Jon Gracey's

Games That Rocked…Lara 6683’s World – #37: The Legend Of Zelda

In 3DS, Gamecube, GBA, NES, Virtual Console, Wii, Wii U on May 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Today’s post is by Lara De Wit, of Lara plays videogame music! fame.

Title: The Legend Of Zelda

Format: NES, GBA, Gamecube, Virtual Console, Wii, Wii U, 3DS

Released: February 21st, 1986

Hey guys! My name’s Lara and I like to play videogame music on YouTube, usually in cosplay. You may have seen me around town wearing this outfit:

Lara

In case you are wondering whether I am an actual nerd, or just pretend I am for more street cred amongst gamer geeks, here is a picture of my bedroom wall:

Zelda Map

Apart from my rampant and uncontrollable Xena: Warrior Princess obsession, I also have a real fondness for old-school Nintendo games, particularly their soundtracks. Which brings me to the game I’ve chosen to write about today: The Legend of Zelda. Oh, my heart doth overflow with a mixture of unbridled joy, frustration, and intense nostalgia when I think of this masterpiece; I’m sure it’s the same for so many others out there!

We were always just a little behind the times when it came to gaming consoles in my family. When everyone else was playing the SNES or eagerly awaiting the release of the N64, we were plugging the NES beast into our 50 billion year old TV and anxiously awaiting the promised ‘realistic’ 8-bit graphics and ‘exciting, powerful gameplay’ that this console offered! Being one of four children, we couldn’t afford the price tag of $70 AUD+ for the brand new, ‘popular’ NES carts, but we were pretty content playing some more obscure titles, and of course the LEGENDARY Super Mario Bros 3 which came bundled with the console.

My amazing mother came home one day with a beaten up gold cartridge and a tattered instruction manual missing half of its pages. She had managed to pick up The Legend of Zelda from a garage sale for a fraction of the retail price, after one of her totally hip gamer-mom friends recommended it as a ‘must-play’ title.

Zelda Box

If I’m to be completely honest, I was underwhelmed at first. I had no idea that this game was in fact the revolutionary first title of what was soon to be a stunning and revered series all over the world. After flicking though the instruction manual, I decided the game looked obscure (LOL!)and highly complicated. The first two pages outlining Hyrule’s state of turmoil and Impa’s harrowing tale struck terror and wonder into my heart.

Zelda Manual

I decided to give it a red hot go. After blowing on the NES cart 87 times, the screen lit up in pink, and the most RIGHTEOUS sounding music I’d ever heard came blasting out of our prehistoric television. Who knew that square and triangle waves could sound so grand!? The stakes were high, my friends!!!

Cut to the overworld screen. WHAT IS THIS SORCERY!? I’d never played anything other than a side-scrolling platformer, and I didn’t know where to begin. After roaming around for a few minutes and getting frustrated by my lack of direction, I rage-quit and turned it off. Sadly, the map that came with the game was missing in its entirety, and the most important pages of the instructional manual were also conspicuously absent. Remember, this was back in an age of NO INTERNET at home. The only other option was to call the Nintendo hotline for help, but at $2.95 per minute, this would not be happening unless I sold my kidney in exchange for vital information on how to play this godforsaken game.

So, back to the drawing board. Together my sister and I looked through the manual once more in the hopes of some sage advice. One picture in the instruction booklet still stands out TO THIS DAY. It’s a shot of Ganon’s immense leg, his silver-blue muscles rippling in the firelight.

Ganon Leg

‘Do you think we’ll ever get to see what Ganon looks like?’ I turned to ask my sister, ‘I mean, just IMAGINE the day we get to the final dungeon!’ We faced each other in fear and wonderment. Ahhh, the innocence of youth! Little did I know that Ganon would ultimately be represented by a collection of coloured pixels in a completely 2-dimensional room, but my little heart was hoping for more.

With some perseverance, and several pearls of wisdom from our friends, we managed to locate the first labyrinth and defeat the magnificent and sexy beast, ‘Aquamentus’ (who, reassuringly, makes another appearance in Labyrinth 7). Things were looking up, and we set forth deeper into Hyrule, travelling in every direction (all 4 of them!) The concept of free exploration was the most exciting and revolutionary aspect of this game. Years later, I read that Shigeru Miyamoto used to explore the caves and forests of the Kyoto countryside as a child, and it was these memories which inspired him to create the world of Hyrule. The non- linear aspect of the game was particularly exciting – I loved ascending Death Mountain and feeling like I was ‘out of bounds’; there was a definite sense of danger up on those peaks! As an aside, did anyone else think that the falling rocks looked like McDonalds chicken nuggets?? No?….tumbleweed…..

Chicken Nuggets

One of the most magical things about this game was that secret sound – I have never heard a more beguiling and heart-poundingly-exciting series of 8 tones! For me, this ‘otherworldy’ sound (created only by a square wave-form) defines ‘discovery’ to this day.

Now, let’s talk about bombs. Who else got a bit carried away and bombed every single wall/set fire to every bush in the hopes that it would lead to a weird and wonderful discovery? The thing about this game is that the payoffs are AWESOME; destroying nature and private property is often rewarded. Didn’t we all feel clever when we placed a bomb in front of a very obviously cracked wall to reveal a secret passageway when it exploded!? This game had just enough ‘free’ exploration combined with some obvious, and not so obvious ‘directions’. ‘Grumble grumble’ being an infamous example of a not-so-obvious direction 😛

Grumble Grumble

If I only had two words to describe the labyrinths of The Legend of Zelda, I would say this: Blue Darknuts.

Dungeon Pic

Those buggers had a LOT of attacking power, and round about Labyrinth 6 they became nearly impossible to defeat without having purchased the red ring (which sold for the princely sum of 250 rupees). It was time to swiftly dispatch more tektites, strangely lucrative beasts that they are! From here it was quite straightforward until the end (thanks to the old man’s clues!), and although the final showdown with Ganon was not quite as mind-blowing as I’d hoped for (say, I think we have to use the silver arrows to defeat him??), the music was sufficiently terrifying.

A strange sense of resolution came over me as I completed the final dungeon in this game, it was almost bittersweet. The adventure was everything the instruction manual had promised, and more. This one little game paved the way for so many others, and yet I didn’t realise back then that I had just played one of the defining masterpieces of our time. The Legend of Zelda will always hit me right in the childhood: Shigeru Miyamoto, you really struck gold with this one.

——

Lara as Link

Lara is a musician and star of Lara Plays Videogame Music! (See fan art above). Check out her YouTube channel, follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s a sample!

You should totally buy her CD, via iTunes, AmazonGoogle Play or physically here!

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  1. i remember playing the legend of zelda II…i have the gold cartridge too:)…wow, now that i think clearly, the first time i saw link it was in manabí..never expected it

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