Exploring The Legend of Zelda’s Greatness
It’s far from a bold opinion to say that The Legend of Zelda is the greatest video game franchise of all time. The longevity, quality, and character of the series is second to none. But, I figured the popularity of my opinion shouldn’t stop me from sharing my own thoughts and experiences with the franchise.
My first Zelda experience was with Ocarina of Time. Both my neighbor and my older cousin had received that gold cartridge for Christmas, and I had no idea why they were going so crazy over it. I was 8 years-old, had just gotten my N64 for Christmas, and was more than happy enough to be playing Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside.
After realizing there was more to the N64 than sports games, I gave Ocarina of Time a chance at my cousin’s house. Even at that age I could tell it was a beautiful, well-designed game, but holy fuck was I overwhelmed. I could only make it to the first Bowser in Mario 64, and I couldn’t make it past the lava planet in Star Fox. How was I supposed to get anything done in a game where you actually had to navigate your way around without having your hand held? Finally locating the shield and sword, and then making my way to the Deku Tree was a huge accomplishment. Making it any further was hopeless.
I skipped Majora’s Mask, Windwaker, and the GameBoy games. I hadn’t fully caught Zelda fever yet. Too busy focusing on Mario and Pokemon, I guess. When Twilight Princess came out, however, it caught my eye. I rented the Wii version from Blockbuster (kind of hard to imagine renting a game during the Wii era, but it happened), and had an absolute blast with it. I loved the darker graphical style. I hadn’t finished it after a week, so I proceeded to rent it again.
Then I realized Zelda probably isn’t a game you should be renting.
After giving in and buying the copy from Blockbuster, I played through most of Twilight Princess with my older cousin. The same one who used to help me through Mario 64 back in the day. It was a good bonding experience between us. I still wasn’t great at figuring out the cryptic clues within a Zelda game, so I printed off the entire walkthrough. It had to be over 100 pages, so sorry for wasting all your printer ink, dad!
My cousin and I continued to play through the game together, referring to the walkthrough when necessary (pretty often), and felt a huge sense of accomplishment when we finally completed it.
I definitely credit Twilight Princess with catapulting my Zelda fandom to the next level. I always knew the games were great and worthy of my attention, but I never seemed to like them as much as everyone else did. Twilight Princess helped change that.
Since then, I’ve went back and played through some older Zelda games that I missed. A Link to the Past is the absolute best looking 16-bit game I’ve played in my life, and the gameplay is incredibly smooth for that era. That game is the absolute standard for 2D adventure gaming.
I played through Windwaker when the HD re-release came out for Wii U. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so into a game as I was during that playthrough. The graphical style threw me off when it first came out for Gamecube, as it did with many, but I got over that pretty quickly. The bright vibe and the personality that game has is absolutely awesome. I avoided plans with friends when I was nearing completion of the story, and cried my eyes out when it was all over. What an amazing experience of a game.
About a month ago, I picked up the Nintendo Switch. I call it the “Zelda Machine” because Zelda: Breath of the Wild is currently the only reason to own the system. It’s a great reason, though.
It’s definitely the open-world Zelda that we’ve been waiting for. I felt a tad overwhelmed at first because of how big the world is (similar to how I felt the first time I played Ocarina of Time), but that feeling quickly turned into a sense of curiosity and adventure to explore the world around me. Having logged countless hours already, I’ve never had so much fun walking around doing nothing in a video game. It captures the same adventurousness I had as a child walking around the woods with friends. I’m currently about halfway through the main story and am in absolutely no rush to finish it.
So let’s toast to a series that has given us masterpiece after masterpiece, whether it sticks to — or deviates from — its previous formula.
Long live The Legend of Zelda.