Legend of Zelda
Zelda is the most famous saga of action JRPGs. The first game of the saga, released for NES, is for sure well known up to this day.
Maybe it’s not the best Zelda. Probably, A Link to The Past for SNES is the best title and there are other contenders, but still is a great classic game and my favorite Zelda even if it’s because of nostalgia factor. By the way, Breath of the Wild isn’t the best Zelda by far as media seems to state, they messed up many things with that game.
- The game has a big overworld map and you’re totally free to explore it from start. You didn’t needed to explore everything to pass the game but it was nice to do.
- Even if the overworld is a core aspect, the game is actually centered on dungeon crawling. In fact, the key to Zelda success was to mix both. But regarding dungeons:
- Every dungeon feels unique in one way or another.
- The dungeon design was and is great. Simple in puzzle and mechanics, but effective.
- The game was nicely implemented. Most games from 80’s aren’t so nice to play today, but the original Zelda is playable even today.
- The Zelda NES manual was totally awesome. Great art! Good introducing into the game with minor spoilers. A bit confusing too, but that was part of its charm as you had to discover things by yourself. Best NES manual for sure, even better than SMB3.
- The fixed camera, scrolling only when moving map sectors, was a good idea. That was discarded on most Zelda games (I can only recall Link’s Awakening sharing the mechanic) but it’s a fine mechanic for a 2D game and it’s great for dungeon rooms as it’s also done in The Binding of Isaac.
- The game difficulty curve is perfect. Difficulty usually grows on every new level, during first quest.
- The game starts again after you finish the first quest. It seems to be the same again, but it isn’t. The second quest is harder, the dungeons are hidden and they’re more confusing. All secrets caves and shops are tweaked.
- Good variety of enemies, with the right amount of challenge. The enemies also were cool… to be honest, they had strange names (I wonder what was at their minds at the moment 😅) but otherwise, very cool.
- The game tends to be mysterious as it gives little bit information, with cryptic texts. It’s a bit forced and awkward, for today standards, but it did the trick.
- Good graphics/audio for NES:
- Graphics looked good enough, beautiful sprites.
- Music was good for a NES game. It was not annoying even if melodies repeated a lot. The title theme is famous to up this day.
- Some bosses are actually easier that many regular rooms, as their challenge was to figure out how to kill them (like Dodongo, which was far easier to kill than cleaning the magic boomerang room). It was almost the pre-internet era, so it was fine, but for today we need harder bosses.
- Looking for hidden places could be quite a feat with 8 bombs or with just the blue candle. I think I bombed literally like half of map. Not in a row, of course, but without a guide could be grindy because you knew there could be a cave “anywhere”.
- There is no story (outside of manual) and no chat with NPCs, just a phrase here and there. There is no excuse for that, even if it’s an action driven game, as far as is a RPG it should be able to tell a story during the quest, as other games did back on the day. The Binding of Isaac also lacks chat, like TLoZ, but there is a story told, uncovered with every game end.
- The game is a bit plain on mechanics. There aren’t so much things to do. There are only a handful of items to use and their uses are actually very limited.
- The Legend of Zelda was a great game. But Miyamoto never acknowledged he copied the Hydlide game mechanics and pretended to just create it from scratch. Hydlide was a crappy game so… well… good he copied and improved it.
Why to play?
Nostalgia is a good reason to play The Legend of Zelda again. Of course, the first quest should be easy for any seasoned player. Maybe a better reason would be to pass the second quest? Or to discover the saga root if you never played it before? It’s a good game and it has aged very good even after so many years, so you can play it and have fun.
How to acquire
The original game was released for Nintendo 3DS in the Ultimate NES Remix. The game could be downloaded digitally on Nintendo eShop with the Nintendo Switch online subscription service.
But, more important, the game has been remade for PC from scratch, by fans. It’s currently released for Windows but in the future could be released for Linux too. Get Zelda Classic here.
Version / Platform
I’m reviewing Zelda Classic, port/remake of The Legend of Zelda. The version 2.55 works perfectly fine. It’s a good port and it’s free, so there is no reason to no play it.
Zelda Classic also is modable, so you can play (or create) custom quests with the quest editor. Just use “zlaunch” to configure Zelda Classic or launch Zelda Quest (the editor).
Please note that The Legend of Zelda is not an abandoned software. But Zelda Classic is opensource and freeware. Just feel free to choose the version you are more comfortable with.
Recently, a remake was released for Link’s Awakening, the Zelda title for the Gameboy console. It’s been released for Nintendo Switch and it was needed, given the original game has aged badly (as most Gameboy games other than SML2).
But for the classic The Legend of Zelda for NES, is there a reason for any remake? There is a port in PC for those players who won’t get their hands on modern Nintendo hardware. The vanilla game looks good enough and it can be played on a Switch, Wii U or DS too. So, nope, I don’t think there won’t be future remakes for the classic Zelda.
I think that Nintendo would remake A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time before considering any other title. And, to be honest, the classic Zelda wasn’t very deep content wise.
Games like The Legend of Zelda
Similar top-down action RPGs:
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The SNES sequel is similar in concept to the original game and totally worth it.
The Binding of Isaac. This game follows a similar dungeon crawling concept, but there is no overworld, so you keep going down levels. The biggest difference is that every game is randomized. There are multiple characters and hundreds of items. It’s a hard game, full of secrets, very re-playable. A mature game, be ready to blow your mind.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. The sequel of TBOI, it’s a much better game and you should play this version. It’s on PC and all consoles, including Nintendo Switch and 3DS.
Ittle Dew 2+. Look very similar too.
There are other action RPGs that are more on the hack-and-slash or more on the RPG side, but all of them share their good doses of action:
Vampire, the Masquerade.
Path of Exile.
The Legend of Zelda is a nice game. It’s totally playable both on PC and Nintendo consoles and it’s a good game for a quick quest if you’re experienced, or for a retro game if it’s your first time.