I don’t think there are many NES kids out there that don’t have distinct memories of playing The Legend of Zelda back in the 80’s. The Legend of Zelda was the groundbreaking open world adventure that introduced Link, Princess Zelda and Gannon to the Nintendo Universe. More importantly, it established the NES as a groundbreaking gaming platform for open world adventure games that were too large and expansive to complete in one sitting. A battery in the cartridge itself allowed players to save their progress so they could pick it back up if they needed to stop playing to do homework, go to school or go to bed. Mundane activities for kids that were as addicted to Legend of Zelda as I was, certainly had no interest in.
My earliest memories of The Legend of Zelda revolve around the first commercials that Nintendo put out to promote the game. One in particular I recall showed a seemingly deranged man blurting out the names of the various enemies, “Octorocks!”, “Tektites!”, “Leevers!” while briefs clips of Link wandering around Hyrule were interspersed. My first impression of the game was “WTF?” Eventually, I began to hear things about Zelda from friends that had their Nintendo’s a few months before me and by the time I got my Nintendo in Dec of 1987, I was starting to warm up to the idea of getting the Legend of Zelda for myself. I believe I finally got my own copy as an Easter gift in 1988 and by then, I knew enough kids with the game to already have an idea of how to play. Thankfully, I didn’t know all the secrets before I even got to own my copy. The best part of playing The Legend of Zelda through for the first time was the sense of discovery. There was so much to see and so much to do that my initial feeling of being overwhelmed by the game soon turned into a sense of awe as it all started to click. The overworld Hyrule map that came with the game quickly became filled with notes of locations to bomb, where to use the candle to burn bushes, locations of heart containers, locations of dungeons, etc. It ended up being a hieroglyphic filled cheat sheet for future playthroughs. Mistakes that were made the first time around were corrected for the next time. The order of which to gain the items and when to enter the various dungeons were soon established. Once Gannon was defeated, the second quest kept me challenged for another several months after which was a brilliant idea by Nintendo that was started with the 2nd quest in Super Mario Bros and perfected here in my opinion.
The copy of the Legend of Zelda in my collection is the original copy I owned as a kid. Unfortunately, the map is long gone, fallen apart from so much use as a kid. I probably saw it as a tattered, torn eyesore and disposed of it. Thankfully I still have the manual and box but getting the map back is something I strive to do for collection completeness. The Legend of Zelda remains my all time favorite NES game for the way it created a world for you to literally and figuratively get lost in. I will always remember the game and the way it introduced me to and hooked me on any adventure featuring Link.
Currently in my collection: 2 copies of the game (my original gold version plus gray “classics” version), manual, box
Wish list: Hyrule overworld map