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Video Game / The Legend of Zelda

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"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.

It's Dangerous to Describe The Legend of Zelda Here Alone. Take This.

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 Zelda no Densetsunote  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. This version was later released for the cartridge-based Family Computer as Zelda no Densetsu 1.

Both the original adventure and the "second quest" would eventually be remade as BS Zelda no Densetsu, an enhanced version for the Satellaview Super Famicom add-on with new dungeon layouts and voice acting.


The story, as told through an Engrish-filled opening title scroll,note  is that the evil wizard Ganon had stolen the Triforce of Power, and captured Princess Zelda, holder of the Triforce of Wisdom. However, to keep the Triforce of Wisdom from falling into Ganon's hands, Zelda split it into 8 pieces, and hid them in 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, as well as some ROM hacks such as Zelda Challenge: Outlands. There is also a randomizer for the game created by Fred Coughlin (not to be confused with the Zelda Randomizer, which is built in Zelda Classic) that can mix up almost everything in the game, including the shapes of dungeons. This was one of the first randomizers to become popular, preceding other popular randomizers like the A Link to the Past Randomizer and Super Metroid randomizer.


A special version of the game entitled The Legend of Zelda: Living the Life of Luxury! was released on the Nintendo Switch as part of its Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online suite of emulated classics. This edition of the game attempts to enhance accessibility by giving access to nearly every single item at the start of the game in addition to a massive cache of Rupees.

According to Hyrule Historia, this is the second-to-last game in the "Hero Defeated" timeline; its immediate sequel is the last.

The game was released to Japanese audiences in early 1986, and came to North America in the summer of 1987.


  • Ability Required to Proceed:
    • Notably averted in this title. All of Hyrule, save for two screensnote , 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 brunet in canon, which is very uncommon in the series. However, some of the artwork still depicts him as blond or strawberry blond. Some of the merchandise for the sequel even makes it look bleached.
  • Ambiguously Christian: Link, by Word of God. He has a cross 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.
    • The second game is typically considered significantly more difficult than this one, and it's probably because of this trope. Both games involve some difficult fights (with Zelda II being slightly harder with its superior AI), both have obtuse hints that practically need a walkthrough to understand, but the first game has a lot more room for error from the player before they're defeated due to extra life, plentiful healing, and a little more flexibility in handling challenges.
  • 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, and it gets progressively faster and harder to dodge as it loses its heads. 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 Moblin 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. 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 
    • The localization removes the hint about the Silver's Arrow location. In the Japanese version, the old man in Level 8 says "look for the arrows in Death mountain," which was changed to "spectacle rock is an entrance to death." In fact, the hint in the localized version was originally given in level 7, which was changed to "there's a secret in the tip of the nose." Without the hint, they're not just harder to find - with no mention of them anywhere else, a lot of 80s kids probably spent a ton of time attacking Ganon and not knowing why nothing can keep him down, never having gotten that earlier hint that there are some arrows around here that are supposed to be important.
  • 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 Podoboos).
  • Cap: Link can only hold 255 rupees and 8 bombs. He can later upgrade his bomb capacity to 12 and then 16 if he finds certain old men in dungeons and pays the 100 rupee fee to upgrade.
  • 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. Justified: 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 a Christian-esque religion.
  • Damage Discrimination: Played straight with bombs, averted with the Candles and the "Book of Magic"-enhanced Magical Rod.
  • Death Mountain: The Trope Namer.
  • Degraded Boss: Digdogger, Dodongo and Manhandla appear as normal albeit one-off enemies in later dungeons. Subverted by Gleeok, whose 3-head variant is the Level-6 mini-boss, and whose 4-head variant is the Level-8 boss.
  • 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:
    • Both quests:
      • 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. On the second quest, it is immediately found in the room on the right after killing 5 red Goriyas.
      • Bombs. Can be received at anytime in the game. Giant radius of damage. Does the same amount of damage as the Magical Sword. Several walls can break for shortcuts. The only thing stopping this from being a game breaker is the limited amount of supplies.
    • The First Quest can be done in the order it is placed (minus Level 6 which is often played last before 9), so most of the following would be more Awesome, but Impractical due to the difficulty required to get some of those items:
      • The Bow and Arrow in Level 1. If you are stacked with rupees, this will make your life much easier in the case you are not in full health at any point in the game to shoot sword beams.
      • 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).
      • The Magical Rod in Level 6 without any other items than bombs. Good luck with a room where you are required to defeat Wizzrobes and Like-Likes, but this will make the 1st half easy in case you don't want to to exhaust rupees for the Bow and Arrow.
      • The Magical Key in Level 8. Get the bow in Level 1. Good luck dealing with Blue Darknuts and Blue Gohmas, but you don't have to cash in rupees for keys.
    • The Second Quest's difficulty inconsistencies make this a must to do in this particular order:
      • The Ladder in Level 6 can be collected very early by just having the Recorder. You do not have to defeat any of the wizzrobes in 3 rooms to achieve this, but you just have to be very careful approaching. Most players would go for this after completing the first 3 dungeons, have 9 hearts health, the Blue Ring, Magical Shield, and Water of Life stocked. The ladder in this quest will be used much more than the first quest for sure, and sure will make this a blessing to tackle...
      • Level 8's big 3: The Magical Key, Wand, and Bomb Upgrade. Doing the above for he ladder is required. This dungeon doesn't feature any enemies harder than Blue Goriyas, this quest's revamped Stalfos, and Digdogger. Those 3 things would make the second half of the game a LOT easier than just doing them in the order designed.
  • 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 Molblins to Moblins and Zolas to Zoras.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • There are a lot of crosses throughout Hyrule, and one of the important upgrades Link can find is explicitly a Bible. This is because Christianity was supposed to be Hyrule's religion; the mythology of the Golden Goddesses came later as a result of Nintendo of America's Jesus Taboo.
    • There are no NPC-filled towns, and NPCs are rather rare. Ironically 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 twonote .
    • Also of note is that Link is going after the Triforce of 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.
    • This game 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 depletes 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 found inside of a dungeon either just appears out of thin air when all enemies are defeated, or it's 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.
    • The second quest can have Link sacrifice a Heart Container to the old men in dungeons if the player lacks the rupees to proceed. This idea would never be used again, but a revised version of the mechanic would appear in Breath of the Wild where an NPC can lower Link's maximum health in exchange for higher stamina and vice versa.
    • Finding Heart Containers outside of dungeons. While a few games later in the series reused the idea, most of the games in general do not.
    • Dungeons in this game acted more like labyrinths which you can easily get lost in and there weren't really any puzzles beyond "push a specific block to reveal the way". The sequel kept the design, but all future games afterwards would have their dungeons be more focused on puzzle solving and rooms being unique instead of copy pasted everywhere.
    • Upgrading your bomb capacity could only be done by old men hidden in dungeons. This was changed in future games where capacity upgrades would be done in the overworld or a town.
    • A dungeon's major treasure would always be in an underground room. Later games would have them inside chests and unique rooms.
    • In the second quest, dungeons could have invisible walls and some of them were only accessible in one direction. The idea was dropped, though the concept of invisible walls hiding things were brought back in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
    • Food being used as bait and a way to bypass the hungry Goryia in certain dungeons. It comes back after a fashion in Breath of the Wild where Mighty Bananas can be used to distract Yiga Clan guards during the game's Stealth-Based Mission.
    • You're required to show an old woman a letter from an old man before she'll allow you to buy potions. Later games would not do this, but a few would have you procure a similar item to be allowed to buy the stronger potions. Likewise, the red potion here comes in two doses. Later games don't give double doses for potions, although a few games would use it for other potion-like items like milk and soup.
    • Link is collecting the Triforce of Wisdom since the concept of the Triforce of Courage wasn't conceptualized at the time. Zelda would always have the Triforce of Wisdom in most of the later installments.
    • Along with the sequel, Hyrule Castle simply didn't exist and the concept of a king wasn't used until the sequel either, though he was a Posthumous Character in that game.
    • A few dungeons in this game contain two special items, an anomaly that would never be seen again in the series. Level 1 has both the Boomerang and the Bow, Level 8 the Magic Book and the Magic Key, and Level 9 the Silver Arrows and the Red Ring. Later games stick strictly to a one-item-per-dungeon rule, with rare exceptions.
    • The HUD would display Link's health on the right side of the screen, items in the middle, and the map on the left. By the 3D installments, the life meter was moved to the left, items to the right, and the map and rupee count towards the bottom corners of the screen.
  • 11th-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 tagline The Hyrule Fantasy was dropped from international releases.
  • Forest of Perpetual Autumn: The Lost Woods have orange-leaved autumn trees instead of the green-leaved spring trees elsewhere.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Old men, old women, bribing Moblins, 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:
  • 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.
  • 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 Goriya 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.
    • To sum up data against most bosses, the Blue Darknuts and Blue Wizzrobes have more HP (8 and 10), have more immunity to other attacks (sword and bombs only), and can deal 2 hearts worth of damage. To further add, they come in packs, makign things worse. Oh, and the Red Wizzrobe's projectile shot does the most damage in the game, only equal to Ganon's physical touch.
  • Hearts Are Health: The very first game to incorporate the trope and has been using it since; small hearts recover health and the bigger Heart Container extends Link's health meter.
  • 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.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • The Magical Rod's hitbox is extremely broken: It can hit enemies further away than its sprite intended.
    • How the game handles how Lynel beams (and in the second quest, Stalfos) and Wizzrobes' magic projectiles work is quite inconsistent: Most times, it will graze Link but not count as a hit. If he is positioned at a certain position, it will hit him despite him not being directly at said projectile.
  • Inconsistent Dub: The English manual translation often doesn't match the in-game version, such as Ruby instead of Rupy (later Rupee), Whistle instead of Recorder, Magic Wand instead of Magical Rod, Magic Book instead of Book of Magic, 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 renamed the "Book of Magic" in English. Also, in a case of Earth Drift, all games past the first two no longer feature crosses on the shields.
  • 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 - one of the biggest was the shield, which sold for 160 in the easiest shop to find, but is only 90 in a hidden one that you'll need the candle to get to. The merchant who sells the Blue Ring also sells a discounted Enemy Bait.
  • 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. On the other side, if a beneficial item has a red and a blue version, the red is better - red potions have two doses, red ring is twice as strong as the blue ring, red candle has infinite use whereas blue candle has one use per screen.
  • 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 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.
    • 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 Mauling: The bow, rather than having a stock of arrows like in the later games, costs you a Rupee for each shot (suggesting the arrows are literally made of money). 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.
  • 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.
  • One Bullet at a Time: All of Link's projectiles have a one "bullet" cap (sword beams, magic rod shots, and flames from candles) The Blue Candle is pretty terrible with the cap since you can only use it once per area/room. The Red Candle has infinite uses, but it's still capped at two flames at a time. Link is also limited to planting only one bomb at a time.
  • 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.
  • Piñata 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 screen 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, especially if you didn't have a guide telling you where to burn.
  • 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. This only applies to the sprite as most official art depicts her with medium length hair.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Shock and Awe: In the Broadcast Satellaview remake, beams from the Magical Sword are a little different from those of the Wooden and White Swords, which appear to explode in four directions after hitting something. Instead, beams from the Magical Sword explode into lightning.
  • Skeleton Key: The Magical Key basically gives you infinite keys, allowing you to unlock every single door in every dungeon.
  • 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.
  • Take a Third Option: In the second quest, some dungeons will contain old men that will seal you in the room and force you either pay 50 rupees or sacrifice a Heart Container in order to proceed. Players can also choose to attack the old man so the torches launch fireballs at Link until he dies and then restart at the dungeon entrance with both rupees and hearts intact.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Stalfos and Ropes in the second quest go from being a free kill to being quite a threat. Stalfos now know how to throw swords at Link, dealing two hearts of damage if he comes into the path of them. Ropes now take several hits to kill instead of one.
  • 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.
  • Unbuilt Trope: While the first installment in the Zelda franchise, and the Trope Codifier of the Action-Adventure genre, its gameplay and story plays out in such a way that's highly unusual to newer players, and won't be seen until The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • The setting of Hyrule is desolate, barren of any towns and overrun by monsters. Aside from Link, Zelda, and Impa (in the manual), the only other human inhabitants are an old man and woman that occupy various dwellings across the region, of which are well-hidden to protect themselves from the monsters. Because this is a truly open world, Link isn't obligated by the plot to follow the dungeons in any order (except the final dungeon, which he needs all the Triforce pieces before facing Ganon), and could access them once he obtains the proper equipment to traverse them.
    • The old man himself is one of Link's most useful allies on his quest, but he's far from perfect. If Link destroys the wrong doors to his dwellings, the old man will chastise him and make him pay for door repairs, when other times he would give him an item or a piece of advice. The advice itself is oftentimes vague and unhelpful (in the English version), which could be amounted to technical reasons, but reinforces the human element - and potential senility - of the old man. On the second quest, he may even force the player into a Sadistic Choice of either giving up fifty rubies or a heart container, shifting into the role of a Stealth Mentor.
    • While not as notorious, the old woman has her moments, particularly when the player gives her the highest payment option for her advice booth: she will simply give a snide remark on how rich the player is, subverting their expectations of value. Assuming each old man and woman are different people entirely, this reinforces the idea that each NPC is an individual, and thus will cooperate (or not) with Link to varying degrees.
    • The monsters of this world are extremely dangerous and could easily kill Link, even when he comes prepared. Having the right equipment to handle certain enemies is only the first step to beating them, and even advanced fighting tactics aren't a guarantee. While much of this has to do with primitive coding on part of the enemies (leading to random, erratic movement patterns), there's also a logical element to this: a lone swordsman isn't going to easily handle a room full of experienced wizards or armored knights.
  • 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.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: After beating the first quest, players gain access to the (even harder) second quest.
  • Unwinnable: Happens commonly in trapped doors. Excluding Self-Imposed Challenge atempts such as no-sword runs (which becomes Unwinnable by Insanity), All scenarios below are like this:
    • In the second quest, 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. If you have no way of killing enemies required to open trap doors to backtrack and have exhausted your subweapons, you are literally stuck.
    • Second Quest Level 4 has 3 Dodongos and are required to kill before proceeding to get the raft. Unlike all the other Dodongo fights in the game, the trap doors are shut. Hope you have at least 1 bomb to gain more bombs after smoke-attack Dodongo and sword strike OR 6 bombs to feed all 3.
    • Second Quest Level 6 has Gohma as a boss, which requires bow and arrow and rupees. Unlike all the other Gohma fights in the game, the trap doors are shut. Hope you got the bow from Level 5, bought the Arrow in the store, and have 3 rupees minimum.
    • In both quests, reaching Ganon without any sword (or Red Bubble cursed) nor the silver arrows. Never try to rush the game without collecting everything next time.
  • 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 Red Candle can be this. Unlike the Blue Candle, you can use it as many times as you like in an area without having to leave and come back. However, you get it so late in the game that you've likely already found everything hidden by that point anyway. Just one dungeon after you find it, you'll find the Magic Book which allows you to get unlimited fires by using your wand anyway.
  • 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).
  • Violation of Common Sense: The "Pay me and I'll talk" NPCs. Obviously, the lowest option doesn't net you any info since you're a cheap-ass for picking it, so logically, picking the highest option is the best since it means you're willing to pay anything for information, right? Nope! The NPC says "Boy, you're rich!" and that's it. To get an actual hint, you have to pick the middle option.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Three examples.
    • Aquamentus in Level 1-1. If you have the White Sword and Magical Shield, or if you brought an Arrow to go with the dungeon's Bow, he's easy as pie. 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.
  • Where It All Began: In the Satellaview remake, the final fight with Ganon takes place in the first cave where you got the wooden sword.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: One of the reasons the game was so well liked was that you can go anywhere in the game right from the start (sans two certain areas that require special items) - there are nearly no Railroading elements in the game at all, though the lack of these elements was itself potentially problematic; if you didn't have a guide, it could be difficult to know where to go.



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