The Legend Of Zelda
is a series which has a tendency to inspire excitement, nostalgia, passion and incoherent babbling in its fans, as the early draft of this review can testify. When I first wrote it, it read more like a fond recollection of Zelda history, rather than an actual review. Here, I'll focus on what makes The Legend of Zelda so great and popular, and what it has in its favor to have kept it around for twenty-five years.
The name of the game is innovation. While the whole series is rather infamous for using different variations of essentially the same gameplay, story and formula, it should be noted that Zelda actually invented
many of the things we take for granted in adventure games nowadays, and that Nintendo must be doing something right if the same old formula still seems fun and exciting after all this time.
When it came into being in 1986, the first game was critically hailed, not just for being generally fun, but for being among the first games to feature top-down, non-linear exploration. Nintendo experimented a good deal with The Adventure Of Link
two years later, then took everything from the previous games and raised the bar. A Link to the Past is regarded as the ultimate example of 2D, top-down gaming; a perfection of the formula introduced in the original Zelda. Nintendo wisely saw that it would be impossible to top ALP using the same gameplay style, so they didn't even try. Instead, they made Ocarina Of Time
. While keeping many traditional elements, Ocarina completely changed the way The Legend of Zelda was played. The world transitioned from 2D to 3D, the story revealed more of the history of the land of Hyrule, and the Legend was allowed to continue, with plenty of room to grow. Ocarina's gameplay system was improved upon in Majoras Mask
and Wind Waker
, and perfected in Twilight Princess
. And change is coming again. The upcoming Skyward Sword
promises to be another transition from old to new, like the transition from ALP to OOT. Nintendo isn't afraid to take chances and make changes when things start to look rusty.
There is plenty more I could say about the atmosphere and world-building or the unique storytelling techniques of The Legend of Zelda, but I unfortunately don't have the room. Zelda is a series which can somehow stay fresh and traditional at the same time, and can deliver an epic adventure unlike anything else.