System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date: November 21, 1991
First Played: 2007….on Wii Virtual Console
Status: DEFEATED – March 3, 2015
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most celebrated franchises in the history of Video Gaming. It is praised for its compelling characters, provocative story lines, its vast (and sometimes confusing) continuity, and especially its beautiful and even chilling soundtracks. Debuting in 1986, The Legend of Zelda is the definition of the QUEST; a person of humble beginnings tasked to take on impossible odds, helping the world and improving on him or herself in the process. It also is one of the first games to actually make you a part of the action by letting you name your character…the sprite you play as is literally your LINK to the world of Hyrule! A Link to the Past, the 3rd game in the series, was a massive success; praised for bringing back the “Top/Down Perspective” of the original while adding elements that became mainstays throughout the series, such as the Light/Dark worlds, the Ocarina and The Master Sword. But it’s been over 20 years since this game was released…can this game prove to be a “Hero of Time”…?
When First We Met
I had played the original Legend of Zelda and its sequel The Adventure of Link, but the first Zelda game I owned in the series was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (DX) for the Game Boy Color…
I loved everything about this game, and I made it mandatory to do and collect EVERYTHING! This trend continued in Oracle of Ages and Seasons, in the flawless Ocarina of Time and later in Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and A Link Between Worlds (and soon to happen in Majora’s Mask 3D!!). I had to collect the heart pieces, the weapons and complete any side missions…but my true vice? The BOTTLES!!!!!!! I NEEDED TO COLLECT THE BOTTLES!!!! I could never fully enjoy the game until I had them and filled them with fairies and potions…
I loved all these games…but there was one game that I could never find…The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past…if I was able to stumble upon someone selling it, it would be at a ridiculous price, and no one I knew owned it! And so, I never played it…that is until the advent of the Nintendo Wii and the Virtual Console! So, using a Wii Points Card I received for my birthday, I finally was the proud owner of this legendary game which I had heard so much about and desperately wanted to play!!!
…Which is the end of my journey; I downloaded it so I could finally have it, but at the time I was obsessing over Twilight Princess…and after that, whatever newer Wii games or classic games that I managed to find at my local flea market. So, much like an unexploded cracked wall, this game stayed hidden within my Wii, only to be forgotten as time went on…
Meanwhile in the Present
When I was putting together my QUEST list, I tried to include some Wii games. I hadn’t played my Wii in quite a while, since I was enjoying the Wii U, so I was surprised when I looked at the main menu and saw that I had some downloaded games! Gunstar Heroes?? F-Zero!? Toe Jam and Earl: Panic on Funk-a-tron!?!?! I totally forgot that I downloaded these! What else did I download? Logging onto the Wii Shop channel, I looked at everything I had previously purchased…which is when I saw The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past! Oh yeah, I bought this! Oh wait…I NEVER PLAYED IT??? So that settled it, this would be the final game on my QUEST. To make the experience more authentic, I tried to get the actual SNES cartridge…but surprise surprise this game is stupid expensive, and as I lack the necessary finances, I settled for the Virtual Console version, which is the exact same game only it’s digital. So, without further adieu, I started the final chapter of Adamus Prime’s Video Game Quest…
After creating a save file, going by Adamus, my grand adventure BEGINS……in bed…My Uncle is sitting at a nearby table…I only see the one bed so I guess we share it? I don’t remember agreeing to that! Suddenly, I receive a telepathic message from Princess Zelda! She’s locked in the dungeon within Hyrule Castle by the Evil Wizard Agahnim (AH-GAH-NIM? AGA-NIM? Carl?) and needs me to come and rescue her! Before I do anything, my Uncle is all geared up and heads out, telling me to stay in bed…I guess he got the message too?
Naturally; I ignore my Uncle, pick up a lamp in a nearby chest and heading out after him. Let’s go save us some Zelda!! But…I don’t have a sword…a minor setback to be sure. While trying to find the castle, I go about figuring out the controls; I’m using the Wii Classic controller, but it is basically the same as an original SNES one. The “A” button is mostly used to talk to people or read signs, to push and pull things, and to lift and throw objects like pots and bushes and later on rocks! “A” also is used for running once you get the “Pegasus Boots”. “B” will be used to swing your sword; holding “B” powers up your sword for a big swing that can take out surrounding enemies. The “X” button lets you view a map of Hyrule; it starts as a zoomed in look at you immediate location; pressing “X” again zooms out to show all of Hyrule. Dungeon locations appear here or any location that demands your immediate attention.
“Y” uses one of the many many many items that can be found in the game; you can see all your items by pressing “Start” (or “+” in my case). “Select (for me “-“) opens the save option. The left and right triggers slide the screen left or right…this doesn’t really add anything to the game and I never used it.
So off I go to the Castle…which proves to be quite difficult to get into since a guard tells me to beat it…Poking around the outside leads me to a secret passage…I love the tune that plays when you find a secret, and I use it often in real life scenarios! Don’t believe me? Lose something and then have me find it…you’ll see! The dungeons are filled with guards…and the body of my mortally wounded Uncle!!!
You can’t name the Uncle in the game, so I’m going to call him Jimmy. Jimmy struggles to talk, he’s in bad shape and before he dies, he gives me his sword and shield, telling me that only I can save Princess Zelda now! Hell yeah!!! I mean…Uncie JimJim, No! Immediately accepting his death, I eventually find Zelda in prison…and guarded by…A GUARD!!
I remember these “Ball and Chain” guys from previous Zelda games, so I easily defeat him…though dying here would have been hilariously tragic. (Mornin’ Boss! Who, the green guy? Yeah I killed him…yup, the Hero of Legend…yeah the Princess is still locked up…man, he was really bad…yeah, no worries, see ya at lunch!) With Zelda free, we make our way through more dungeon to a secret passage that leads to a sanctuary where Zelda will apparently be safe.
I feel like so much has already happened in this game…and I just started playing 20 minutes ago! The Priest at the Sanctuary fills me in on what the hell is going on. Aga…Agahiminnnn…Agahaminahaminahamina…..….Aggy, a powerful wizard, has taken over Hyrule and wishes to break the seal to the “Dark World” to free the powerful demon king GANON!! To do this, he wants to kidnap the descendants of the Sages who trapped Ganon in the first place and send them to the Dark World, which would resurrect Ganon so he can take over the Light World (Hyrule)! Naturally, Zelda is one of these descendants, so she needs to hide out while I stop him. But what can stop the insane schemes of this dastardly wizard??? A sword that can only be wielded by the chosen Hero of Hyrule…The Blade of Evil’s Bane…THE MASTER SWORD.
I’m fine with that! So…where is it? Only one man knows where to find it and he’s in the nearby Kakariko Village; a descendant of the original forgers of the Master Sword known as…….*sigh*………. Sa….Saharsa…Sahasrahla…….what’s with these names???? Can’t I find someone named Sage Steve or Sage Rick?
So off I go to the village…..but he’s not there….after asking around, I’m eventually told that he’s near the Eastern Palace…I consult my map and off I go again! After some fun filled monster slaying, I finally find him!
Since just giving me the sword would be too easy and save too much time, Sassafras says I first must PROVE myself worthy by attaining 3 pendants guarded by monsters. OR I can prove I’m worthy by stabbing the wizard with the sword! How about that? No? Fine…so now my quest is to get pendants so I can have some street-cred to show off to the Sass-Man. The pendants are located in the Eastern Palace (which is near Sasso), The Desert Palace (not Dessert Palace as I first thought…) and finally the tower of Hera. As you progress through the dungeons you pick up several items such as the Bow and Arrow, the Moon Pearl and my favourite THE POWER GLOVE, which lets you lift rocks!
One of my favourite things about Zelda games are the items and how seamlessly they are worked into the dungeon puzzles. The dungeons always start the same; you trudging through the labyrinthine enemy filled passageways, having to take the scenic route as you don’t have that item to make things easier for you. But once you get it, it seems like an entirely different level! I love the feeling of getting past that one obstacle that was standing between me and the Boss! Speaking of Boss battles, you’re up against some doozies, like the one for the Eastern Palace
My favourite of these has to be the Eastern Palace boss. The last two are too similar, being long insect like creatures, while the first one is six massive dudes with swords trying to kill you! I found it much more intimidating, especially when they line up across the room and charge at you, there’s no going around them…only through them!!! Though the bosses here were a lot of fun, I felt it lacked difficulty…but this is just the beginning of the game, and Zelda games are known for very gradually upping the difficulty.
(Ba Da Da DAAAA!!!!) You Found the Master Sword! Your Bad-Assery has Increased by 10,000%!!
HOOYA!!! Time to stab some evil! Suddenly, Zelda contacts me telepathically, soldiers under the control of the evil wizard Aghagrapaga are approaching the Sanctuary where she’s been hiding! I Pegasus Boot my ass over…but I’m too late…the Priest has been stabbed! With his dying breath (there’s been A LOT of death so far!!) the Priest tells me that Zelda has been kidnapped (again) and brought to Hyrule Castle to be used along with the 6 other descendants of the Sages to break the seal to the Dark World! So off I go to Hyrule Castle; a protective barrier crumbles at the touch of my blade and the guards within are dispatched like a hot knife cutting through so many pieces of evil butter! One fun thing about the Master Sword besides the increase in attack power is the ability to shoot a laser when you are at full health! This just makes the palace guards that much easier to dispose of. Up and up the castle I go until finally I am face to face with Agahnim…but again I’M TOO LATE!
Before my very eyes, Zelda and the Sage Descendants are sent to the Dark World! I need to get them back; maybe a gut full of steel will convince the wizard! Following him to a balcony, I strike…but my sword does nothing!! Sassafras you jackass! That’s when I remember the final boss fight in “Link’s Awakening”; I need to hit his magic back at him! It works like a charm he’s down, but before I can deal the final blow, he flings me into the Dark World!! While in the Tower of Hera, I picked up something called a Moon Pearl, which allows me to be myself in the Dark World. You need this in order to play the second half of the game or else you are going to be stuck as…
…a Pink Bunny……. Apparently the Dark World brings out your true nature…which is why Ganon is a monstrous beast…but a Bunny? Bunnies are helpless fluffy creatures…not really the symbol of the Triforce of Courage. I would have liked a transformation more along the lines of “Twilight Princess” where he turns into a wolf!
So now I must free the 7 Sage Descendants! The only thing I found trickier than the dungeons themselves was trying to get to them! The Dark World is separated into sections, and many times, you have to use the Magic Mirror to jump back and forth between Hyrule and the Dark World in order to proceed…though to get back to the Dark world you need to find a hidden portal. I liked the puzzle aspect of this, but at times I felt it slowed down the action, but not by a lot. I guess I was always just anxious to get to the next dungeon! Just like before, the Seven Dungeons give you new items and really up the difficulty. As it would take far too long to discuss each in length, I’ll just mention my two favourites: Blind’s Hideout and Turtle Rock!
Blind’s Hideout is set up like your typical dungeon…except for one detail…her…
While going through the Dungeon, you discover one of the 7 descendants locked in a cage! She asked to be set free so she can go home…except, if you try to leave the dungeon with her she’ll tell you not to go that way….ok where then? Looking at my map I look at where I haven’t been and figure out our destination. This stage has a heavy influence on bomb usage; many times you have to bomb the floor in order to get to hard to reach places. Eventually I get to a room with a single patch of light on the floor, caused by me bombing the floor above. I wait for the maiden to reveal a stair case or something for us to exit from, but when she steps into the light she yells, “GYAAAH! Too BRIGHT!!” and turns into…
The boss!?!? It was a trap! I waste no time and attack; after dealing enough damage, its HEAD WILL COME OFF and start to fly around the room trying to kill you…then he grows another head and so on until you’re fighting 2 flying heads and a bed sheet monster!! A bottle of red potion and a mighty slash later and he’s done for. This boss wasn’t the hardest or best looking in the game but what I liked most was the surprise element! I’ll admit, I was legitimately fooled…I expected the maiden to be kidnapped and I’d have to save her again…not for her to be the actual monster!
Turtle Rock’s dungeon was the most interesting as it relies on you using tubes that shoot you through the dungeon in order to proceed…
My favourite has to be the boss of Turtle Rock, which as you could probably guess is a turtle…with three heads…
His colour scheme pretty much spells out how to attack him: Attack the “Ice” head with the Fire Rod and the “Fire” head with the Ice Rod! After the colourful heads explode, his shell cracks open to reveal a snake body!!
Defeating him releases the final Sage Descendant…Zelda!! She and the other sages open the path to the final battle in Ganon’s Tower!
…But before I confront the Ultimate Evil, I now begin my favourite part of Zelda games…COLLECTING EVERYTHING!! I want to face Ganon at 100%, which includes full hearts, ALL BOTTLES, and one of the stranger side quests, tempering the Master Sword to make it even more powerful! To increase the Master Sword’s power, you have to find a frog in the Dark World, bring him back to the Light World (which turns him back into a dwarf smithy) and then reunite him with his blacksmith partner.
I was able to find the majority of the heart pieces by myself, and 3 out of the four bottles, but at a loss of what else to do, I consulted the website Zeldadungeon (www.zeldadungeon.net) for some help. Finally at 100% I was ready to face Ganon……or so I thought…There was another item I got in Ganon’s tower, Red Mail, which made my defence even stronger and what I thought was the final battle was actually a second Agahnim fight!!
Oh no you didn’t!!!!
Agatha Christy talks some smack before attacking, which is the same as our first encounter except this time he splits into 3 versions of himself!! To beat him, you have to deflect his dark magic back and hit the correct one! Fully stalked with fairies and red potion, I’m able to easily deal the killing blow…
As Agragragragra dies, a bat emerges from his body and flies away…was that Ganon?? He was possessing the wizard the whole time? I blow my Ocarina and give chase to the Golden Pyramid (which houses the Triforce) in the middle of the Dark World where Ganon has crashed through the roof!
I run off to refill my bottles…and then I enter the actual FINAL BATTLE!
It was more difficult than I expected. I guess I was a bit cocky going in with everything upgraded. Ganon moves around the stage throwing his Trident like a boomerang. After dealing enough damage, he changes his attack, creating rings of fire and shooting fire bats at you. After more damage he changes tactics once again, making the outer boarder of the room collapse, limiting my space even further. Eventually he turns out the lights and becomes invisible! The only way to see him to attack is to light the flames at the bottom of the screen, all while dodging his invisible attacks!! I keep attacking but nothing works! Eventually I’m overwhelmed and pushed over the side into the abyss…Well, Game Over…except instead of meeting my demise I land in a room below! Nearby is a panel (one of many spread throughout the game) which allows me to communicate with Sasasarasarasa …Sassy gives me some really great advice!
She’s located in a cracked wall outside the Golden Pyramid. Throwing the Bow and Arrow into the pool changed them to the Silver Arrows! That’s when I remember that in other Zelda games, Ganon is weak against Silver or Light Arrows. Blast! My forgetfulness almost got me killed! So, refilling my bottles with potion (this is getting expensive!) I face Ganon once more…
Not The Secret Technique of Darkness!!!
Knowing his attacks, I fare better in round two, and I’m ready for him when he turns out the lights. I dance between lighting fires and striking blows until Ganon freezes! This is it! The moment Sassy told me to look for! I fire my arrows which brings forth an SNES grunt form Ganon. I go again and again, using a fairy and my last red potion! Then with a final shot, I send Ganon aflame in a massive explosion, sending him burning and screaming to whatever hell will have him! I stand, alone, sword raised…….VICTORIOUS!!!
The Triforce! It tells me that I have completely destroyed Ganon (that’s what you think!) and that I can make a wish! Having no control over the wishing process, I watch as everything is set back as it should be!
The King is alive!
Even Uncle Jimmy is alive again!!
Hyrule is saved…
My QUEST…is over…
I’m glad I waited this long to play this game. Though it isn’t the best Zelda game in my opinion (top honours go to Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess) it is still an incredible game! At first I felt that the final boss battle was a bit of a letdown, what with the more epic cinematic filled battles of more recent titles, but for what the SNES was capable of, I think this is the best ending we could ask for.
The dungeons are all unique and never repetitive and the amount of side quests is ridiculous. There is always something to do and I can definitely see myself replaying this in the future. The music is fantastic and the story, though nothing overly complicated, still adds the necessary suspense that makes every battle that much more important and every victory that much more sweet.
The only problem I had was having to teleport back and forth between Hyrule and the Dark World. It slowed down my progress to the dungeons, but on the plus side it did add an extra puzzle element.
So, what do you think? Are you going to track down an original copy and play it or cheap out like me and just download it? Does this make you want to play the remaining games of the series? Are you as excited as I am about the New Wii U Zelda game? Or even better, the possibility of the Live Action Legend of Zelda TV show on Netflix??? Sound off in the comments below!!!
Well, I guess there’s only one more question to ask…
As I watched Hyrule return to its peaceful state, I realized that this was really it. I had done what at first seemed to be an impossible journey. I played 25 games that I had never defeated in the hopes of succeeding where I had failed so many times before. Each game brought me memories of my childhood, my teen years and even my immature adulthood. I remembered Christmas’ gone by; friendships formed and lost, games I would play to impress, to relax, and to forget. It really showed me just how much video games have been a part of my life.
I know it sounds odd, these “Time Wasters” making an impact on me, but it’s true. I’ve always been one for pretending, which I guess is why I like acting so much. Like video games, I find acting is a release; a chance for me to not be Adam McNamara: Contract Accounting Clerk 2 in Cluster B in the Tenders and Payments Unit. I can be a hero, a villain, a giant monkey throwing barrels, a plumber. I can be Adamus Prime.
So now what? Well, writing this blog has been a lot of fun. I felt it gave a voice and an opinion that was outside the usual game review, and hopefully it allowed the reader (the awesome you who is currently reading) a change to reminisce as well. Hopefully you agreed and even disagreed with what I had to say over this 8 month Odyssey. But most importantly I hope you had as much fun as I have. The QUEST is defeated, but in the words of one famous princess…
But that’s another story.
Till then, thank you for reading.