Saturday 18 April 2020

The Legend of Zelda (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1987

The Legend of Zelda is an action-adventure game that was originally released in 1986 on the Family Computer Disk System.

As Link, your mission is to save Princess Zelda by recovering all eight pieces of the Triforce and destroying the evil Ganon. Your main weapon is a sword, but alternatives such as boomerangs, bow and arrows and bombs can be obtained. For a mid-1980s title, the open world gameplay gives you an unprecedented amount of freedom in how you approach each play session; in fact, the best part is how hours can be spent avoiding dungeons entirely and instead simply taking in the beauty and mystique of the intriguing environments. This autonomy is a theme that runs through the entire game, as the multitude of upgradeable weaponry gives you a ton of ways to tackle each screen. Learning how to use each item to inflict maximum damage to the wide range of enemy types is fun, and I like how you're rewarded for skillful play by possessing a Sword Beam projectile if you have a full life metre. The dungeons are expertly designed too and include many twists and turns so you're not always following a linear path straight to the boss. However, that's not to say that the gameplay is perfect. For instance, enemies have an annoying habit of spawning on top of your sprite (giving you barely any time to avoid taking damage), and it can be annoying to work your way through a dungeon, only to later find out that you need a specific item from the overworld to complete it. Also, while the inclusion of secret pathways and heart containers (to increase your life metre) are much appreciated, their locations are often very obscure unless you spend time burning and bombing everything in sight.

For such an early title in the NES library, there's just so much to do and see in The Legend of Zelda that you can't help but be impressed by what Nintendo managed to achieve. Sure, it can be rather ambiguous at times (and most players will require a guide), but its huge scale and deep gameplay is a compelling combination.

Random trivia: In the Family Computer Disk System version, the Pols Voice enemies can be defeated by speaking into the console's built-in microphone on controller 2.

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