It took me a while to embrace the Legend of Zelda.
I’ve never mentioned this before, but it’s true: Despite growing up with both the NES and the SNES, I was not a Zelda fan. I did not dislike the series, I just did not seek it out for play. I am not even sure whether I owned the NES original or A Link to the Past first. Years and years passed before I would bother making a real effort to go back and conquer them, thus perhaps regaining an appreciation for Nintendo’s way with mythic lore.
It was quite a journey.
I grew up in a neighborhood where a few of us had the NES. Game-borrowing happened, which was a cool thing that I am not sure ever happens any more.
The point is, there was this one guy, let’s call him Ralph, and he had Legend of Zelda. Now, at this specific point in time, I was too young to appreciate any kind of 8-bit Zelda game. No gold cartridges for this guy, no sir. I mean, like, 4-7 years old sort of range. But this Ralph guy, he was a few years older and, hey, he let me borrow Legend of Zelda. I have no idea why or how that came about. I certainly remember what happened, though.
I remember going home, popping in the cartridge, and being so confused. The whole idea of a save slot, or naming your character, that was sci-fi to me. I remembered his words: “LINK is my guy, don’t touch my man LINK, start your own man, don’t do anything with LINK!”
And I remember seeing, yep, there’s LINK, with all these hearts by his icon, way more than the other one, and his tunic is a different color too. Wow, this game is so weird, I thought. I had no idea what was going on.
And what was this ELIMINATION MODE?
… long story short: Little-kid Eric deleted older-kid Ralph’s savegame on Legend of Zelda, and he had mercy on me, and did not kill me, and that is why I am still alive today.
I remember the Nintendo cereal commercial.
Many gamers, possibly millions, had this moment of magic when they played Super Mario 64. For them, it was the first time they had played a console title in three dimensions; which, as awesome as Super Mario World is (and I dare say few would contend 64 > World), you have to understand, it was a unique feeling to travel a 3D world. It was a dimension-leaping, reality-altering, this-changes-everything sort of sensation that cluster of gamers got to experience.
Not me. No. I wish I had a better memory as to what my first few Nintendo 64 games were, because our collection of carts became top-notch rather quickly. We did not have dozens of titles, but the games we did have were all high-caliber knock-outs. We would have friends over to play Super Smash Bros, Goldeneye, even Dr. Mario 64. Have you ever played 4-player Dr. Mario? It’s amazing. My mom liked Paper Mario so much that I think she buys that game any time she sees it in the wild. I put in more hours of Perfect Dark than I did in college classes (seriously, I typed that out as a joke but now I am legitimately doing the math and left wondering…).
There was this one little game we had, you may have heard of it: Ocarina of Time. Yeah. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
A lot has been said about little ol’ OoT. I will only add my personal two cents.
Ocarina of Time was MY moment of three-dimensional bliss, that chapter of my gaming life when my eyes were opened to an entire new universe of possibilities. Often I see people take knocks at Ocarina, calling it overrated, etc. There has been plenty of that sort of commentary with the latest… GameFAQs/Undertale/The-Internet-Is-Super-Serious thing.
Really, critiquing an old video game is… well, fair game. “Fish in a barrel,” as they would say. The game has flaws, yep. It has not aged perfectly, sure.
Yet you cannot remove my personal affection for the title — and that affection is mighty.
I mean, Majora’s Mask is my favorite, but Ocarina was my Legend of Zelda gateway drug. My first Zelda love. From navigating the Lost Woods to encountering Dark Link for the first time, it was simply a wonderful experience.
I was hooked. From that point forward, I had to have every Legend of Zelda game on console. I do not own a Wii U, but if/when Zelda U releases, I will likely purchase it. This is my Nintendo existence.
oh man majora’s mask @#$% i cannot even begin that game might just have to have its own 10,000 word thing someday @#$%
I have never been a big portable-games guy.
Like, I mean, I don’t hold anything against mobile gamers of any sort. Maybe I lack the multi-tasking ability to think it is very practical to just whip out a Game Boy and start playin’ away at something. That whole paradigm has never worked within the mind’s-eye view of my life. I cannot see it as a practicality.
But, hey, sure, I had a Game Boy Pocket. My sister was into some GB games. I had Pokémon Blue.
Even then, though, I admit to having some weird-in-hindsight prejudices against Game Boy gaming. I actually thought things like, “Why can’t they just make this on a real system?! Pokémon would be so awesome as a Super Nintendo game!!” Or, “Game Boy games, ugh! With that limited hardware, that monochromatic stuff… you can’t have a real cinematic, escapist fantasy.”
And theeeeeeeen I played Link’s Awakening.
I would thoroughly recommend it. Sometimes, I still hear the Wind Fish.
I can say, without hesitation, that Link’s Awakening was another video game that changed my perception on gaming and its possibilities. It made That List for me personally. I became captivated by that island and its mysteries like few other quests have ever left me.
It’s one of those funny little things that you either know or you don’t. I can’t tell you what’s on Koholint Island. But those of us who have been there share a special bond.
Or whatever. I dunno, it’s a great game and probably my favorite portable title of all time.
Huh. This post did not really turn into a handful of memory stories like I thought I would. Ultimately, it became more of a retrospective on how the series impacted me and how I see, play, seek, and remember games.
Hey, it’s Legend of Zelda week. This is my celebration.
Here’s to you, LoZ. You are great. I like you strongly.
Wind Waker was annoying enough often enough that I ultimately cannot put it in my top 3 Zelda games, though. It’s just true.