My first experience with The Legend of Zelda series was on the SNES in 1993 with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. In that one, Link, a young boy, awakes from sleep, contacted telepathically by a kidnapped princess named Zelda. He then to journeys through a rainstorm and into secret pits next to the castle’s walls to rescue her, eventually trying to track down the Master Sword. It’s a fantastic journey, full of surprises and a killer soundtrack. I’m fine with this being my first taste, genuinely pleased to have such a perfect game start it all. It’s like if the first piece of bacon you ever had was wrapped around succulent lobster and personally served to you by Gordon Ramsay while high as a kite. No bacon could ever beat that bacon.
And so, with the 3DS Ambassador program that gave us early adopters 10 free NES games, I was looking forward to experiencing where it all truly began, back with The Legend of Zelda, no freaking subtitle needed. Little did I expect it to be so…difficult. It’s a challenging game. It’s hard because you only have three hearts to start out with, and each screen you encounter is filled with enemies, the worst being those sandbugs that burrow beneath Link’s feet, surfacing the moment he walks over them. It’s hard because it is unclear where Link should go first, often wasting time exploring the overworld and losing precious hearts. It’s hard because you only have a sword starting out, and to kill enemies you have to get right next to them (unless at full health when you can fire a projectile from the sword), a risk in that if you miss and they move a fraction closer, Link loses some health. And then there’s the dungeons. Fear Wizzrobes (blue and red) and Wall Masters.
Heck, even series producer Eiji Aonuma has never completed it. Yeah, that’s kind of crazy.
At least dying doesn’t truly restart you from square one. Instead, you revive back at that initial overworld screen, that one we’ve all seen time after time after time, with all of your items still in your inventory. Well, I think you lose your dungeon keys though. Can’t confirm that. And so back into the wild Link and I go, nervous yet aware, trying to find some kind of clue as to what’s really going on, and hoping we can at least make it into a dungeon with full health and a couple of bombs…