October 15, 2012

The Legends of Gannon

I've decided to set forth on an epic adventure, following in the footsteps of the Hero of Time himself, the Hylian known simply as Link.  One of Nintendo's top gaming icons and likely rivaling Mario in popularity, Link has slashed his way through every console the Big N has put out; each of his outings considered among the best of each generation.  Like most game series that get it right the first time, the tales of Link have many recurring elements, but are varied enough to be unique entries in the mythos.  Chief among them are the hero himself rushing to save his homeland of Hyrule by liberating the mystical Triforce and Princess Zelda from the evil clutches of Ganondorf.  Along the way he has to traverse a vast overworld and explore dreadful dungeons in order to gain enough equipment to allow him to progress in his journey and defeat the bosses.  I've been fortunate to join the Zelda series since its original incarnation on the Nintendo Entertainment System, but I've regretfully fallen behind on several of his more recent outings.  There's even a handful I've played but never completed.  Now I'm dedicating myself to take on and conquer every single Zelda adventure in the order of their release and recording my progress here.  I won't give full reviews of each title, there's PLENTY of those on the Internet, but an overview and personal opinions of them.  What follows is a list of each game that will eventually be filled with commentary as I conquer them.  Until then, each title contains info on my experience with them, their original American release date and the console they debuted on here.

The Legend of Zelda- 1987, Nintendo Entertainment System.  For this play through, I used Nintendo GameCube's The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition, given away free to Club Nintendo members if they purchased that console before they rereleased it with this disc in the package.  Ganondorf, appearing here in his Ganon transformation, stole the Triforce of Power and kidnapped Princess Zelda.  But before The Prince of Darkness could get his hands on the Triforce of Wisdom, Zelda divided it into eight pieces and stowed them away in monster-infested labyrinths across the land.   It's up to a plucky young adventurer named Link to trek into the underworld, collect and reunite the Triforce of Wisdom, then take on Ganon to save Hyrule.  This game laid out the groundwork for the entire series, featuring characters, plot points, enemies, gameplay, and equipment that we see to this very day.  When I played this as a kid on the NES the first couple of times, it truly was an epic mission that involved hours of exploration.  I must have tried to burn every bush, detonate every wall in the over and underworlds, and blow the mystical whistle (aka flute aka recorder) on each screen to see if it had any effect.  It didn't even feel cumbersome; it was great fun to try to discover all the secrets of this world.  If I played it for the first time as an adult today, I wonder if I would have had the patience to go through such measures without consulting online FAQs.  I'm also curious how younger gamers of today would enjoy what they may consider a primitive game where the solutions aren't so straightforward.  Anyway, Nintendo Power magazine eventually released a fantastic game guide called the NES Game Atlas, which contained in depth guides to many key Nintendo titles, including the first two Zelda games.  This laid out all their secrets at long last, including the locations of all overworld Heart Containers and secret money rooms.  While I managed to discover most on my own, enough to complete the adventure several times, it was nice to finally see what I've been missing.  During my most recent play through for this blog, I was fortunate enough to remember just about everything I learned through my initial soirees through the game.  I also decided to try to collect every overworld item as soon as it was accessible to me, making dungeon spelunking much easier with earlier attainment of the more powerful swords and an increased life line.  The game is still as great and replayable as ever, even after playing hundreds of others in the interim.  It's a true classic that stood the test of time with great 8-bit graphics, music, and gameplay.  Admittedly, I did forget how to get through the Lost Hills and the Lost Woods until visiting the appropriate wise men and women.  And my, how I've forgotten how deviously tough the armored Darknuts and teleporting Wizrobes are, especially their blue incarnations.  While the 'Nuts are pretty easy to handle when they're few in number, it's when they gang up in rooms with fireball spitting statues and obstructive blocks that they can be a pain.  But the blue Wizrobes suck no matter the situation until I noticed that, if you follow close behind them, they will not turn around to attack you.  So both the Darknuts and blue Wizrobes are best disposed of by sneaking up on them.  Then there's Level 9, just as difficult as I remember, mostly for all the secret passageways that send you all over the place.  I could not for the life of me find the elusive Red Ring for the longest time.  Now that I have completed the inaugural title in the Legend of Zelda series, I decided to hold off on the infamous Second Quest until completing all its sequels first.  This Quest, of course, I have never triumphed in despite making it to its final dungeon as a kid.  I hope to rectify this at the end of my Zelda journey.

The Adventure of Link- 1988, Nintendo Entertainment System.  Played but unbeaten.

A Link To The Past- 1992, Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  Played and beaten.

Link's Awakening- 1993, Gameboy.  Played and beaten.

Ocarina of Time- 1998, Nintendo 64.  Played and beaten.

Majora's Mask- 2000, Nintendo 64.  Played but unbeaten.

Oracle of Ages- 2001, Gameboy Color.  Played and beaten.

Oracle of Seasons- 2001, Gameboy Color.  Played and beaten.

Four Swords- 2002, Gameboy Advance.  Never played.

The Wind Waker- 2003, Nintendo GameCube.  Played but unbeaten.

Four Swords Adventures- 2004, Nintendo GameCube.  Never played.

The Minish Cap- 2005, Gameboy Advance.  Played and beaten.

Twilight Princess- 2006, Nintendo Wii.  Never played.

Phantom Hourglass- 2007, Nintendo DS.  Never played.

Spirit Tracks- 2009, Nintendo DS.  Never played.

Skyward Sword- 2011, Nintendo Wii.  Never played.

The Legend of Zelda, Second Quest- Played but unbeaten.

Ocarina of Time, Master Quest- Never played.

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