In modern times, just as with our ancestors, it is critical to evolve in order to stay alive. Car manufacturers must continuously evolve available features, horsepower, style, etc to meet customer demands or risk losing business. Electronics companies must evolve for the same reason; Apple Computer re-invented itself with the iPod as a new medium other than a personal computer. Video games have evolved over time in terms of better graphics, memory, options and game play. One video game that helped start the evolution in the early days was The Legend of Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda ranks in most video gamers’ top 5 list at least, and for many #1 of all time. This game carried forward the new tradition of saving the girl (“the princess”) but also helped to introduce the concept of acquiring things for use during the game. Previously, games were one-dimensional in that you had a character and it performed one function (such as Pac-Man eating, Space Invader shooting, etc).
Zelda brought with it a new feature that grabbed the attention of gamers and provided another avenue to spend many hours playing the game for a different goal: acquiring all the items you can in the game before defeating it. Zelda allowed you to gather different weapons to help battle enemies and other items that were critical to successfully completing the game, such as the silver arrow that is needed to defeat Ganon and rescue the princess!
Zelda also introduced the concept of hidden items in a game making it more challenging to complete; predecessors of the game had no such concept as everything was linear and in the open. In Zelda, you needed to use a candle to burn bushes and find stairwells; bombs to open hidden walls in the castles and keys to open doors. The higher the difficulty in finding the hidden items almost always led to a higher reward (i.e. 100 rupees instead of 10).
As Zelda evolved over time, so too did Link (the main character) and the quests that Link could pursue in the game. The original game only had one primary quest: to defeat Ganon and save Zelda the princess, along with the precious Triforce. Later versions of the game such as Zelda: Ocarina of Time, had many side quests that entertained the gamer and in some cases served to help the main quest. For example, in Ocarina, there are side games such as mini-bowling that will net you a prize such as a piece of heart, which increases your overall life meter.
The graphics have improved dramatically between The Legend of Zelda for NES and Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Nintendo Wii, along with the storylines and options for game play. In Ocarina of Time you play as Link when he is a child and a teenager, and you can swap between the two during the game. Majora’s Mask introduced the concept of finishing tasks in the game within a defined time period or having to restart completely. Finally, Twilight Princess turned Link into a wolf traveling across two dimensions: the light world and the dark world.
I personally have spent probably several months of my life added up over time playing the various Zelda games and find it to be my favourite series of all time. If you agree, why not purchase a Legend of Zelda t-shirt? You can show the world that you have spent countless hours attempting to keep the Triforce out of evil hands and/or rescue the princess. Additionally, you can kick off the “Mario vs. Zelda” conversation and find out how many people like one versus the other!