Video Game / The Legend of Zelda I

"many years ago prince
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.
— The introduction, in all its original glory.

The 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.


  • 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 Lost Forever.
  • Abnormal Ammo: This game uses your Rupies 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.
  • 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.
  • Bat out of Hell: Vire and Keese.
  • Beef Gate: The Manhandla that is the boss of Level 3-1. Manhandla cannot be killed by any weapon weaker than the White Sword - stab one with the Wooden Sword and it will flash and growl, but never die. If you haven't gotten the White Sword (or don't know about Manhandla's bomb weakness) you aren't 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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, Rupies 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 Podoboos).
  • Cast from Money: Arrows in this game drain Rupies 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.
  • 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. Apparently, 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. One common suggestion is that religion has waned over the centuries and, with the land quite ravaged, the old Hylian religion was left behind in favor of a Crystal Dragon Jesus 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: If you know where to look, are somewhat good at evasion, and willing to grind Rupies 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 Rupies (five away from the maximum) and thus requires more time spent finding hidden rooms in the overworld for larger caches of Rupies if you want to buy it quickly (and without savescumming or Rupie-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 Rupies).
    • 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.
    • 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 Rupie units are orange instead of the now-standard green (since Rupies shared their palettes with the enemy characters). Orange Rupees would later resurface in The Wind Waker, but they are worth 100 Rupees in that game.
    • 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 Rupies for every shot due to the game not having a proper ammo system for the arrows.
    • While Faries 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 Trifroce 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. Starting with the second 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.
    • Link cannot move diagonally.
  • 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 Rupies, 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
  • 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...
  • Go for the Eye: Again, Gohma and Patra.
  • Good Bad Translation: The origin of Gannon-Banned, among other things.
  • 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).
  • 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 spelled as 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.
  • 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.
  • Lost Forever: In the second quest, some of the old men in the dungeons ask for 50 Rupies, 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.
  • MacGuffin: The pieces of the Triforce.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Peahat, Manhandla, and (arguably) Leever.
  • 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 Rupie. If you run out of Rupies, 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.
  • Oculothorax: You'd never guess this from the game itself, but Digdogger (who hates a certain kind of sound) is one of these. It's a lot more clear when it returns in Oracle of Seasons.
    • Patra is an entire squadron of these.
  • Piņata Enemy: The Tektites and Leevers along the southern border of the map. Easy Money Grinding to be found there.
  • 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, Rupies, Bombs, Fairies, or the time-stopping Clock. Bosses guarding a Triforce fragment always drop a Container Heart.
  • Rainbow Speak: The intro.
  • 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.
  • Spell Book: It's not necessary for Link to be able to use the Magical Rod, but it does make his shots burst into flames. Some think this makes it weaker, but it does not: the beam does damage before it bursts into flame, so it does damage from the beam and the fire, not just the fire.
  • 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 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.
  • Unwinnable:
    • 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 Rupies, 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.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Bit of an odd case. When the game was still very young, it was ambiguous whether Link was shooting beams from his sword or actually throwing it at enemies, with the game glossing over how he retrieved it. One piece of artwork from the game depicts the former, and yet another depicts the latter. Once the second game was released, most media treated the beams as an ability unique to the Magical Sword (appropriately enough), so one could interpret Link as throwing the Wooden and White swords.
  • 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 immune to 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 Rupies 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: Quite possibly the Ur-Example. One of the reasons the game was so well liked was that you could go pretty much anywhere from the start.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: One of the caves gives you information if you pay the right amount of Rupies. 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.