Now at last we come to one of my old favourites and also one of the most ridiculously priced games I’ve ever seen. Prices for this seem to change at random on eBay. One minute its £5 then the next it’s hitting as high as £15 and that’s not even mentioning the boxed cart prices. Lucky for me I was able to get my hands on a US copy quite cheaply from a forum.
I should start with the most memorable part of this game. Who doesn’t remember the theme from Zelda? It still sends a chill down my spine whenever I think back to all that time over the years spent hunting for rupees, searching for those well known weapons and killing the all too familiar monsters. The Zelda games are famous for drastically changing worlds and game play between incarnations yet still retaining the same familiar core parts that keep the series great. I’m sure every Nintendo fan has a favourite Zelda moment and mine has always been leaping the fence at Lon Lon Ranch on the back of Epona in Ocarina of Time.
But what’s it like going back to where it all began? Starting a new game for the first time and taking Link on the beginning of his adventures? Well I’m glad to say it’s all good and the game can still be said to hold up to play today. Most of the world map can be explored right from the off and none of the enemies are too taxing. The meat of the game so to speak is centred in the 8 dungeons where you get chance to find several pieces of Triforce, battle a dungeon boss and gain a brand new weapon. Out of all the weapons I find myself returning to the boomerang often as it can be a lot of fun firing it out in one corner then running across the screen as it slices through your enemies.
The puzzles are a bit lacking and mostly involve blowing a hole in a wall with a bomb, pushing a few blocks about or finding some keys. Yet you can still see where the idea’s for future games started (such as the ladder for crossing small pools, raft for crossing lakes) as just about everything that appears in the later part of the series is shown here in some way. I did find the game a bit easy and I was able to complete 3 dungeons in just one sitting (barely a couple of hours) though I did find having a download of the top world map came in handy. It’s very easy to get lost when it comes to finding locations as there’s not many directions compared to later games. During play I kept thinking to myself that this was more Zelda light but it’s certainly worth playing to see where it all started.
I actually made the effort to complete this in a few sittings and once complete you do have the option to replay a much harder version. So there’s plenty of fun to be had from the cart. One thing I’ve always wondered (and despite searching the net couldn’t find an answer) is to why the Zelda carts were released in gold, if there was a specific marketing campaign that pushed this or even if any other games were released in similar cart colours. It also leaves me wondering if there are similar games on the NES.