"many years ago princeThe first game in The Legend of Zelda franchise, the original Legend of Zelda was a top-down Action-Adventure Hack and Slash, with a very nonlinear setup. Originally released as The Hyrule Fantasy: Zelda no Densetsu for the Family Computer Disk System's launch in Japan, in North America and Europe, it was the first game for the Nintendo Entertainment System to use a battery-backed save feature, and was released, as a gimmick, in a gold cartridge rather than standard gray.Both the original adventure and the "second quest" would eventually be remade as BS Zelda no Densetsu, an enhanced version for a satellite-based Super Famicom add-on.The story, as told through an Engrish-filled opening title scroll,note is that the evil Ganon had stolen the Triforce of Power, and captured Princess Zelda, holder of the Triforce of Wisdom. However, to keep the Triforce from falling into Ganon's hands she had split it into 8 pieces and hid them in the eight dungeons across Hyrule. Link, the hero, must gather the 8 pieces, allowing him to enter Ganon's lair, defeat him, claim the Triforce of Power, and Save the Princess. Unlike the later games, there was little character interaction other than the vague hints given by various old men, and not much in the way of sidequests. There weren't even Pieces of Heart - instead, full Container Hearts were found around the map.This has had some fan remixes over the years, including Zelda Classic.According to Hyrule Historia, this is the second-to-last game in the "Hero Defeated" timeline; its immediate sequel is the last.
darkness "GANNON" stole
one of the TRIFORCE with
power. princess zelda
had one of the TRIFORCE
with wisdom. she divided
it into "8" units to hide
it from "GANNON" before
she was captured.
GO FIND THE "8" UNITS
"LINK" TO SAVE HER."
darkness "GANNON" stole
one of the TRIFORCE with
power. princess zelda
had one of the TRIFORCE
with wisdom. she divided
it into "8" units to hide
it from "GANNON" before
she was captured.
GO FIND THE "8" UNITS
"LINK" TO SAVE HER."
— The introduction, in all its original glory.
IT'S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THESE EXAMPLES:
- Ability Required to Proceed:
- Notably averted in this title. All of Hyrule, save for two screens, can be explored from the start. Doing so, however, is likely to get you killed.
- The trope is prominent in the remake, BS Zelda no Densetsu, where it interestingly combines with Broken Bridge. Certain obstacle-clearing items or events only appear or occur during certain broadcast weeks (for example, the Candle is needed in order to access the western portion of the map, but is only sold after the first week). One could wait until a later week and try to sequence break, but this defeats the purpose anyways, and the player only having one hour a week, or certain items becoming unobtainable.
- Abnormal Ammo: This game uses your Rupees as ammunition for your arrows for some reason, most likely technical limitations.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: This particular Link is brunette in canon, which is very uncommon in the series. However, some of the artwork still depicts him as blonde or strawberry blonde. Some of the merchandise for the sequel even makes it look bleached.
- Ambiguously Christian: Link, by Word of God. He has a Crucifix on his shield and carries a Holy Bible in his inventory, and he's willing to selflessly and unquestioningly risk his life to rid the world of evil.
- Animated Adaptation: The cartoon was primarily based on this, with elements of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
- Anime Hair: Link, although you would never tell from the sprites. In addition to the long sideburns from other games, his bangs also point straight forward.
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- Nintendo of America was well aware that new players would be lost and confused, so the original game box came bundled with a map to help guide players through the game. None of the ports or rereleases kept this, since internet guides have made such a map superflous.
- Due to how open the world is, its possible to run out of keys, so the game allows you to buy them at shops so your quest doesn't become unwinnable.
- Bat Out of Hell: Vire and Keese.
- Beef Gate:
- The Lynels that populate the Death Mountain area in the northwest of the map. They're by far the nastiest enemies you'll find in the overworld, with the orange Lynels taking 4 hits from the Wooden Sword to kill and the blue ones taking about 7, and both varieties shoot a sword projectile that requires the Magical Shield to deflect, while dealing a hefty 2 hearts of damage when they hit. A single one can easily slaughter a beginning player, and you will find swarms of them in the northwest, effectively keeping the player out of that region until they acquire some more hearts, the White Sword, the Magical Shield, and preferably the Blue Ring.
- The Manhandla that is the boss of Level 3-1. Manhandla is incredibly hard to kill with any weapon weaker than the White Sword - it has four different heads to kill, and each one takes four strikes with the Wooden Sword to destroy. If you haven't gotten the White Sword (or don't know about Manhandla's bomb weakness) you aren't going to have an easy time finishing that level. To a lesser extent the Zols that heavily populate 3-1. The White Sword kills them easily, but the Wooden Sword splits them into two Gels and then they respawn every time you leave and reenter a room.
- "Begone" Bribe: "IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY." The Molblin is bribing Link to leave him alone and not tell anyone where he is.
- The Bible: One actually exists in the game. It acts as a permanent power amplifier to the Magical Rod, by causing it's shots to burst into flames. Some players think this actually makes it weaker (since the flaming projectiles use the same sprite as the fireballs from far weaker blue candle), however: the original Magical Rod projectile is actually fired in addition to the fire, and thus does damage from the beam and the fire, not just the fire. The Bible was changed into a Magic Book in regions outside of Japan. It's worth noting that the Bible outright condemns witchcraft.
- Big Bad: Ganon.
- Blackout Basement: Starts and is most prevalent in Level 4 of the first quest, where nearly every room is pitch black. However, Level 5 is a close runner-up. In later dungeons, it becomes more of a random gimmick. The Blue and Red Candle can light up the entire room, but it goes pitch black again should you leave.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: To the point that it actually severely increases the difficulty of the game. A lot of the trial-and-error aspects of the game would have been averted if the messages had been rendered properly, and indeed Japanese speakers who played the Japanese version have traditionally cited the enemies as being the primary reason for the game's Nintendo Hard difficulty, rather than the difficulty of finding dungeon entrances and hidden treasures. That being said, there's one notable hint given by the old man in level 8 where he says "10th enemy has the bomb". The Japanese version has him give a hint about the Magical Key instead. However, the English hint about the bombs is actually true, but how you get bombs from a "10th" enemy isn't exactly explained. Explanation
- Bold Inflation: The intro scroll.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Some enemies you don't encounter until later in the game (blue Darknuts, blue Wizzrobes) can be tougher than some of the early game bosses like Aquamentus and Manhandla.
- Boss Rush: Level 7 has three Digdoggers and two sets of three Dodongos before meeting the dungeon's actual boss, Aquamentus. Some of the bosses in the level can be ignored. Level 9 has eight bosses you can encounter before reaching Ganon, though you won't have to fight them all if you know where you're going.
- The Cameo: According to the Japanese instruction booklet, Digdogger and Manhandla are respectively a Unira from Clu Clu Land and a Piranha Plant from Super Mario Bros. (incidentally, Rupees use Ingot sprites from the former). This is removed from localized manuals. The Bubble enemy may also be an allusion to the latter game's [Lava] Bubbles (then known as Podobos).
- Cast from Money: Arrows in this game drain Rupees when fired due to a lack of a proper ammo system.
- Classic Cheat Code:
- Naming your saved game ZELDA (or at least starting the name with ZELDA, so ZELDARA would trigger this too) starts you off on the second quest.
- Pressing Up+ A on the player 2 controller takes you to the Continue/Save/Retry screen immediately, so you can save without having to die. In rereleases on platforms where you can't plug in a second controller, substitute commands are used, such as Up+Select on the GBA version.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Red is used for things that favor Link, while blue favors his enemies. Most of the upgraded items are red, and special items like the Power Bracelet are also red. Weaker enemies are red, while stronger ones are blue. The first two dungeons are colored blue, and there are no red dungeons. Finally, Ganon himself is colored blue, but the ashes shown after his death are red.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: There are at least three adaptations: Two being manga works and one being the Valiant Comics series, authorized by Nintendo and based on this and Zelda II.
- Convection Schmonvection: Every dungeon located on Death Mountain in the first quest has lava in place of water. Not only is Link unaffected by it, but he can also cross narrow flows of it with a wooden Stepladder. It gets better: the lava is completely invisible in the dark.
- Crapsack World: There are no cities or villages. The entirety of Hyrule is a wilderness overrun with monsters, and the few scattered Hylians are hiding out in caves and ruins. The Hyrule in this game is not a nice place at all. This is explained in the sequel, where the play area of this game is revealed to be a very tiny, remote part of Hyrule, located at the southern end of Death Mountain.
- Creepy Cool Crosses: All the tombstones in the graveyard have crosses on them, as do Link's shields and the Book of Magic. Word of God explains that the motif is caused by the fact that the original plan was to have Christianity as the main religion in Hyrule; the three goddesses weren't invented until after the two NES games were released. Because those two games are the last in their timeline (the other games all being prequels), one common theory is that the old Hylian religion waned over the centuries and was eventually left behind in favor of Christian religion.
- Damage Discrimination: Played straight with bombs, averted with the Candles and the "Book of Magic"-enhanced Magical Rod.
- Dark Reprise: Of the item fanfare in particular, when Link buys a key. The game basically plays the same track but without a treble clef, making it sound like the game is disappointed in you for having to resort to this.
- Death Mountain: The Trope Namer.
- Dem Bones: Stalfos, the skeletons who wander around in dungeons. They get upgraded to firing sword beams in the second quest.
- Denial of Diagonal Attack: Link is only able to move in four directions and his main attack is a straight-forward stab, which makes it difficult to attack things that you'd rather not be standing directly in front of.
- With a little finesse, you can throw the boomerang diagonally, but that's it.
- Destructive Saviour: There's a lot of secret rooms hidden behind walls and bushes which requires Link to do a lot of demolition and burning. Unlike later games, these destructible points are not visually hinted at in any way, making for a major case of Guide Dang It.
- Difficult but Awesome: Bombs have a time delay, stay put when used, have a somewhat limited range, and suffer from low capacity. However, their power is equal to that of the Magical Sword, and they are one of, if not the easiest side-weapons to get in the game. When used in tandem with other items (e.g. bait, boomerang), bombs can capably clear screens where you're otherwise overmatched early in the game. In the first quest, bombs are also essential in acquiring the Disc One Nuke; see below.
- Difficulty by Region: A very minor example — the North American version added Keese to a couple of originally empty rooms.
- Pols Voices are much harder to deal with outside Japan. This becomes most apparent in the second quest, where they appear before the bow.
- Disc One Nuke:
- For newcomers who are unacquainted with how to find everything, the Boomerang is a big boon to have, and it can be found in the first dungeon. It requires no ammo, it has a long range and it can stun any enemy except for the bosses, either letting you evade them easier or giving you a free shot at attacking them (especially useful if you're at full health and are thus able to use the Sword Beam), which is very, very helpful in a game with a lot of close quarter combat. It also kills minor mooks like Keese as a bonus.
- If you know where to look, are somewhat good at evasion, and willing to grind Rupees for a few minutes, it is possible to get three of the five overworld Container Hearts and therefore the White Sword, and the Blue Ring before entering the very first dungeon in the first quest. The three extra hearts and the White Sword can easily be gotten quickly and will allow you to breeze through at least the first half of the game, but the ring is very expensive at 250 Rupees (five away from the maximum) and thus requires more time spent finding hidden rooms in the overworld for larger caches of Rupees if you want to buy it quickly (and without savescumming or Rupee-farming), but it is also a major boon to have itself. (You can also manipulate the money-making game with Save Scumming, which will greatly cut down on the time necessary to farm Rupees). Averted in the second quest where four of the five overworld Heart Containers require special items to get. With the remaining one, you still need to get the Power Bracelet and then make your way to the graveyard. Good luck not getting your ass handed to you by the Lynels. At a minimum, you're doing the first dungeon with the Wooden Sword.
- It's also possible to get the Magical Key in the first quest with the treasure from just one dungeon, namely the bow. Granted, it's rather difficult, but doing this makes the rest of the quest a breeze.
- In the second quest, it's possible to get the Magical Key with just the Recorder and the Stepladder, and since the Magical Key is found in the eighth dungeon, which doesn't feature any enemies harder than Blue Goriyas and this quest's revamped Stalfos, it might actually be easier to pull off in this quest (although getting the Stepladder is no small feat since it involves dealing with Wizzrobes).
- This is by no means easy, and may be harder in the long run, but it is possible to get the Magical Rod in dungeon six without any other items than bombs. It will be extremely difficult to get past all of the Wizzrobes with your starting gear, but if you succeed, you'll have a weapon that will totally annihilate everything that gets in your way for at least the first half of the game.
- Dub Name Change: Most notably Bible to "Book of Magic" between the Disk System and NES releases, but also Tartnuc became Darknut, and Testitart became Manhandla. Later installments also renamed Molbins to Moblins and Zolas to Zoras.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Rather minor since it isn't explicitly mentioned in the game itself, but as mentioned above, the crosses are because Christianity was supposed to be Hyrule's religion; the mythology of the Golden Goddesses came later. A less minor example is the fact that there are no NPC-filled towns and NPCs are rather rare; oddly enough, this was rectified in the next game, which is generally considered to be the Oddball in the Series.
- Collecting the map only alters the radar at the top of the screen, and doesn't affect the map Link creates in dungeons at all. In order to figure out where they haven't been, players have to actually compare the two.
- Also of note is that Link is going after the Triforce "with" Wisdom instead of the Triforce of Courage. The existence of the Triforce of Courage wasn't even hinted at until the second game was released.
- The game also has the Clock item, which freezes all enemies on screen and makes Link invincible in the current area. The Clock would not return until Hyrule Warriors.
- The lowest Rupee units are not green (since Rupees shared their palettes with the enemy characters), but flash between yellow and blue (though they're identified as "yellow" only). Also, the manual called them "rubies" while the in-game intro referred to the singular version of them as "rupy".
- This title, and to a slightly lesser extent the sequel, lacks the elaborate story-lines the series is famous for. There really isn't much in terms of dialogue and the fact there are so few NPCs makes it even more noticeable.
- Firing arrows would deplete your Rupees for every shot due to the game not having a proper ammo system for the arrows.
- While Fairies are around to heal you, there's no bottles to hold them in like the later games did, so you really had to be careful with taking damage. They also only heal 3 hearts.
- The Compass only shows where the Triforce fragment is located. Later games would have the Compass show the location of the dungeon's treasure chests and the location of the boss. The Map and Compass in the first game were found by either killing all enemies in the room or were in just plain sight while later games would have the two items be inside treasure chests.
- There are no treasure chests, so any item inside dungeons either just appears out of thin air when all enemies are defeated or are just lying around in the open.
- Keys were interchangeable, meaning you could use any key on any door in any dungeon, making it possible to run out of keys. Luckily, you could also buy keys from a shop if you happened to run out, though the concept of buying keys would stay in the first game. Zelda II continues this trend, but you can bypass locked doors with the Fairy spell. Starting with the third game, all keys can only be used in the dungeons they're found within.
- The dungeons were named after the shapes of their maps: Dungeon 1 was "Eagle," Dungeon 2 was "Moon," and so on.
- Upgrading your sword requires you to have your life meter have a certain number of hearts before the old men would allow you to claim your new sword. This wouldn't happen again until 31 years later in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild where 13 heart containers are required to pull out the Master Sword.
- Link cannot move diagonally.
- Link only stabs straight forward with his sword instead of slashing with it
- Eleventh Hour Superpower: The Red Ring and Silver Arrows, both located within the final dungeon of both quests (you need all 8 Triforce pieces to even get in, so they're really only useful in said dungeon). In the second quest, the Arrows can be obtained fairly early on, but the Ring is located only a few rooms away from where Ganon is, so you really only get to use it on him (and for self satisfaction that you got every item).
- Empty Room Psych: While most levels were fairly straightforward, the ninth dungeon and several second quest dungeons tended to feature these.
- Exact Words: One of the old ladies in the cave says "Pay me and I'll talk." So, you give her a good chunk of Rupees, hoping for some great information about what to do next... and she says "Boy, you're rich." Well, she did say that she would talk if you gave her money...
- Faceless Eye: Patra.
- Feed It a Bomb: The usual method of killing Dodongos, introduced in this game. It's also possible to beat them by detonating a bomb near them instead of having them eat it, since it stuns them and lets you kill them with one hit from your sword (much harder to pull off, but takes half as many bombs)note . As the old sages say, "DODONGO DISLIKES SMOKE".
- Feelies: The game came with a poster-sized map which had the locations of most of the dungeons and could be used for taking notes. Much to the general annoyance of people who owned the original, this map has not been re-released with any of the remakes.
- Flash of Pain: Both Link and the enemies, when hit.
- Flip-Screen Scrolling
- The Foreign Subtitle: Inverted, its title The Hyrule Fantasy was dropped from international releases.
- Friendly Fireproof: Old men, old women, bribing Molblins, and shopkeepers cannot be injured by your sword or items, since they just pass right through. Old men in labyrinths, for some reason, can be hit. See Mugging the Monster for a bit more.
- Game Mod: Several; the best-known (and best) is probably Zelda Challenge: Outlands.
- Giant Eye of Doom: Tektites, Digdogger, and especially Gohma and Patra.
- Give Me Your Inventory Item: GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE...
- LEAVE YOUR LIFE OR MONEY.
- Glass Cannon: Red Wizzrobes' spells deal twice as much damage as that of Blue Wizzrobes - tied with Ganon himself for the most damage of any enemy in the game in fact - but take less hits to kill, do less damage on bumping into them than the Blue ones, and have movement patterns that leave them more vulnerable.
- Go for the Eye: Again, Gohma and Patra.
- Good Bad Translation: The origin of Gannon-Banned, among other things.
- Guide Dang It: Some can consider the entire game as a guide game, meaning you need a strategy guide to even know what to do next or where to go. It was intentional by the developers since they wanted players to exchange information with each other as they played. That being said, there's still many notable moments below that screams guide dang it.
- Try to get through the second quest without looking at a map. Just try. You'll probably get to about Level 3 before giving in.
- Starting with Level 2, the labyrinths in the second quest feature walls you must walk through (by holding down that direction for a couple of seconds) instead of bombing in order to proceed. There is nothing whatsoever in the manual or the game itself indicating this new twist in gameplay.
- Most of the game, really, especially with the "Blind Idiot" Translation. Miyamoto outright admits that the game was designed to support player collaboration (ex. walkthroughs from more experienced players).
- Obtaining the White and Magical Swords requires you to have a certain amount of Heart Containers, but the only hint you are given is you must "master using it" (referring to the sword). The Japanese version had a similar hint.
- Pushing blocks in dungeons is required to reveal a staircase or to reach a visible one more easily. Nothing in the game tells you that you can push blocks.
- Getting past the Goryia in a dungeon who says "Grumble, grumble..." will go away if you give him the food item. While one can argue that the grumble phrase is a hint that he is hungry, it's not obvious at first and can be mistaken for something else.
- Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: While a few of the bosses like Gleeok and Manhandla can provide a decent challenge, especially early in the game, they're a breeze compared to the difficult moments where you're constantly dealing with the Demonic Spiders that crowd areas, corner the player, and work alongside other enemy types to cover their weaknesses. In particular, the blue Wizzrobes are one of the nastiest enemies in the series' history, especially so as they appear with red Wizzrobes, Bubbles, and Like Likes. Then the rest of the bosses are flatout jokes.
- Heart Container: The Trope Namer, although they were originally called "Container Hearts" in this game.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Averted; you can name your file whatever you wish, but Zelda will always use Link's name in the ending. Later games would play the trope straight.
- Here There Were Dragons: Unlike later games, magic (while it does show up) doesn't play a large role. The artbook Hyrule Historia officially calls the NES games "The Era of Hyrule's Decline".
- Heroes Want Redheads: The sprite and artwork of Princess Zelda are shown with red/brown hair.
- Inconsistent Dub: The English manual translation often doesn't match the in-game version, such as Ruby instead of Rupy (later Rupee), Whistle actually being Recorder, Magic Wand rather than Magical Rod, and (most infamously) Ganon instead of Gannon.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Multi-headed dragons (Gleeoks) as bosses.
- Another dragon called Aquamentus is the first dungeon's boss. He's also level 7's boss, but he hasn't gotten any stronger. You, on the other hand...
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Used to a higher degree here than in any other title in the series. Not only would keys transfer over from dungeon to dungeon, but you could even buy extras if you somehow managed to run out.
- There was also a "Magical Key" that left off the "antimatter" part.
- Invincible Minor Minion: "Bubbles" were flaming skulls that disable Link's ability to use a sword for awhile. There was absolutely no way to kill them. This was even worse in the Second Quest, where two new versions were added — a red one which took away the sword ability completely, and a blue one which restored it. Touching the first required touching the second, which was sometimes in a completely different room. You could also drink a Water of Life to end the red-Bubble effect, but with the Nintendo Hard already cranked Up to Eleven in the second quest, this is widely considered a bad move.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: The memetic use of "It's dangerous to go alone! Take this!" could make this game the Trope Codifier.
- Jesus Taboo: the Bible is translated as "Magic Book" in English. Also, in a case of Earth Drift, all games past the first two no longer feature crosses on the shields.
- The Japanese guide for a later game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, features an illustration of Link praying in front of a large crucifix.◊ The actual game contains a structure known as the "Sanctuary", which many people theorize is actually a church, due to the building's layout and the use of stained-glass windows. (The Japanese script outright confirms it, calling it kyōkai.)
- Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Averted in this game. Two shops may sell the same item, but not for the same price. You actually can shop around for the best deals on certain items.
- Kid Hero: According to the Hyrule Historia, this incarnation of Link is only ten years old.
- Kill It with Fire:
- For Link, he has the Candle, and the Magical Rod after you find the Book of Magic.
- The Old Man in some of the dungeons will start launching fireballs at Link should he hurt him.
- Knockback: Both with Link and the enemies, some of which are sent flying all the way across the screen. Link can actually get knocked back into another enemy and take more damage.
- Kung-Fu Proof Mook: Several enemies are immune to various parts of your arsenal. Some simply require a specific subweapon to defeat, but just as common are enemies that can only be dealt with using the sword.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: If a monster has a red or orange version and a blue version, the blue version is generally tougher. The only exception is the blue Bubbles, which are far less annoying than the red versions. Red Potions and the Red Ring are also twice as beneficial to Link over their blue counterparts.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The designs of the second quest's first five labyrinths look like blocky letters which spell out "ZELDA".
- Legacy Character: Link and Zelda. Ganon, however, is the same individual from Ocarina of Time, having been resurrected between this game and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
- MacGuffin: The pieces of the Triforce.
- Man-Eating Plant: Peahat, Manhandla, and (arguably) Leever.
- Marathon Level: Level 9 in both quests are absurdly huge. Even if you know where to go, it'll take awhile to get there.
- The Maze: Two of them - The Lost Woods and the Lost Hills.
- Arguably, Level 9 in both quests, and the majority of the labyrinths in the second.
- Level 8 in the second quest is unique in that the maze itself is the big challenge to the labyrinth. The labyrinth has the Goriya/Rope/Stalfos enemy theme, but it's also got more secret passages than any other level in the game, including a half dozen or so one-way passages, and a lot of automatically locking doors to force you back to the beginning if you take even one misstep.
- Money to Throw Away: The bow works this way, as, rather than having a stock of arrows like in the later games, each arrow you fire costs you a Rupee. If you run out of Rupees, the bow becomes useless until you collect more.
- Mooks Ate My Equipment: Like Likes. If you let one touch you, it quickly envelops you and you can pretty much kiss your Magical Shield (if you have one) goodbye. Your only chance to escape without losing your Magical Shield is to have the Magical Sword and give it the required three stabs as quickly as possible. If you have anything less than the Magical Sword, you'd better hope you were caught by one that has already taken damage!
- Mook Bouncer: The Wallmasters, which reside in the dungeons and take Link back to the first room if they catch him.
- Mugging the Monster: See those old men just passing out information? Don't hurt them, because some of them will start firing fireballs at you and kill you.
- New Game+: As was not uncommon in those days, there is a "second quest" with a remixed extra-hard layout.
- Nintendo Hard: Only slightly more forgiving than its notoriously difficult sequel. Focusing more on combat than puzzles, this is by far the hardest of the standard style games. If you started on the later games, it even combines with Surprise Difficulty.
- Non-Nazi Swastika: The third dungeon in the first quest is shaped like a manji, aka a reverse-swastika.
- Permanently Missable Content: In the second quest, some of the old men in the dungeons ask for 50 Rupees, and if you don't have that, you must give up a Container Heart. Not as in one unit of health, we mean one heart of your life capacity.note In both quests, there are old men who offer you a choice between a Container Heart or a 2nd Potion. You can buy red potions, you can't buy heart containers. Potions are expendable. Always take the Container Heart.
- Piņata Enemy: The Tektites and Leevers along the southern border of the map. Easy Money Grinding to be found there.
- Player Death Is Dramatic: Trope Codifier; the entire turns red as Link dies before fading to black as he finally disappears.
- Power Up Letdown:
- The Candle (both versions) is fairly useless because of its extremely short range, it not working on certain enemies, and causing self inflicted damage to Link if you walk into your own fire. They do light up dark rooms and burn down select bushes, but that's it.
- The Clock is a wonderful one-use item which freezes all enemies on the screen — however, it has an annoying tendency to drop from the last creature you kill on the screen, rendering it utterly useless. It also will leave moving Peahats invulnerable, and it also prevents Wall Masters from spawning — which sounds great at first, but the path to the boss often requires killing every Wall Master in the room to open the door or gain a key.
- Purposely Overpowered: The game itself regards the Water of Life as this. This is why you need to show a Letter to the old woman, and the source of temptation over passing on Container Hearts.US Instruction Booklet: The water of life is a medicine that can beat anything. So, those who don't have the right credentials can't buy it.
- Pyro Maniac: Link has always had a thing for bombs, and this was the only game in the series (until the Oracle games) that required you to start several forest fires in order to progress.
- Random Drop: Enemies and bosses will drop recovery hearts, Rupees, Bombs, Fairies, or the time-stopping Clock. Bosses guarding a Triforce fragment always drop a Container Heart.
- Rainbow Speak: The intro.
- Railroading: Distinctly averted in contrast to the sequels. The game is very open and non-linear, to the point that all but two screens in Hyrule can be explored right off the bat, and you can get as far as Ganon (but not beat him) without even grabbing the sword. The ability to buy keys instead of searching for them allows you to travel through any dungeon at your own pace.
- Recurring Boss: All of them except the final boss, sort of.
- Level 4: Manhandla, boss of the third dungeon, returns as a miniboss.
- Level 5: Three Dodongos show up for a miniboss battle, where a single one served as the final boss of the second dungeon.
- Level 6: The two-headed dragon boss of the fourth dungeon, Gleeok, shows up as a miniboss sporting a third head.
- Level 7: The fifth dungeon's boss, Digdogger, returns for a miniboss battle, followed later on by another trio of Dodongos. Later still, another Digdogger appears, and this one splits into three during the battle. Finally, the boss of this level is Aquamentus, the boss of the first dungeon.
- Level 8: A total of three Manhandlas appear in this dungeon, as do two Gohmas which, due to the Law of Chromatic Superiority, require three times as many hits to defeat as the one that served as the final boss of the sixth dungeon. The final boss is a four-headed Gleeok.
- Rapunzel Hair: It's hard to tell from the sprites, but Zelda's hair goes down to her ankles. Most other Zeldas have their hair from mid- to lower-back. They're also blonde instead of brunette.
- Ring of Power: The Blue Ring halves damage Link takes; the Red Ring reduces it to a quarter.
- Save-Game Limits: Sort of. Unless you know the Player 2 Up + A code, the only way to save is to die.
- The 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console versions completely avert it. The restore point feature allows one to save anywhere at anytime.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: The game hits a major difficulty spike about halfway through the first quest with the introduction of tough enemies such as Wizzrobes and Darknuts. The beginning of the second quest is even harder, as you must deal with such enemies much earlier on and with less equipment/life at your disposal. The difficulty rapidly subsides as you near the end of the second quest, however, as you continue to get stronger while the game's challenge begins to come more from increasingly complex/confusing dungeon layouts than from strong enemies (whom you see less of at this point than you did in the first quest).
- Self-Imposed Challenge: A number of players have worked out how to get through the entire game (except for the final boss) without using a sword. Dorkly parodied this in this video, wherein Link uses his shield to finish Ganon off too (no, you can't do this in the actual game).
- Sequence Breaking: Quite a lot, perhaps unsurprisingly:
- Later games carefully worked out where you could find and use keys so that none were left over and no doors were left locked; this one didn't do that, so you can easily clear level 2 with about six or seven of them in reserve, making it even easier to beat some of the later dungeons.
- There is also very little to force you to do the dungeon levels in order. A few are unreachable (or more difficult) without treasures found in others, but even a level that couldn't be reached without, say, the raft didn't require you to actually complete the level in which you find the raft. This was by design, but careful planning allows you to delay even the first boss fight until you have many more power-ups than you would have otherwise. This is pretty much vital if you are playing a swordless quest.
- Theoretically, you're supposed to clear the first two dungeons before obtaining the White Sword, but since what qualifies you to "master using it" is not the number of dungeons you clear but the amount of Container Hearts you have (5), you can easily pick up two free ones in the overworld map using bombs and grab the White Sword before taking on any dungeons at all. The Magic Sword, meanwhile, requires 12 hearts to obtain, so it can be nabbed right after you beat Level 4 by getting the two remaining Container Hearts on the eastern shore, making Levels 5 and [especially] 6 much easier.
- Sequential Boss: Level 6 in the second quest ends with a battle against Manhandla in the room immediately before Gohma at the end of the level.
- Stock Sound Effects: Aquamentus, Gleeok, and Ganon all use a pterodactyl roar lifted straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, just in low-quality (and low pitch.) Something similar may also apply to the noise made by Manhandla, Digdogger, and Patra.
- Sword Beam: If your life meter is filled to maximum capacity, you can fire these at distant enemies. This is notable because the beam, unlike many later Zelda titles, carries the same power level as the blade itself, and they hit everything the sword hits as well (later games have enemies that are immune to the sword beam). Needless to say, getting the Magical Sword as early as possible is a major boon; even the White Sword is an improvement.
- Talking with Signs: As Link is a Heroic Mime in the series proper, perhaps this is the only way he could truly talk. He holds up a sign saying "PLEASE LOOK UP THE MANUAL FOR DETAILS" in the opening scroll.
- Time Stands Still: If an enemy drops a Clock, it will freeze all remaining enemies on the screen. However, this will not change their vulnerability — if a Peahat is still moving when the watch is grabbed, it will remain invulnerable. The effect ends when Link moves to a new screen.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Due to graphical limitations, there's no clue as to which walls are bomb-able, which trees are burnable, and which screens have a "magic effect" when you blow the Recorder. Young Link is truly the most destructive fellow in Hyrule: in order to complete both quests (and particularly the second) you'll have attempted to destroy everything in the land. The original game came with a poster-size map of the overworld, so you could mark off your reign of terror as you went, and make notes of where the quest 2 dungeons are found (the overworld has the same layout, but the dungeons are remixed).
- Tutorial Failure: In the instruction manual, the Pols Voice enemy is said to "hate loud noise". Naturally, the player would assume that their weakness would be the Recorder, then, but that's not the case at all. It does absolutely nothing to the Pols Voice. What the manual is actually referring to is the built-in microphone found in the Family Computer, the Japanese version of the NES, the functionality of which was removed entirely for the American release. This is fixed in later games, where musical items will kill the Pols Voices.
- Uncommon Time: The final dungeon music could be counted as patterns of seven bars, or as 14/4 or something like that depending on how the rhythms are divided. The unusual rhythm (it feels like part of the piece is missing) further contributes to the unsettling nature of the music.
- Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: Every dungeon has two maps: one that Link makes and one that he finds. Unlike later games, the latter will not fill in the former or show where he has been, so the player has to actually compare the two maps on their own.
- In a way, possible in the second quest. Several rooms have all their doors slam shut until you defeat all of the non-Bubble enemies in them. If you get tagged by one of the red Bubbles (which remove your ability to use a sword until you touch a blue Bubble) in such a room without a blue Bubble, then you're down to whatever subweapons you have on hand. It's quite possible to be out of uses (if you haven't gotten unlimited-use ones like the wand or the Red Candle yet) and stuck in the room. Fortunately, you can just quit and retry even should all those conditions apply.
- In the First Quest, the game is pretty good about providing you with more than enough keys to unlock any door you come across, except in the final dungeon, which assumes you have the Magical Key (which acts as infinite keys). While it's possible to complete all the goals of the dungeon (get the map and compass, both power-ups, kill the Big Bad, and rescue the Damsel in Distress) without either the Magical Key or buying extra regular keys, wandering around without keys can potentially leave you in a room with no exit, except to immolate yourself and respawn at the entrance. And if you've somehow managed to get that far without either the Red Candle or the Book of Magic...
- Gohma cannot be defeated by any other method other than using the bow and arrows. If you run out of Rupees, which act as your ammo for arrows, you're boned. Likewise, Ganon can't be defeated without the Silver Arrow.
- Updated Re-release: The GBA "NES Classics" edition touched up the translation in spots, notably in the introduction.
- Useless Useful Spell: Part of what makes the second quest so difficult is that certain "useless" items get a lot more mileage on their next go around, as they become essential to finding many helpful power-ups. The only indication you receive of this is finding said items much earlier in the game than before.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Level 9 - Death Mountain. You know you're there: "Spectacle Rock" is the overground architecture in the first quest (and the map, a skull, is by far the largest in the game). The music is much creepier than that used in the first eight dungeons, there are much stronger enemies that only appear in Level 9 in either quest, and these levels are much more mazelike than their predecessors. In addition, if you don't have all eight Triforce pieces, a guardian awaits in the first room beyond the entrance with some gratuitous Engrish.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
- If you attack the old men in the dungeons, they respond by having their campfires shoot fireballs at you until you go away. The ones encountered on the surface simply can't be hit.
- Bombing certain walls or burning certain bushes can reveal a secret room. Some of the rooms are actually homes of an old man who will demand that you pay him for the door repairs.
- Villain Forgot to Level Grind:
- In the first quest, Aquamentus, boss of level one, returns as the boss of level seven with no improvements whatsoever. Two hits is all it takes and the Magical Shield can block its beams.
- Averted in the second quest with originally weak enemies such as Stalfos, who can now throw swords, and the Ropes, who now take more hits (and flash).
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Three examples.
- Aquamentus in Level 1-1. Once you have the White Sword and Magical Shield he's easy as pie, but if you go after it with just the Wooden Sword and Shield, you're going to be frantically dodging his beams and trying to stabs in between his shots. And it takes 6 hits from the Wooden Sword whereas you can sustain 3 hits from it if you're at full life. Basically, Aquamentus is there to prove that you can't just stab your way through the game.
- Manhandla in Level 3-1. He's incredibly hard to kill with just the Wooden Sword and basically exists to make sure you're being careful to get better weapons.
- Gleeok (2 heads) in Level 2-2. With no way to get the White Sword, he's going to take a total of 16 hits. And he'll be able to kill you in only 2. This is where it becomes crystal clear that the second quest is designed to grind you up.
- Wall Master: The Trope Namer. These ones are disembodied hands that creep out of the wall and, if they hit Link, drag him back to the entrance of the dungeon. They're also quite generous with dropping blue Rupees and life hearts though, and they aren't that durable, so players who aren't creeped out by them may be happy to encounter them.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: The opening crawl really goes to town with quotation marks.
- Warp Whistle: The Recorder. Link can also use the Power Bracelet to access Warp Zones between four areas.
- Wide Open Sandbox: One of the reasons the game was so well liked was that you can go anywhere in the game from the start (sans two certain areas)—there is nearly no Railroading elements in the game at all.
- A Winner is You: "THANKS LINK, YOU'RE THE HERO OF HYRULE."
- Wrong Genre Savvy: One of the caves gives you information if you pay the right amount of Rupees. Video game logic is that if you want the tip that will help you advance, you should pay the highest amount available. Alas, that results in "boy, you're rich." The second-highest amount is the one that yields useful information.
DODONGO DISLIKES INDEXES.