Zelda: A View from the Towers of Hyrule Castle
When I was asked to write this article I thought 'this should be ok, it might be a little different to what I usually write but it shouldn’t be any harder…should it?' Well I didn't really think that through did I because it really is starting to look harder than I thought?
Originally we, myself and our Editors, had an Idea for an anniversary article but this year is the 34th Anniversary and that wouldn’t quiet make sense, so then I the Editors said, 'look at it how you think is best'.
That turned out to be tougher because I have only had a few experiences of Zelda despite having played games for some 40 years; most of this time has been spent on a PC and while I do own and have owned a lot of consoles, I am a PC player at heart and while Games like Decay of Logos come close to being a Zelda game - they never captured what it is to play as Link trying to save Zelda, they are just not the same thing at all.
All that said I do confess that one of my very favourite games of all time, if not my favourite is in fact The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I mean who doesn't love it right? For a PC player to say that, that seems pretty profound to me; let's look at that a bit deeper then, why is a console game from the 90's my favourite game of tall time, why do The Legend of Zelda games hold such a special place in so many people's hearts?
Let’s Take a Journey
Zelda, not the protagonist you play as but the princess you must always rescue or help in some way is known the world over as Link but Link, the actual protagonist and character you play as is the Hero of each story. They reside in the world known as Hyrule, the fictional lands that most of the games are set in, the Triforce...and so many more characters uniqiely assigned to the Zelda universe.
Zelda is a set of games that have either been played by Gamers, known and respected by Gamers, has inspired a Gamers favourite game or is simply sneered at from the shadows, but it’s known…the world over! They have inspired storytellers, games programmers, publishers and people all across the globe and that's not bad for a game series that stumbled into the light way back in 1986...
Back in 1986 The Legend of Zelda was released on the NES and…
The following year Zelda II: The Adventures of Link was released on NES
1991 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released on SNES and is to this day one of gamers favourites in the series.
The success of the franchise was established and what follows is a list of everything I could find during my research that has been released, if you're not impressed, you really should be, try and find another game series outside of Nintendo that has had this much success…
1993 Links Awakening on Gameboy
1998 The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time on N64
2000 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask on N64
2001 The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons on Gameboy Colour
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages on Gameboy Colour
2002 The Legend of Zelda: Found Swords/Anniversary Edition on GameCube
2003 The Legend of Zelda: WindWalker on GameCube
2005 The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess on Wii
2007 The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on Nintendo DS
2009 The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on Nintendo DS
2011 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii
2013 The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on Nintendo 3DS
2015 The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes on Nintendo 3DS
2017 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Wii U and Nintendo Switch
There are of course other franchise that have been very successful but nothing comes to mind that is as successful, as loved and as fondly remembered as the Zelda series, in one way or another it has touched every Gamer in some way and that is what I want to praise here in these tiny words on this little page in our little corner of this thing call the world wide web, because nothing I can write here can be as big as the presence of Zelda in the games industry.
A view from other Gamers…In putting this article together I reached out to ESN Members past and present to see what their fondest memories were of the Zelda franchise and what were their favourite game or indeed games, as diverse as these gamers are these comments tell a very similar story.
In terms of Zelda I have only really got a small amount of experience but here it goes.
On my N64 I had Ocarina of Time, I did not however get the RAM expansion so couldn't get Majora’s Mask, even though Ocarina REALLY made me see what games could be.
That gameplay and combat were excellent. The scope of the whole thing was just perfect - Massive without being overwhelming. And the music! Man, I will remember the music till the day I die.
The only other game I've played in the series is A Link to the Past on a Gameboy emulator on my phone. So, It wasn't exactly the most authentic of experiences!
I couldn't get into it. but it was probably more to do with the interface than anything. Need those click buttons!
The Zelda series has always been a cherished video game franchise to me, growing up and until now.
I have found so much enjoyment in titles such as Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, Zelda: A Link to the Past and of course my all-time favourite Zelda : Link's Awakening.
However, it would be unfair to say that any Zelda game is in my top 5 or indeed my favourite franchise, but it was my mother's. My mother is who got me into video games growing up as young as 4 or 5 years old and the Zelda franchise was by far her favourite series of games.
So for me, every time I fire up a Zelda title I get to fire up a memory of my mother and that's why I cherish the Zelda franchise.
To this day I still own the original gold cartridge NES of the original Zelda.
As a kid I loved it but could never figure out what I was doing because I played it TOO young. I remember I was like around 5 to 7 years old. I sadly never touched a Zelda after that because I never got to own the systems that they were available on. I died however play half of Zelda: Windwaker and loved it, it was borrowed though, and I had to give it back.
For me my favourite and fondest memories are definitely of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Many moons ago my grandfather bought me an N64, much against my fathers will, and Ocarina of Time was one of the first games he purchased me for it. My parents, who were super against video games, rarely let me play. The few times I was able to sneak in Ocarina of Time were some of my fondest memories. I never beat the game on my own system, but I was always mind blown going to friends’ houses and watching them trek through the water temple and later levels. It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later was I able to repurchase the game on my Nintendo DS and finally beat the game myself.
I only played Zelda: A Link to the Past from start to finish. My friend gifted it to me for my tenth birthday. I remember waking up super early, grabbing breakfast, and sitting on the floor in front of my TV and playing games while everyone was still asleep.
I wanted to add a few words in here as parts of this section because, well, it felt right.
As I said earlier The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of if not my favourite games of all time and certainly the one game apart from Goldeneye I have the fondest memories of playing to this day.
My N64 is long gone but I would love to get another for Zelda and Goldeneye, maybe an expansion pack and a couple other titles such as Major’s Mask the 2nd Zelda game on the N64 but one I never played it…
…and this brings me to why I didn’t Think I would be good for this article, I peeked with Ocarina and have never got into another Zelda game as deeply and never loved another as passionately, I would love a HD remake to play it again but I doubt that will ever happen outside of what is available on the DS.
Nothing will come close in my mind and I while I didn’t lose my love for Zelda I just can’t seem to get into any other since.
Just what has this been all about…
As I said I wanted to approach this article as more of a piece about how a series of games can impact generation after generation of gamers and more importantly how few games or franchises out there that can claim to have achieved this lofty goal, now that I think about it, are there even many outside of Nintendo's own franchises that could claim this honour?
It also hit me that I could not think of anything today’s games industry has to offer can that could say they had hit the magic formula Zelda hits? I personally don't think anything can or will be able to claim this until a very different industry emerges.
Unless developers and Publishers actively work to get back to a Games industry that is more about the gameplay than the graphics, that is more about the gamers than how much money fat cats can wring out of their sucker customers with DLC, Micro-transactions and so on…
Unless they can start remembering the time when with very little power and very little money a small company in Japan released a game during a purer time of gaming. When it was all about developers with a passion for getting games to the hands of gamers, that they themselves actually wanted to play.
When games were not released as half arsed rip offs of a game released the weeks before, or when they were not released half finished and patched later so they could say they hit a particular target.
When we, the gamers, were more innocent and no matter how old and jaded we had become through our real lives, we could step into a world where we could be as innocent as the characters in games like Zelda.
What we need is those that remember these times to show the gamers of today that only know this current games industry, one that has lost lost it's way, that a better time existed and that they don't have to put up with the disappointment that so many games are upon release.
They don't have to put up with bugged releases and fix-it-later patches, they don't have to pay £40/$70 for a game then buy the DLC to actually finish it, that we can and should demand more and better from and industry that has done better when it was fighting for it's place in the world, a place it feels like to this gamer it does not deserve and if it is not careful will loose, the Triforce is watching!