The Legend of Zelda

I’ll make my brother play this three times. Yes, I will Triforce him to play.

Review Date: March 9, 2021

Release Date: August 22, 1987

Platform: NES

Genre: Adventure

Anecdotes: Sometimes, a video game is just a video game. They’re released to crickets and quickly forgotten. Only people like me would remember. Zelda, of course, was not one of those games. We had the whole neighborhood collaborating on this game. We would all ask each other questions, and we all spread our knowledge to those asking. A neighbor showed me how to get the raft. I later showed him how the get the recorder. My brother stumbled across the ability to push through select walls in the second quest. My youngest brother figured out the Lost Woods. This was truly a team effort. It took me, my brothers, my neighbors, my classmates, and the people at the hotline to get everything. Now, I see people on Twitch blow through the game in 40 minutes on a regular basis, which we couldn’t do then, nor could we do it alone. On a different note, none of us called Manhandla by its name because we didn’t know it; we just called it “The Fan Guy.”

It’s the “Fan Guy!!” I’ve always wondered if Manhandla and Level 3 were supposed to have similar shapes.

Description: Link has to save Hyrule and rescue Princess Zelda in the process. To do so, Link must defeat Ganon who is hiding up in Death Mountain. However, it’s not that easy. Entry to Ganon’s lair is denied until Link finds all 8 pieces of the Triforce. Hyrule has 9 dungeons, but there is one Triforce piece in each of the first 8. While trying to collect all the pieces, Link will need to obtain items that open the way.

This is what my menu screen looked like after getting the eighth Triforce piece. I had to dive back into 8, though, to get the Master Key.


  1. There are somewhere around 400 rooms to explore in the first quest alone, which is astounding for 1987. Like Metroid, there will be rooms that look identical, but they’re far less frequent and the enemies aren’t the same. Assuming the sword was picked up at the start, the entire overworld (except for the raft screens); all of levels 1, 2, and 3; and parts of levels 5 and 6 are all available right from the start. The options are many, and even if players don’t know the game, levels 1 and 3 are really easy to find.
  2. The programmers, amazingly, were able to fit levels 1, 4, and 5 into a neat 8 by 8 square and still managed to give each level a unique but detectable shape. This also applies to levels 2, 3, and 6 as well. It doesn’t truly affect the game, but it’s a cool thing to note.
  3. Link has a lot of great toys to play with. In the order they appear on the menu: the boomerang, useful for stunning enemies and taking out bats; the bombs, best used for blowing open holes in the wall; the bow and arrows, useful for Gohma and Pols Voices, but cost one rupees per arrow; the candle, which burns down select bushes; the recorder, which weakens Digdogger, but also can warp Link to completed dungeons; the bait, usually just used to get past the Grumbler in 7; the potions, which recover Link’s health; and the Magic Wand, which works long distance on some enemies.
  4. Excluding levels 7 and 8 because they repeats of previous bosses, the bosses are all different and require different strategies. One can’t be hit with the sword at all. Two other have to have something else used on them first. They are all fair challenges. None are cake walks, but none are next to impossible, either.
  5. The game has a wide variety of enemies and there are different properties for each one. For example, Link can get in a Goriya’s face and attack, but Darknuts have to be attacked from behind or the side. There are Stalfos skeletons and Ghini ghosts. The are Like Likes that look like hamburgers and Wizzrobes to make things harder. It’s a nice mix.
  6. This is just my opinion, but I really believe this game was a huge reason why console gaming took off. Before it, console gaming was a passing interest and arcades were still popular. Legend of Zelda turned that around. Home consoles became the rage and arcades started to struggle to stay afloat. There was no arcade version of this, so it wasn’t designed as a quarter muncher. That means the difficulty was a LOT fairer.
  7. There are tons of things to find. We eventually went over every screen in the overworld with bombs, the candle, or the recorder. There were a lot of jerks that charged Link for it, but we found level 9 that way.

Negatives: Other than a few glitches that only speedrunners know or care about, what else is there?

More Screenshots:

Fine, but I’m still alone. I’m alone with a sword now.
Ugh, it’s the Wallmasters. They offer free one way trips to the dungeon entrance.
Never, ever take the potion. They can be found elsewhere. The hearts can not.
I wish I could have greeted my customers like this. I’d leave this guy behind, but I really need that candle.
On the NES, waterfalls do one of two things: hurt the hero or block the view of hidden rooms. This one is the latter.
Thank you fairy much.
I hit this guy in the face for that “hint,” and the fireballs started attacking. I also like the moon shape of level 2.
Look at all those Darknuts! Luckily, this batch doesn’t have to be defeated. I just worked my way through them to get the raft.
I’m just going to float over to level 4.
Ah, the Lost Woods. To reach the left side, go up, left, down, and left. To go right, just go right.
Here’s a fun thing to do. First, keep track of that first Ghini that is on the screen. Then, go up to a tombstone (except the third one in the second row, which has the Master Sword room under it) and push on it until there are lots of Ghinis on the screen, while keeping an eye on the original one. Now go kill that original Ghini. When it dies, all of them die.
Who is this Master, anyway?
It just figures. I’m one rupee short to buy the blue ring.
I got that final rupee from an Octorok, so the blue ring is mine. I’ll be back later for the bait.
As any Zelda fans knows, musical instruments play a major role in the series. This is the first one.
People HATE level 6. This particular room is a big reason why. Everything in here, except for the Bubble, must be defeated to escape.
After a tough level 6, there’s a much easier level 7, but the bait is required to go past this point.
Level 8 has a really good item in it. This isn’t it. I still have to get that one.
The guard is gone if Link has all 8 Triforce pieces.
It took me forever to find this. I found Ganon first, and fans know that’s not a good thing.
Finally. I spent forever farming for a bomb drop, then ended up at Ganon before getting the Silver Arrows. Here, though, I do have the arrows, so I can beat him.
Look, Link and Zelda match! I wonder if that’s true without the red ring.
Ten Ten did great on this game. Can I just call him Hundred instead?

Grade: A (first quest only)

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