The Legend of Zelda is an action-adventure game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, The Legend of Zelda was released in August 1987 in North America. The game was developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo, and was highly influential to the console action-adventure genre.
The game is the first in the Legend of Zelda franchise, starring a young boy named Link on his quest to rescue Princess Zelda from the evil wizard Ganon. In this game, Link must collect the pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom to reforge it and defeat Ganon.
The Legend of Zelda was both a critical and commercial success. It was renowned for its innovative gameplay, non-linearity, and ability to save games via its battery powered RAM.
Unlike the other worldwide releases, the original Japanese Famicom Disk System version of The Legend of Zelda took advantage of a notable piece of hardware which was absent in the Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe and North America: a microphone built into the controller. If a microphone was included in the controller wired to the first slot, players could yell into it to defeat Pols Voices in the game.
Although the feature itself is still included in the coding in European and North American versions of the game, the lack of a microphone for those controllers prevented players in those regions from accessing that aspect of the gameplay directly.
The Legend of Zelda takes place in the land of Hyrule. The evil sorcerer, Ganon, had ravaged the land with his armies in searching for and acquiring the Triforce of Power. In order to keep Ganon from also gaining the Triforce of Wisdom, Princess Zelda divided it into eight pieces and scattered them in hidden dungeons throughout Hyrule.
Zelda's assistant, Impa, escaped to seek out one who may rescue Zelda from Ganon. But Impa was hunted down and surrounded by Ganon's henchmen but was saved by a young boy named Link. Impa told Link all that had happened, and Link resolved to find the Triforce, defeat Ganon, and rescue Princess Zelda.
In The Legend of Zelda, the player controls Link from a top-down perspective. The A button is dedicated to the sword, and the B button can be assigned to any other item in Link's inventory. At the start of the game, Link starts with only a small shield, but throughout the game, he is able to gather many items including: three different swords, two boomerangs, a large shield, a ladder, a raft, a bow and arrow, bombs, candles, potions, a power bracelet, a magic wand, a flute, two rings, a magic key, and the silver arrow. Items may be gathered from dungeons as well as purchased from merchants.
Link starts the game in the overworld where he must search for eight secret dungeons, each holding a piece of the Triforce. The overworld is varied and contains many environments including mountains, lakes, deserts, forests, caves, coastal regions, and a graveyard. The overworld is filled with many creatures which often drop rupees (the in-game currency) or hearts when defeated. There are also living-restoring fairies scattered throughout the overworld.
The dungeons are underground labyrinths containing secret passages, locked doors, special items, and many enemies. Each dungeon has a unique shape (eagle, lion's head, snake, etc.) to make them easier to navigate.
Each dungeon also contains special items which are used to assist Link with his quest including a map and compass which help Link find his way to the dungeon's final boss. Upon defeating the boss, Link receives a heart container and a piece of the Triforce. There are a total of nine dungeons: eight containing Triforce pieces plus Ganon's fortress.
The game is also notable for its non-linearity. "Clues" are given sporadically by shopkeepers and other non-player characters, though the incredibly poor translation means these clues are rarely useful in the English version. For example, the cryptic "Dodongo dislikes smoke" is meant to be a hint to use bombs on the Dodongo boss in the second dungeon.
The "Second Quest" is one of the first times that a New Game Plus feature was accessible in a game. After one completion of the game, the player has the option to start over a more difficult game, where enemies are tougher, item placement is different, and dungeons are reworked. Additionally, the Second Quest can be accessed at any time by naming the character ZELDA when starting a new file.
The Legend of Zelda was originally released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan on February 21, 1986. The game was later featured on the Nintendo Entertainment System with a North American release on August 22, 1987 and a PAL version released on November 15, 1987.
There have been several re-releases of this classic. In 1994, it was put into cartridge form for the Famicom. In 2002, it was hidden in the GameCube title Animal Crossing, but could only be accessed using the Action Replay cheat device. In 2003, it was released as part of the The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition. On February 14th 2004, it was re-released as part of the first series of Classic NES Series featured on the Game Boy Advance.
In 2006, it was made available on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console.
On September 1st, 2011, it was made available on the Nintendo 3DS as part of the "ambassador program". Currently it is only available to customers who bought a 3DS before the first price drop.
In 1995, a version of the game was broadcasted to Japanese Satellaview owners. Known as BS Zelda no Densetsu, the game featured updated graphics, reworked overworld and dungeons, as well as streaming audio in the form of vocal commentary that gave gameplay tips and plot points live as the game was streamed. It was streamed in four episodes over a month from August 6, 1995 to September 2, 1995. From December 30, 1995 to January 6, 1996, a second version of the game was broadcasted, titled BS Zelda no Densetsu MAP 2, which was the "Second Quest" version of the game.