[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Legend of Zelda at 25

February 20th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

You are the Hero Link - The Legend of Zelda Instruction Manual - Tips and Tactics - 1987Click above for double page scan.

The Legend of Zelda turns 25 today, having been released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan way back on February 21st, 1986.

Here’s a page (two if you click above) from the lengthy “Tips & Tactics” instruction manual that shipped with every copy of Nintendo’s famous adventure game (at least in the early days). This booklet contained maps and hints to help players navigate through a wholly new gaming experience in the video game console realm at the time.

It is hard to relate today — to those who did not experience it first hand — the feeling when we first encountered The Legend of Zelda upon its release in 1987 (over here in the ‘States). It was epic. Magical. Awe-inspiring. Zelda continued a trend of groundbreaking NES gameplay that started for many with Super Mario Bros. a year or two before.

Those first gaming experiences on the NES — rounded out by titles like Metroid and Kid Icarus — are what won Nintendo’s first console a place in the hearts of an entire generation of kids around the world.

For more on the anniversary, check out my The Legend of Zelda Oddities slideshow over at Technologizer.

[ From The Legend of Zelda Instruction Booklet, 1987, p.6-7 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Tell us about the first time you played The Legend of Zelda. What was the experience like? How old were you at the time?

11 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Legend of Zelda at 25”

  1. ragnatic Says:

    My first Zelda experience was watching a friend of mine play and beat A Link to the Past on his SNES. Later I was playing Link’s Awakening on my GB and oh boy that game was great. I loved the music and wacky plot it had. Then i bought all the games prior to Wind Waker because I didn’t have a Gamecube (and a Wii for the next game).

    Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask are my favorite games.

  2. Multimedia Mike Says:

    1989, the original Zelda game for the NES. I rented it soon after I purchased my NES that same year. I bought it soon after since I figured it was the kind of game that would have long playability. I was right, especially with the Second Quest (which took me forever to beat).

    Craziest Zelda story: I was so good at the First Quest that a classmate once called me up on the phone, ready to tackle the 9th dungeon and win the game. I was able to guide him, through the phone, completely from memory, which rooms to tackle in which order to collect all the items and find Ganon, briefing him on enemies and strategies every step of the way.

    I can’t do that anymore. 🙂

  3. technotreegrass Says:

    It was sometime in the late 80’s. I was looking through my older cousin’s collection of games and I found the gold cartridge of Legend of Zelda. Just by looking at it, I knew it was different. My cousin said I was too young to play but he let me watch and I was blown away by how epic and mature it seemed compared to Super Mario Bros.

  4. JackSoar Says:

    When I was in elementary school, I slept, ate, and breathed Zelda. From the age of about 10 until 14, it was absolutely my favorite video game series. As with other series, my introduction to the characters, world, etc. came before I owned any of the games. I ate Zelda cereal and fruit snacks, watched the Zelda cartoon, envied my sister’s Zelda watch, (the same one featured in your slideshow) and when I finally got a proper introduction to the series with “Link’s Awakening” on the Game Boy, I was hooked. I played that game until my eyes bled from staring at that pea soup-colored screen, and it’s still one of the few games of which I own the original cartridge on which I played it.

    Soon after LA, I played “A Link to the Past,” (a game I’ve bought and sold a number of times since in various forms) and then worked back to the NES titles. I adored the original Zelda, and was fortunate enough to get a used copy for a few bucks which still had the manual. While I had been exposed to more advanced entries in the series, it still spent a lot of time in my secondhand NES. I then got Zelda II, but the original cartridge was defective and didn’t run past the title screen, so it was back to FuncoLand for a replacement (and an annoyed clerk, as I recall). I didn’t care for it as much as the others, given its drastically different style, but I still liked the game overall.

    My friends were fellow Zelda freaks, and I would at times spend hours with them on the phone talking about the game, sharing tips, and so forth. In school, I once got in trouble for talking about the game to a classmate during class. I wrote Zelda fanfiction years before I ever heard of the term. I drew my own Zelda adventures and dreamed up my own Zelda boardgames. I was obsessed. When Ocarina of Time came out, I could barely contain my excitement… and then slight disappointment at the relatively boring early stages of the game. Once I got into it, though, it was clear why it was so highly regarded. That was the last time I got really excited about Zelda. My obsession would then shift to Final Fantasy.

  5. fred Says:

    i had just turned four (born in 1983). my dad took me to the local toys r us to buy a new nintendo game. he asked one of the sales clerks if they had any games to recommend to us. he mentioned that the legend of zelda had just came out, and that it would be a good choice.

    we checked out the little display flap that toys r us used for its nes games at the time, and it looked good to the both of us, so we decided to purchase it.

    i can’t really remember the first time i played it or my feelings about it, but i do know that i played the hell out of that cartridge from when i was four all the way up to when i was ten, when my dad had to sell our nes / games to fund the purchase for a sega genesis.

  6. TheSaintOfPain Says:

    I first played the original LOZ on the day it was released here in the States, and have been in love with the series since. (Yes, even The Adventures Of Link, which I personally think is one of the most underrated games on the NES.) Especially for the time, it was one of the most unique games ever to be released, and I was awestruck, even for being 5 years old at the time, and just how huge and innovative it was. My father, my brother, and I spent countless hours figuring out where the next heart container was, or what the letter was supposed to be used for, and there was never a moment that I didn’t enjoy picking up the controller and building up rupees for my dad. I can beat LOZ in just an afternoon at longest now, but even in that relatively short amount of time, I still have some of the most fun I ever have playing a video game.

  7. DNA Says:

    I don’t remember the first time I played the game, but do remember painstakingly creating a detailed, hand-drawn map of the entire overworld (before any magazines or strategy guides were printing them)…which ended up being three or four pieces of paper taped together. Then, I loaned it to a friend, who loaned it to another friend and…never saw it again.

    By the way, if you’re that person can I have it back please?

  8. jdiwnab Says:

    When I was little, I was always bothering my dad, trying to watch him play the original LOZ, or Links Awakening on the Gameboy. He would complain about me crowding the screen, especially on the Gameboy. In trying to see I was always getting my head in the way.

    Finally, on a vacation, my dad let me play Links Awakening on the gameboy. Resuming from one of his saved games, the first level I ever played was the third one in Links Awakening, the one with the slime eye as the boss. I was quite proud of myself at the time, and that is still my favorite level, if only for sentential reasons.

    What has me turned off from the series is the very repetitive patterns that have shown up recently. Phantom Hourglass had you go back to the same dungeon after ever level, do the same puzzles, sneaking around, just to get a little further. They are relying on maps to unlock parts of the world, rather than the almost seamless worlds that restricted your movement on gaining a new item (rocks to block the path until you get the bracelet, holes until you have the feather, etc). It is like they gave up trying to come up with new overworlds and exploration, and just use a rather tired formula.

  9. arlandi Says:

    you know what? i just realized that Legend of Zelda series has the same theme with Mario!! Princesses in trouble!

    Thanks Benj!

  10. mercatfat Says:

    my first owning of LoZ came in 1992, when my uncle gave me his kids’ NES stuffs as a Christmas present. but even before that, my cousin from the other side of the family (sadly now deceased, and who was the closest person i had to a brother or sibling) and i ventured to Ganon and had NO IDEA how to beat him. we spent nearly a half hour hitting him, then trying to finish him off.

    it was my idea to try the silver arrow. still quite proud of that.

    especially given where i grew up, i played the NES as if it the games were fresh new hotness even back in 1994. it didn’t help that the antique shop i was buying games through my parents from also had the entire run of Nintendo Power at 75 cents a pop and the video rental stores still skewed NES, so i basically lived 6-odd years in the gaming past.

  11. Chris Osborne Says:

    For Christmas one year I got a Game Boy and Link’s Awakening to go with it. I played that thing for about 7 hours straight and only stopped because the batteries died.

    It was awesome.

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