On February 21, 2016, Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda franchise marked its 30th anniversary. The original Zelda no Densetsu was released in Japan as the inaugural title for the Famicom Disk System peripheral back on February 21, 1986. Since that time, the series has taken players young and old on fantastical journeys through Hyrule and beyond, ranging from consoles like the NES, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, and more, all the way up to the upcoming Zelda title for the Wii U.
Ultimately, there’s no real article I could write here that would do proper justice to this series’s long tradition or to fully show just how much I love the series (yep, even the awful CD-i games), but I did want to at least attempt to share some of my thoughts on it as a whole.
I was pretty young (in preschool, actually) when my parents brought home the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, and I recall (as best I can) wandering around aimlessly, taking in the strange and wonderful locations, getting beaten badly by all kinds of goons, and just the overall sense of wonderment the whole experience provided. As a little kid, that first time I discovered Level 2 (the second dungeon) was a big accomplishment. It really felt like a big deal for me back then!
Since that time long ago, I’ve played and collected pretty much all Zelda titles since then. I even have a Philips CD-i that I bought (along with the graphics card add-on) many years back for the express purpose of playing the licensed titles put out by Philips back in 1993 and 1994. Although I admit that I often find some of the games falling back onto the same tropes and same formulas, Nintendo has managed to pleasantly surprise me over the years with titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which while building off of games of the past (in that case, Zelda: A Link to the Past), they offered their own unique mechanics that brought a smile to my face throughout the entire journey.
The fan community for the series is pretty massive, and the fans have developed many wonderful works of art and fangames. I myself am even working on a fangame very slowly these days and hope to have the first major playable chapter of it out sometime in the coming months!
If you’ve never played a Zelda game (which would certainly amaze me! Seriously – go play one!), you really owe it to yourself to give these games a try.
Here’s to another 30 years (and beyond) of awesome Zelda adventures for us all!