Releasing first in Japan in 1986 (for the Family Computer Disk System Famicom peripheral), it also saw release in North America and Europe but on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game was one of the first epic adventure titles and was the first home console game to include an internal battery to allow a player to save his progress.
As with many Nintendo franchises, The Legends of Zelda was the start of a highly popular and successful franchise, leading to dozens of games and spin-off titles
The Legend of Zelda is one of the best games ever made.
That’s what was going through my head at the age of 8 when I first started playing as the young adventurer Link in his journey to save Princess Zelda in the land of Hyrule.
Of course, I actually thought I was playing as the character Zelda, like I assumed many kids did when they first booted up the game.
It wasn’t until I payed attention of the opening text telling me I was actually a character named Link, who’s task is to find 8 units of the Triforce of Wisdom, and thus rescue Zelda from Gannon.
Starting the game, the fast thing you notice is that you have almost complete freedom to go in any direction and explore.
Unlike NES games I had been playing up to at this point, you didn’t start at stage 1.
In fact, it was a little overwhelming. It certainly took time to learn the different locations and identify landmarks early on.
You’ll start finding different enemies and learn how they attack. Thankfully Link starts of with a sword and has a shield to certain projectile attacks.
Defeating enemies drop love hearts that replenish your health, but more importantly, they can also drop rupees.
Finding rupees (which is the in game currency) is important on your quest as you will need to find shopkeepers to sell you special items that allow you to overcome obstacles.
One of the better ways to accumulate rupees is by finding secret rooms that are scattered across the world map.
Finding secrets takes some real effort as many don’t reveal any obvious clues in how to find them.
Ultimately though, your goal is to find pieces of the Triforce that are held in dungeons, guarded behind boss monsters.
This is easier said than done.
Figuring out where you are suppose to go and finding dungeons is a challenge in itself.
Like many other 8 bit games of the time, you are provided with only very basic clues.
When you mix in the size of the map (which was massive for the time), it could get frustrating in figuring out your next step.
Thankfully, I remember becoming more and more experienced at the kind of tricks the game would play and you eventually find yourself progressing more naturally (as well as writing down a bunch of notes and map landmarks).
Speaking of the dungeons themselves, they consisted of multiple rooms with enemies, traps, puzzles and a boss monster.
Locked doors required keys, while you could also obtain a compass and map to help you navigate each dungeon section.
You also found the majority of your adventure items working your way through different dungeons, including the bow, boomerang and magical rod.
When you finally get to the final dungeon, all your skills up until this point will be tested, before the final showdown with Gannon himself.
As my cousin and I defeated him and finished the game we were shocked to learn of a ‘Second Quest’.
This new quest had the player start again from the beginning of the game, but with dungeons and certain items remixed in different locations across the map.
It also added additional elements to make the game harder. We couldn’t believe the game had thrown as another full adventure to play through, as end game content was very rare for the time.
Truly a fantastic surprise for a bunch of eight year olds.
There are 9 dungeon levels in both the First and Second Quest that need to be completed to rescue Princess Zelda.
Here is a quick rundown on the dungeons you encounter.
A very basic dungeon and serves as a bit of a tutorial for things to come.
Players will encounter skeleton (stalfos), bats (keese) and gels and goriyas monsters – many that need to be defeated to reveal hidden dungeon keys.
The boomerang and bow are obtained in stage one, before the first boss Aquamentus is encountered
Straight away you are introduced to the snake enemy which charge at Link once they have line of sight.
Another new hazard found in the dungeon are fireball throwing statues, tough to navigate because they cannot be destroyed.
A desert themed dungeon room has the player face off against another kind of snake resembling connected balls of fire.
Level 2 is also where Link can upgrade his boomerang to its magical, better version.
The boss guarding the Triforce here is the dinosaur looking monster Dodongo that must be defeated by feeding it bombs.
Known as the green dungeon due to its background colour, level 3 introduces large gels that are tougher to defeat over their smaller kin.
Even harder to defeat are the new enemy knights known as darknuts. They use shields and can block incoming attacks making them extra durable.
Flying fireball bubble monsters also make their first appearance and can only be dodged by Link as they are immune to attacks.
The raft item is found in level 3 with the boss monster being fireball spewing Manhandla.
Travelling to the dungeon on the newly acquired raft items, things will now start to get a little harder!
Level 4 throws the demon looking Vire monster at Link, that split into red keese when killed.
Dungeon rooms with no lights also feature in this stage, so the player must mind their steps or find themselves caught by monster attacks.
Due to the large number of enemies that can appear in this stage (especially as Vires continue to spawn additional keese), it’s important not to rush or you’ll be easily overwhelmed.
And just for that extra tough touch, Level 3 boss Manhandla appears for round 2 within the dungeon.
The ladder item is found by a secret staircase in level 4 and the end of stage boss is the two headed dragon Gleeok.
After solving a puzzle dungeon level 5 can be found in the mountain regions of the map.
Another new enemy comes into play that is both fast and durable known as Pols Voices (and looking like big eared, whisker bunny heads).
Bombs will need to be used to find a secret room leading to the flute item.
In fact, you better come with quite a few bombs in stock as you’ll be fighting three Dodongos at once!
The guardian boss of this dungeon is Digdogger, who requires the player to play the flute to weaken him before attacking.
Beware the teleportation enemy Wizzrobe, who make their appearance in this dungeon.
The player is wise to bring a healing potion into level 6, as close to the start they’ll be facing a three headed Gleeok.
Rooms with more mixed enemy types also start to be common place, as well as the continual use of dark rooms with no lights.
The level 6 boss is the spider / crab looking monster named Gohma which requires arrows to defeat.
Found by playing the flute at a specific pond, level 7 requires you to first buy the ‘food’ item if you want to progress through this stage.
Get prepared for one of the biggest dungeons yet, filled with enemies, bosses and traps Link has encountered up until this point.
Strangely however, the boss of the dungeon is a repeat of the easy stage 1 boss Aquamentus, so that helps with the difficulty.
The red candle is acquired in the level.
Found by using last stage’s item the red candle (and hard to find at that), stage 8 is where the final piece of the Triforce is found.
Get ready for a test of skill, with rooms designed with hard combinations of powerful enemies (and a ton of fireball throwing statues).
While their is no new boss type found on stage 8, you will have to verse plenty of previous ones, ending with a four headed Gleeok!
Level 8 let’s the player secure the magical book item and complete the Triforce.
This is it, time to rescue princess Zelda from the monstrous Gannon!
Multiple Wizzrobes harass players relentless, while they struggle to navigate this large, final dungeon.
Why of the reasons it’s so hard as you don’t find the map until you progress much further through the dungeon, and many rooms need to be found by blowing holes in walls.
Also introduced are the powerful Patra monsters – giant flying eyeballs that are shielded by smaller flying eyeballs and are tough to defeat.
Easily the longest dungeon in the game, Link will have to find the silver arrow in this labyrinthine before confronting Gannon.
I hope you have potions because Gannon is no push over. Starting the fight he invisibly shoots fireballs at the player making them have to guess where to strike.
After enough damage, he can be stunned and defeated using the silver arrow and princess Zelda and Hyrule can be saved.