Welcome to Zelda Week. 5 games, 2 reviewers (due to real life activities clashing), and in one week, we'll be taking a look at almost all sides of the spectrum that is The Legend of Zelda. So up first, why don't we take a look at the one that started it all, the original game on the NES, back when people had a better excuse to call Link by the name of Zelda. Sorry people, its like Samus' name not actually being Metroid, or Pit's not actually being Kid Icarus. So, shall we?
Let's start with the plot. Before I actually explain, allow me to show you what the in game one is for the NES version: "MANY YEARS AGO PRINCE DARKNESS "GANNON" STOLE ONE OF THE TRIFORCE WITH
POWER. PRINCESS ZELDA HAD ONE OF THE TRIFORCE WITH WISDOM. SHE DIVIDED
IT INTO 8 UNITS TO HIDE IT FROM "GANNON" BEFORE SHE WAS CAPTURED. GO
FIND THE "8" UNITS "LINK" TO SAVE HER." (That being a copy and paste from Zeldapedia, link here: http://zelda.wikia.com/wiki/The_Legend_of_Zelda/Prologue) Ah, don't you just love the days of localization being limited to the space available in the game. I'm going to go back to that, but here's the actual plot. Gannon, the prince of Darkness, has seized the Triforce of Power and intends to try and get the TriForce of Wisdom from Princess Zelda. Before he can, she breaks the piece of the Triforce into 8 pieces and scatters them across the land of Hyrule. You, as Link, are trusted to put all the pieces back together and use its power to stop Gannon. Each piece is in one of the lands dungeons. As to why I'm not mentioning the third piece, the Triforce of Courage, well, it doesn't exist yet, hence the title. It's simple, and set the stage for how later games would tell their story, but here, its more of an excuse for the game, as like with many NES games, the plot means nothing.
That lovely bit of Engrish writing (that is not meant to be taken literally, it's a joke) comes again throughout the game. The reason for it is because you can say more in Japanese with fewer letters then you can in English. As such, the localization team had to really condense their word choices to fit into the game. Unfortunately though, that can and has led to many times when they've condensed it too much that people playing the game for the first time would have no idea what the heck the game wanted you to do, case in point: "Fetch me the meat from the other side of the map that's hidden with no indication of there being something hidden there" being condensed to "Grumble Grumble". On top of this, the game before localization has a big problem with direction, or lack there of. Once you get the sword, you're on your own. As a tip, if you're playing this game. Get a good map of Hyrule Field, as the in game one is pathetic and doesn't help at all. And if you have doubts about that, saying that "using a map online is cheating", well people used the guide in Nintendo Power to complete the game or word of mouth.
Gameplay wise, if you're familiar with the rest of the series, you know what to expect here. The game uses a top down perspective. D-pad to move, A to use your sword and B to use any item you set to it like bombs, your bow, a raft, a... step ladder? ect. Pretty standard stuff. However what becomes very apparent very quickly is that this game, like many others at the time, still uses the Arcade style of game design. That being the game has many, many, MANY bulls%^t moments in design. Encase it wasn't obvious, this game is 30 years old.
That last one can pretty much sum up the game, the game is good, for its time. But, say it with me, "it has suffered from first game syndrome", something that is only made worse with the memory limitations leading to brutally vague hints that are cryptic to the point of it being impossible to guess without the instruction manual at the absolute least. Brutal enemies in cheep locations, cryptic hints, awkward controls limited to the hardware, and you're looking at something that is at best worth playing for the sake of curiosity, to see how the series started and how far it's grown. At worst, not worth the time playing if you've never played it before. If you don't mind, I think next we should see how Keybug's adventure on the high seas has been going, while I go for a stress reliever. See you soon for more Zelda Week content.