Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Legend of Zelda
|The Legend of Zelda|
|Game modes:||Single player|
The Legend of Zelda was the first game in The Legend of Zelda series of video games, made by Nintendo under the direction of game creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who also created Mario. The game was inspired by Miyamoto's imaginary adventures in the hills of Kyoto, Japan as a young child. It was released on the Japanese Famicom system in February 1986 and its western equivalent on the NES in 1987. The music including the classic Zelda theme was composed by Koji Kondo.
The game is set in the land of Hyrule and revolves around a young Hylian named Link, who must rescue Princess Zelda from the clasps of the villain Ganon by collecting eight pieces of an item known as the Triforce of Wisdom. The game features a mixture of action, exploration and puzzles and was very successful commercially. It was unusual in that its cartridge featured a battery that allowed the player to save his progress across multiple sessions with the game. In addition, the plastic casing of the cartridge was gold instead of the usual gray, making it seem special from the very beginning. It was later re-released on gray cartridges in 1990.
The first Zelda appears relatively simple by today's standards, but it was a very advanced game for its day. Innovations included the ability to use dozens of different items, a vast world full of secrets to explore, and the freedom of relatively nonlinear gameplay. Many of these innovations became staples of the Zelda series and other games which followed its lead. The game was wildly popular in Japan and the United States, and many consider it one of the most important videogames ever made.
Zelda is considered one of the spiritual forerunners of the console role-playing game (CRPG) genre, and is considered by many to be a CRPG itself. Even though Zelda contains many different gameplay elements than a typical computer or console RPG, the aesthetic similarities (bright, cartoony graphics, plus fantasy elements, as well as well-composed music) between Zelda and many CRPGs are unmistakable. Also, the success of Zelda helped create a market for involved, nonlinear games in fantasy settings, such as those found in successful CRPGs. Later RPGs such as Secret of Mana included a number of elements from Zelda.
The game begins with player controlling Link armed with a small shield. A simple sword is immediately available. To advance further, Link must explore the overworld, a large outdoor map with a variety of environments, fighting an assortment of small creatures in order to locate the entrances to nine underground dungeons. Each dungeon is a unique, labyrinthian collection of small rooms connected by doors and secret passages and guarded by a variety of monsters, all of which are different from those found in the overworld. Link must navigate through each dungeon to obtain the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom along with other useful items, some necessary to complete his quest. For example, the third dungeon contains a raft which is needed to reach the entrance to the fourth dungeon. Other available items include upgrades for Link's sword and shield, bombs for uncovering secret caverns, and a recorder with magical properties. The first six dungeons have visible entrances while the remaining three are hidden from view. The order of completing the dungeons is relatively arbitrary, but the ninth and final dungeon can only be entered after collecting the entire Triforce of Wisdom.
Nonlinearity, the ability to take different paths in completing the game, is an important element of Zelda which was largely absent in its contemporaries. Although the dungeons were designed to be completed in order, there are many possible orders. Similarly, Link can wander the overworld, finding and buying items at any point. This flexibility enabled some unusual ways of playing the game; for example, it's possible to reach the final boss of the game without taking a sword, which in a normally-played game is the preferred primary weapon. Nonlinearity is also a source of frustration, however, often leaving players wondering what to do next.
The nine labyrinths that a player must traverse to complete the game each have the shape of an easily recognizable object (eagle, lion's head, snake, etc.) which make them easier for the astute gamer to navigate. The third labyrinth has the shape of what appears to Western audiences as a mirror-image of a swastika. This shape is actually a "manji", which is a Buddhist symbol of good fortune. In Japan, where this game was initially released, swastikas and similar shapes are relatively benign, which explains why a symbol so offensive to many Western audiences could be included. In the United States, there were surprisingly few complaints about the "manji", but years later, when Pokémon became popular in the United States, Nintendo was forced to alter one of the cards due to complaints regarding a "manji".
The Second Quest
Once the game was completed (or by using a secret code, entering "ZELDA" as your character's name), you could play through the "second quest." The basic overworld map is unchanged but the locations and the layout of the dungeons is completely different, and most of the items and secrets are in different places than before. For example, only two of the nine dungeons now have visible entrances, and the fifth dungeon is where the fourth dungeon used to be. In this regard, the second quest is much more difficult than the first. While a more difficult "replay" was not an innovation unique to The Legend of Zelda, few games offered a "second quest" with entirely different levels to complete. This added a great deal to the replay value of the game.
The Third Quest?
A modified version with updated graphics, a smaller overworld, and completely different dungeons, known as BS Zelda, was released for the Super Famicom's Japanese-only satellite-based expansion, the Bandai Satellaview, in 1995. Several Japanese sources allude to this as being intended as a "Third Quest", much like The Second Quest (above). When the game was rebroadcast in 1996 they changed the dungeons (and probably the overworld as well); this revision apparently had a smaller broadcast audience and is known only as "~map2~". This second map could well be thought of as a "Fourth Quest".
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987 Japan, 1988 USA, 1989 Europe - Famicom/NES)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991 Japan, 1992 USA and Europe - Super Famicom/SNES)
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (1993 - Game Boy; 1998 - color version for Game Boy Color)
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998 - Nintendo 64)
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000 - Nintendo 64)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons (2001 - Game Boy Color; by Capcom)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003 - GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (2003 - Game Boy Advance; new edition + Four Swords; by Capcom)
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004 - GameCube)
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2005 - Game Boy Advance; by Capcom)
- The Legend of Zelda (tentative title) (To be announced - GameCube)
- GameFAQs: Walkthrough and Maps for The Legend of Zelda
- Zelda Classic: A project to recreate The Legend of Zelda for modern computers
- Zelda at The NES Files
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