I’m going to share a story with you. A story of how a certain franchise has been apart of my life in a way I didn’t realize at first.
Around Ages 3-5
I had a lot of toys as a kid. Being the youngest of 3 boys, we shared most of them. Mainly action figures, LEGO and Hot Wheels. We had them categorized in various bins. Anything we couldn’t exactly label was put into a “miscellaneous” bin. I remember this bin fondly for I would always shuffle through it, playing with whatever I could find. I specifically remember one item that stood out to me. It was this shiny golden piece of plastic. One would say it was in the shape of an NES cartridge. There were no stickers on it however and it made a rattling sound. Chances are, it was broken and my parents didn’t know it was a game. Possibly The Legend of Zelda or Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
I would always play with it for a couple seconds and then throw it back in the bin. This is possibly my earliest memory of a Zelda game. For some reason, the sword on the cover of Zelda II is standing out to me while talking about this. It’s a shame I won’t be able to 100% confirm what it was exactly.
This was possibly the first time a Zelda game has entered my life.
Around Ages 6-8
My dad would frequently visit his best friend who lived out of state. He had a couple kids of his own so my family would travel up there from time to time. His kids always had the latest games. I was so jealous yet excited because I knew that meant I would have a chance to play them. I cycled through every game they had. I would play them for as long as I could… meaning until I either got bored or I got a game over. I remember playing Mega Man X and being able to beat the intro stage. I was terrible. Then I saw this one specific SNES cartridge that had a gold label on it. It was none other than The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Except I didn’t know it was called ALttP since I didn’t take the time to read it.
I boot up the game and watch the majestic Triforce twinkle down the screen only to be surprised by the sudden Master Sword stabbing the logo. It had me excited. I didn’t understand save files at this time in my life so I just selected the one with the most icons. I start on top of a pyramid that has a huge hole on top of it. I jump down into the depths and I am welcomed by big blue pig-like creature teleporting around with a trident. I have been vanquished. The screen turns red. Game Over. I eject the cartridge with disgust and started playing another game.
Being defeated by Ganon in A Link to the Past is my very first experience of a Zelda game.
The year was 1998 and just like those kids who had all the latest games, my cousin too owned every game imaginable, owning every system as well. I grew up on Nintendo consoles, so this was my only way to play SEGA and Sony games. I remember being mesmerized by Final Fantasy VII though I had no clue what I was doing. Mentally, I just wasn’t ready for RPG’s. The same goes for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I wasn’t aware of Zelda’s popularity yet. All I remember is Best Buy selling action figures of characters I really didn’t know. Eventually, I’d see a commercial or two on TV, still not really understanding what it is that I was even watching. Then, one weekend, I was over my aunt’s house and I brought over a few Nintendo 64 games to play since my cousin had the N64 as well. I was going to play something of mine until I saw what he had. He had Ocarina of Time. I had to play it. I boot up the game and watch as Link rides Epona across the moonlit Hyrule Field to some relaxing piano music. That alone had me interested. There’s just something about Zelda‘s intros that lure me in. Then a familiar tune plays at the save file screen. Between this and FFVII, I knew what save files were now. I couldn’t pinpoint where I’ve heard this tune before (obviously from ALttP). The Great Fairy’s Fountain. I loved it and to this day, it is my all time favorite Zelda song.
I have a confession: When I was playing this as a kid, the furthest I’d ever get is becoming adult Link and reaching the Forest Temple. I’d play this chunk of the game time and time again when I wasn’t finishing Star Fox 64 for the zillionith time. I eventually took the game home with me to keep playing it. Something about young Link I correlated with heavily. A 10 year old kid, with blonde hair and blue eyes, going on a grand adventure. Only equipped with a tiny sword.
This is a bit of a side step, but at my grandmother’s house, I used to play with this bizarre bottle of cologne since I wasn’t really allowed to have wooden swords anymore. I’d fight with my brothers a lot. It was in the shape of a dagger. After playing OoT, I pretended that dagger was a Kokiri Blade. Also, at this time I had a crush on a girl who was also blonde with blue eyes so you can kinda see who I saw her as. I don’t why I’m telling you this…
The point is, this game meant a lot to me and I didn’t fully understand why at the time. Looking back though, there is a lot I can relate to and it holds a sentimental place in my heart…one of twenty.
This was the very first time I knew I was playing a Zelda game.
I was on top of my Zelda game this time around. I had went to Toys”R”Us and picked up my copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask along with the strategy guide. I had that sweet gold cartridge with the hologram label too. I spent the entire month playing this game and this game alone. I remember even seeing in the contest in Nintendo Power where you could win a sweet Jackson guitar in the shape of Mikau’s fish-skeleton guitar. As a guitar player and a Zelda enthusiast, I would LOVE to own that instrument. I got the Fierce Diety’s Mask, and I had never felt so bad ass in my life. Turning into adult Link again, but with this sick blade that shot beams. Who doesn’t want that? To this day I still want to see an adult Link wear that mask while fighting Ganon who has fused with Majora’s Mask. Tell me that wouldn’t be rad.
This was the first time I’ve owned and completed a Zelda game.
It was from this point on that I established my favorite video game series. Every game within the franchise has stuck out to me in an important way. It has also made me realize what kind of video games I mostly enjoy, which happens to be action, puzzle, and RPG’s. The Legend of Zelda series does a beautiful way of combing those three genres. For some reason, I still wasn’t fully aware of the series’ popularity. Probably because the internet didn’t blow up just yet. Until 2004.
Nintendo showcases one final trailer at E3. Mind you, this is my first time viewing E3 ever and to see that glorious trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess BLEW. MY. MIND. For so long I wanted a Zelda game where you were “adult Link” the entire time. The wolf was an added bonus, since that happens to be my favorite animal. I watched that trailer over and over for days on end. I went to EB Games and pre-ordered the game, before Project Revolution was called the Wii. But of course I had to wait to get my copy (GameCube) since they wanted to push the Wii version first. They were the longest 2 years of my life. And it was worth it.
To this day, Twilight Princess is my favorite Zelda game, but that doesn’t mean that I hate the rest. Like I said before, I love them all, but Twilight Princess stands out to me just a little more so than others.
This was the first time a Zelda game literally made me drop my jaw. A feeling I don’t get from many games.
I’ve been on a quest to finish every Zelda title. I only have a small handful of games left to complete. The Legend of Zelda for Wii U hasn’t been released yet, but if turns out to be anything like it’s teaser or better, there’s a good chance it could be my new favorite Zelda game, but only time will tell. This series has help to shape who I am today. It’s hard to notice at first, but it’s the little details that go a long way with me. I didn’t elaborate on every detail with how Zelda effects my life in many ways. Mostly because I’m not that great of a writer. But I will say this:
My view on the NES Legend of Zelda is how I like to see life. LoZ doesn’t hold your hand, and neither does life. It’s dangerous to go alone. You will try, and fail- over and over again. You will get lost, hurt and even heart-broken. But you can learn from your mistakes. You can gain that courage to get up and try again. You can use the wisdom that you’ve received to help yourself as well as others. To never give up. Courage and wisdom together is real power.
Don’t just play with power. Embrace it.