Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Greatest Video Game Ever Made

Sorry, Mario. You may be the most instantly recognizable video game character of all-time, and you've been the star in many great games. But none of them were The Legend of Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda was released by Nintendo in America in 1987, and it was every young boy's dreams realized. I was too young at the time and didn't know much about the history of video games to fully appreciate the genius that is Zelda, but looking back now, I see it for the incredibly well-designed game it is. And that's not just nostalgia talking.

For starters, as the wikipedia article puts it, its "gameplay defied categorization." Zelda contained elements of action, adventure, and puzzle-solving. As opposed to being a side-scroller, the screen follows our hero, Link, from a bird's eye view. He has various weapons, faces enemies of varying difficulty, and explores both the overworld and underworld. The land of Hyrule, where the action takes place, is truly a world fully-realized, or at least, as realized as an 8-bit system with limited memory allows.

But ultimately, what Zelda boils down to is this: a boy and his sword, a damsel in distress, magic and sorcery, and the hero's journey. Sure, all this was done to death before the game's release and it's been done to death since, but rarely has it worked better than in Zelda.


Phil Stiefel said...

super tecmo bowl I will post it here too!!!

Brian O'Rourke said...

I remember you and I had an argument late one night at the dorm about the best video game ever, which of course neither of us won.

Believe it or not, I did not start playing Super Tecmo Bowl until i got to law school. And yes, it's a great game.

But it's no Zelda.

Rita Vetere said...

Oh, how I miss my adventures with Link. Back in the day, Legend of Zelda got me through many sleepless nights. Link, of course, was not nearly as good-looking as Niko is in GTA4 but I harbor only fond memories of him.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Rita -

I've come back to the game, much like I would a favorite book, at various times in my life. It has a lot of replay value, even though it doesn't have the flash or technology of today's games. A lot of the older games are like that, and I still haven't figured out why. Probably it's nostalgia, but I think there's more to it than that, because kids of today play these "old school" games too.

Jenna and I frequently bust out SMB 3.