When you’ve been around as long as Nintendo has, there’s a good chance you’ll be dripping with nostalgic value for gamers older than they’d care to admit. The company live and die by their franchises first and foremost which are as plentiful as they are everlasting with a second reaching its 25th anniversary. Last year, the celebrations began for Mario’s silver jubilee but dates were vague and the festivities have continued on into this year. For Zelda however, things are a little more specific. In fact, today, February 21st is exactly twenty-five years since gamers first met Link and joined him on the eternal quest to save the princess.
In 1986 I was five and hadn’t properly started gaming but not long after, my parents bought me a NES. I didn’t have a great number of games but was aware of The Legend of Zelda and the epic adventure within. Famously, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto based the rough idea on his days as a young boy playing outdoors. He didn’t have a sword or shield but these two items are the iconic weaponry of Link as is his green attire, pointy hat and lack of speech. The games usually begin with Link and end against Ganon, the main antagonist for the franchise. His piggish appearance has changed over the years but is no less dangerous. Princess Zelda, the damsel in distress, is ironically more famous than Link since her name is in every game and a lot of my friends as a youngster thought he was actually called Zelda. What can I say? Kids can be stupid.
Video games today would look very different without the influences of The Legend of Zelda franchise. From the beginning, its popularity helped pave the way for nonlinear experiences which in itself is an evolutionary step from the text-adventure. Any game that uses some form of a lock-on targeting system should tip their hats in appreciation for Zelda just as those who like to take their music and score seriously. Considered one of if not the greatest game to date, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is quite possibly the first open-world adventure, a genre that has been often mimicked to a varying degree of success and will soon be recreated for a brand new audience when its released for the 3DS.
But even with its timeless appeal, Zelda games do have their critics who chastise the series for sticking to a similar formula for each of the major releases. Regardless of this potential franchise killer, the franchise has sold over 59 million units and the excitement for the next game, Skyward Sword, is optimistically strong. So happy birthday Link, Kudos Zelda for giving him reason and shame on you Ganon, your constant interfering and kidnapping is becoming tiresome!