In case you didn't pick up on the hints from the title of this blog posting or the box art over to the left here, I am going to play The Legend of Zelda franchise for seven straight days. Oh, and I know I don't have a cool banner showcasing "My Week of Zelda" up yet - I will try to have it up for tomorrow's post. Just try to use your imagination for the time being.
So ... The Legend of Zelda. To be honest, I had a completely different franchise already picked out and ready to go for this week, until the Twitter Gods spoke to me loud and clear, and pointed me into the direction of one of the most popular, well-received and most recognizable game franchises of all time. Yet despite how unimaginably popular the Zelda franchise is, I discovered that many people who are readers of this very blog, followers on twitter and even some Podcasters either have played a little bit of the series and didn't like it, haven't played the series since the originals and have no interest in going back to it, and yes, even a handful of gamers out there that have never played a single Zelda game, EVER.
After finding out all this today, completely randomly mind you, I knew that I just HAD to make this week my week of Zelda. Not for my sake to rediscover the franchise or drum up some awesome memories, but instead for a community service, to explore what the series means to the community, good or bad. I wan't to find out why people may have bailed on this series or never bothered to even explore it, what holds them back from enjoying it and why it hasn't grabbed the attention of certain gamers. Hopefully, however, I'll be able to drudge up the goodness and joy in the series as well, and discover how much this series has meant to people over the years as well.
Basically I want to find my way out of the dark room before I bother to look for the light switch.
Tonight, I started with where the legend all began, the original The Legend of Zelda game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Personally, for me, this wasn't my first Zelda game that I remember playing, but it was for many people, obviously because it was the first. Of course, back in 1986, no one could have ever predicted that this one little game would spawn the franchise it has become.
It was ground breaking for several reasons, some of which weren't immediately known at the time. It was the first game to allow for game saves on the cartridge, as opposed to using the more traditional of the times password system for "saves." Also, it was the start of open-world gaming, which most gamers don't ever give it the credit for being.
You play the game in a top-down style adventure game, traversing around the world, exploring and defeating dungeons, solving puzzles and basically living out an epic quest to find the sacred treasure, defeat the ultimate boss, save the princess and restore peace to the kingdom. The fundamental aspects of the game are well in place and easy to see, but the ability to fully immerse yourself as a gamer into this brand new universe is one that the Zelda franchise has done better than almost any game franchise out there.
Playing it again tonight, however, some things were quite clear. If you have never played a Zelda game before, this would not be the game to start out with, because it doesn't have that it factor that will make people finally get why this franchise is so well liked. Yes, it's serviceable for what it is and plays an important part of the timeline for the series (more on that throughout the week), but it's still an old game. Today, it appeals to those who played it back in the day and fell in love with the adventure. It's a nostalgic piece of gaming history, but not one that would be easy to sit down and just play through like a platformer (Mario, Mega Man, etc.) would be to a newcomer.
Thankfully, The Legend of Zelda holds its place on the Mount Rushmore of games not because of how well it has aged, but for the bar that it set for every other action/adventure game that has come after it, as well as being the game that started it all. Oh, and it had a gold colored NES cartridge, and even to this day, just holding it makes you feel like you are holding something special.
I can't wait to continue this series. This is going to be a strong week for all the Nintendo fans out there, and hopefully enlightening for all those who never jumped on the Nintendo bandwagon.