While Nintendo Inquirer is extremely excited about our upcoming selection of Zelda articles throughout the year, all part of our very own Year of Zelda, we also think it’s important to recognize today, February 21st, as a very important event – as it’s the day the first game was released 30 years ago in Japan. You can check out a full retrospective on the original game here, but we also want to recognize the impact that the game and the series as a whole has had on the gaming community the world-over.
Link is of a select few gaming icons that can be recognized by any individual you may ask, gamer or not. On the off-chance that they don’t recognize the character, I guarantee you they’ll recognize the name “The Legend of Zelda” or the iconic look of the Triforce. And there’s a reason for this. “We named the protagonist Link because he connects people together,” Shigeru Miyamoto writes in Hyrule Historia, which came out during the 25th anniversary of the series. Link was intentionally made as a character that people could reflect not only themselves onto, but others as well, which really allowed players to feel a deep, emotional connection with him.
Despite each one of Link’s adventures being more than fantastical, any experienced Zelda player will tell you that each one feels as realistic as the next. When a player can feel as if they’re being thrown straight into the game their playing, you know it’s going to have a lasting impact.
And what a lasting impact it had! Not only did Link serve as an inspiration and icon for the video game world as he became more popular, but the first game and the following games as a whole have their place in history as well. The original, 30 year old, title is considered a forerunner for the RPG genre. It’s no secret that Nintendo was one of the first companies to establish themselves in the gaming world, and what we consider as some of the most popular genres of today may not have even had a start before Nintendo came along. The original Legend of Zelda was a pioneer in this type of gameplay, even if it didn’t include features we typically associate with RPGs nowadays. It acted as an influence towards the change in combat type in video games as well, with many games adopting its real-time action over the standard turn based combat systems that came before. Its nonlinear gameplay and progress saving features were also wildly new and different, and at the time could have even been considered risky.
The fact that a series can last for 30 years is a statement in and of itself. The amount of sheer entries alone is a testament to the series’ strength, with countless sequels and prequels as well as a few spin-offs. Not one of the main games has ever aggregated an average review score of less than 70%, with more than half receiving above a 90% throughout its lifespan. It’s also one of the only series to have received multiple perfect scores on Famitsu, and Ocarina of Time was even featured in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008 for being the highest rated game of all time. As a whole, the series has sold over 62 million copies, with many of the entries being among the highest selling games of their respective consoles, if not the highest selling.
The franchise has also taken risks. Despite Hyrule Warriors’ establishment as a spinoff Zelda game, we can’t forget that it technically exists as a crossover with the ever-popular Dynasty Warriors series. The first two games spawned a 13-episode cartoon series which, despite its lack of quality, is still instantly recognizable (and sparked the popular “Well excuuuuuse me, Princess!” quote). Various comics and manga have been created following the plots of each game, and while it ended up just being a rumor, it’s still important to note the immense amount of backing and excitement from fans when it was reported there was supposedly going to be a Netflix Original Series based off of the Zelda franchise.
Zelda games also often find themselves referenced in or by other media, such as television, film, and literature, and even by celebrities and other people of note. Hideki Kamiya, the director of Okami, has cited that he was influenced by the series while creating the game, and that A Link to the Past is his favorite game of all time. Creator of the Fable series, Peter Molyneux has mentioned that Twilight Princess is one of his favorite games of all time.
And while Link’s been on many an adventure in his homeworld, he’s also seen plenty of other places, too! He’s obviously been a star in the Super Smash Bros. series since the launch of the first game, with some of his comrades and enemies joining up later, but he also traveled to Soul Calibur II for a different type of fighting experience, even going so far as to adorn the front cover of the game with his Master Sword. Link is also famous for being the first non-Mario character to have ever made an appearance as a racer in Mario Kart via the series’ first DLC, and has also been known to nap frequently in the Rose Town hotel from Super Mario RPG. He’s even made his way through your custom levels on Super Mario Maker and lent his tunic to Bayonetta in the Wii U editions of her games.
While Ocarina of Time is often cited for its pioneering and influence in the transition from 2D to 3D graphics, and is mostly regarded as the best game in the series, if not of all time, the entire series really deserves the same kind of praise. Zelda has been in the forefront of gamers’ minds for decades, and the franchise shown no signs of stopping any time soon. With quite possibly the most ambitious Zelda game to date making its way to the Wii U this year, as well as Hyrule Warriors Legends and Twilight Princess HD on the way just next month, fans of the series have plenty to look forward to.
Thank you, Nintendo, for a wonderful 30 years of this incredible franchise, and here’s to another 30!Leave a Comment