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Nostalgia 101: The Wonders of the 90s: Zelda: the original

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 21:02

The first ever Zelda game, “The Legend of Zelda,” was released in 1986 in Japan and was a huge hit. It was huge not in the sense that it was immensely popular, which it was selling 6.5 million copies (more than any other NES game), but in the sense that, for a video game in the 80s, the map and length of the game were beyond expectations.

I’ve played through it and it is frustratingly difficult to the point where it really isn’t even that fun. Playing it was more for the sake of the pride of finishing it. The game however laid important groundwork for future games and the first Zelda game of the 90s, “A Link to the Past”.

“A Link to the Past” originally released for the Super Nintendo, was the last console Zelda game in aerial view, much like the first game. Once Nintendo 64 came out and “Ocarina of Time” became the instant favorite with its third person view and extensive controls and maneuvering, aerial view Zelda games got sidelined to handheld consoles.

Don’t get me wrong, that was the right move, and “Ocarina of Time” is one of my favorite games of all time, but it is a completely different game than “A Link to the Past.” The major differences between styles are in the top-down view you can only really face four directions, which gets frustrating at times, but it did make it easier for aiming ranged weapons.

It also made it easier to see around corners so enemies wouldn’t take you by surprise. More importantly, there were corners as opposed to the original title in which every dungeon was just a series of square rooms with different obstacles and enemies inside.

If you have ever played the two games that came before “A Link to the Past,” you have noticed the scarcity of recovery hearts compared to every other Zelda game which made the games much more difficult. “A Link to the Past” was the first one to have a reasonable amount of hearts, mostly because the dungeons were so much longer and more elaborate as compared to the precursors.

I now want to take a second to ask a question that has always bothered me. Why is this game called “A Link to the Past?” For a Zelda game, there is virtually no time travel whatsoever. The dark world you eventually travel to is not past nor future, or at least indicated so, but rather just another dimension of sorts.

I guess the argument can be made that the character you play as is part of the bloodline of the hero, which is why he was chosen to save Hyrule, but that doesn’t satisfy me to the point where the title is justified.

Recently Nintendo released “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds,” which would have made a much better title for “A Link to the Past.” Consequently, the game is the sequel to “A Link to the Past,” though I haven’t played it.

Obviously I’m a huge Zelda nerd. If you are too and just want to talk about it or enjoy my occasional tweets on the matter, follow me @GiGantoss.


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