The Legend of Zelda Through the Eyes of a Modern Gamer

Posted by Sandstorm in Game Reviews, Offbeat, Uncategorized on September 12th, 2012.
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Becoming a Masochist one death at a time.


Modern games are forgiving. Too Forgiving. That’s the primary conclusion I’ve drawn after clearing the original "Legend of Zelda" (on 3DS) for the first time. From the beginning of the game onwards it’s just you, your wit and the game.


So… now what?

I got my hands on this game when I bought the 3DS early enough to be part of the Ambassador program. Immediately after I downloaded it I gave it a try because it was such a legendary (see what I did there?) game. When I started my game, I didn’t see the prologue after the title screen. Good chance a lot of people didn’t see it, because when you press start as prompted, you go to the registration page. As a matter of fact, I only discovered there was a prologue when googling in preparation of this piece. So, as there isn’t a manual outlining the story as with the original NES version, I started out totally in the dark. On my first play, I got the sword (ow yeah) and thought: “So now what?”

After some contemplation about this question, I just decided to run in a random direction.

I died… A lot. Frustrated, I put down the game and spent my time playing Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario Land 3D and Mario Kart 7.

Luckily, that was until I came to Toronto.

Loving the games from the Zelda franchise I had played so far, I determined it was time to start at the first game and just fill out the gaps in the list. Also, the social isolation I found myself in must have played a role in this decision. Let’s just say, I had nothing better to do.

I started up the game, again not discovering the prologue, and started exploring. Every time I died, I got a little bit further into the world, and while the frustration began to increase each and each time, also the sense of really exploring a world set in. Finally finding the first dungeon, after dying a LOT, made me so happy, that instantly I was hooked. I didn’t need to force myself to play again. I began enjoying the old fashioned punishment presented to me in Zelda.


A masochist is born

While modern games (Zelda games included) tend to take you by the hand, exploring the controls in a tutorial, giving you very explicit markers where to go, this game just lets you run loose.  Especially in the way I played it. As a list of all the treasures (including items you find in dungeons) is presented in the prologue, I wholeheartedly recommend you not to watch it! Knowing which items you have in the game will make it far easier to determine what to do and will decrease the joy that comes with finding an item that you know will help you survive longer or progress through the game. And face it, that joy is one you don’t get anymore in games. Even in modern Zelda games, exploration isn’t of utmost importance for the main game anymore. If you want to explore you can, but for the most part it’s just for mini-games and secrets. All the main quest markers are highlighted throughout the game. While admittedly this streamlines the experience, I began thinking about the possibility that the modern entries are streamlined too much.

You might be wondering if this game causes you to be completely lost all the time. No! That isn’t the case. The game does give you certain pointers, but in the form of riddles given to you by the old man. In this way you are given an idea where to look, but you are discovering everything yourself, giving you a much bigger sense of fulfillment.

The same feeling is experienced in the combat of the game. It’s punishing.  Enemies deal loads of damage and, as said before, you will die a lot. However, if you pass that one room with the difficult set of enemies, or if you find that new heart container that makes you that little bit harder to kill, your ego gets a boost and you’ll find yourself wanting to throw yourselves into a new dungeon! Ah… dying can be fun.


No “changes” but “tweaks”

Gameplay wise, I was amazed at how little has been changed to the core formula of the game. Without spoiling too much, a lot of the items you find throughout the game will be very familiar. The world set-up, the core characters, the enemies and bosses… Through the years they haven’t been radically changed, they have been tweaked to be somewhat more engaging, to offer just enough new gameplay to keep it fresh. And why shouldn’t they? I was amazed at how fun this game is to play, even after all these years. 

So what are the tweaks they made? The overworld initially is far more challenging than the dungeons, something that cannot be said for the current Zelda games. Only halfway through the game you begin to feel safe up top, and the balance shifts to more difficult dungeons. In the dungeons, the biggest challenge lies in the rooms filled with enemies, dealing massive damage, while you have to find all secret passages for the items and to progress. The bosses are sissies in comparison. That was one of my few gripes with the game, a gripe that was tackled in later entries in the franchise The bosses in this game are fun variations in enemy type, but they aren’t necessarily impressive as bosses. A minor gripe, because as said, the game still plays great.

Another interesting thing was the familiarity of Hyrule. A lot of locations like Lake Hylia were already present in this game and became the staples they are today. While this isn’t exactly crazy as more or less each game is set in some form of Hyrule, it surprised me that nearly all big locations of the series were present in the first iteration Especially the sequence in the Lost Woods was very familiar to the one in Ocarina of Time and made me finally appreciate what a revolution this game must have been in the time that it launched. If the core mechanics and locations of the game still count as some of the best and most memorable on the market this day, it’s understandable that it blew people’s minds in the 8-bit era. Heck, I was even seriously impressed with this game even now.


Don’t let Ganon play with power!

I wholeheartedly recommend everyone to play this game.  If you were an early adopter of the 3DS, got into the ambassador program just like me and didn’t play this game yet, just drop Kingdom Hearts, become the hero of time, and travel back to this gem. Especially fans of the Zelda franchise will enjoy the familiarities, but also other gamers will find a sense of fulfillment not found in many games today. Don’t let the unforgiving sides of this game deter you but embrace them! Explore Hyrule like you have never before (a strange thing to say about an old game…) and save the Princess! You know you want to…


Tips to enjoy the game!

1. Don’t watch the prologue! Press start!

2. Battle through the pain! Bliss will come to those who do!

3. Explore every nook and cranny!

4. Destroy shit! Like a real Hooligan!

5. Don’t hang out with people who’ve played the game before!


One Response to “The Legend of Zelda Through the Eyes of a Modern Gamer”

  1. […] Blog Home » The Legend of Zelda Through the Eyes of a Modern GamerOctober 27, 2012 by sandstorm-BBQThis post was published earlier on Sept. 12th 2012 on Internet Spotter […]

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