Why Smash Bricks When You Can Shoot from da Sword Tip?


When I was presented with this opportunity to write about "da Old Skool" I severely wracked my brain about which game to leadoff with.  Super Mario Brothers, for the NES, I thought would be the obvious first choice, but the more I thought about it, the more I did not like the idea one bit.  It was too vanilla, too predictable, and the more I thought about the game itself, the less remarkable I found it.  Sure, it has the original most recognizable icon in Mario and was pretty much guaranteed to be a part of anyone’s Nintendo gaming experience, however, for my first choice I went with The Legend of Zelda and that bright, shiny, gold cartridge.  In the end it was like choosing between chess and checkers…needless to say, chess is on the menu. 

Zelda gold cartridge

From this golden cartridge spawned the beginning of one of the most successful video game series of all time.  Out popped three of the more recognizable characters in the video gaming community in Link, Princess Zelda and the Evil Gannon.  At one point there was even a cartoon based on the game which was shown every Friday in place of a Super Mario show.  Although the Mario show was good, the Legend of Zelda cartoon was awesome.  I was so obsessed with the cartoon that I would force my parents to record it every Friday. But enough about the superfluous, lets get to the actual game.   

[flash width="425" height="344"]http:/www.youtube.com/v/sdYKBRcpJHk&hl=en&fs=1[/flash]

Pound for pound when you compare it to the other big titles at the time (i.e. Metroid, Kid Icarus, Punch Out!!, R.C Pro AM, Wizards and Warriors), none of these games reflect the ingenuity that the Legend of Zelda possessed.  The first thing I would say about this game is that it is HUGE!  This game comes with a massive overworld and nine underground mazes. Both above and below there were loads of hidden rooms that would open usually with a burn, a bomb, or a push.  The item list was also very large.  In Mario all I got was a damn star, mushroom or flower, but in TLZ I was shooting arrows, burning, bombing, rafting, fluting, and I even first learned what a boomerang was thanks to this game (and I would throw it with precision all over the place grabbing coins and stunning enemies along the way).  I found the rings extremely fascinating and I loved how each ring changed the look of Link and all the items that you had.  The best part of the game had to be that you could shoot from your sword from the get go.  In Super Mario it took so much work just to get fireballs that did not even shoot straight.  In TLZ, if you had full health, then you had firepower and firepower was pretty damn cool.       

I found this game to be extremely playable even after beating the first world over and over again. I never finshed the second quest, although I did get about halfway through, before I grew tired of repeated death.  As I continued to run through the first world over and over again I basically knew every secret along with the fastest way to the strongest sword.  There were at least two occasions where classmates actually gave me their games with the request I get them every item.   


The Legend of Zelda

Of all the monsters that I destroyed with childish joy, nothing killed me over and over again like the damn "Blue Darknut" which my mother renamed "Tin Heads." Anybody who remembers anything about the 5th dungeon knows what i’m talking about.

Even as this game began to show its age, I still found it a game worth revisiting.  I probably could drop Fallout 3 and pick up TLZ right now and still enjoy what it has to offer.  It’s all about the quality, not the cheap thrill and when it came to The Legend of Zelda the gold on the outside of the cartridge truly reflected the gold on the inside. 

Here’s a look at the entire overworld just to give you an idea of the size of this game (click to enlarge)


Legend of Zelda map


A side note on my Game-a-Phobia 

Although I did not properly introduce my game-a-phobia, if you had a chance to read my first article you may have noticed my Space Fury rant.  It is very hard to explain but especially when I was young, many of the games I loved I also feared.  Zelda was certainly no different.  There were two elements that as a four year old creeped me out.  These elements were not as traumatic as my Space Fury hell, but when I go back to the first moments of exposure I still remember the chill I felt. 


Legend of Zelda


The intro music, for whatever reason, scared the shit out of me the first time I saw the game.  Even when I began to play the game I would immediately press start so that I would not have to hear the music anymore than I had to. Something about that music felt large and overwhelming to my four year old psyche and I tried to never play the game alone.  The other thing was when at your death you would heard Ganon’s creepy laugh, followed by annoying piercing death music as you decided to Save, Retry, or Continue (if I remember correctly)  If you do decide to go back and play this game, try not to rip your ears off after you die….this is a warning!!!


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Author: George Brandes View all posts by

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