The Legend of Zelda is a video game developed and published by Nintendo. It was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka and is the first is a long line of Zelda games in Nintendo's extremely popular franchise. Link has become one of Nintendo's most popular mascot's after Mario. The game is a top down action adventure game which is said to have defined the action RPG genre, though it focused much more on puzzles rather than typical RPG elements.
Miyamoto's team working on this game at the same time they were building Super Mario Bros. Zelda was designed as a polar opposite to that game and featured an open world and gameplay that required the player to think, Zelda became a unique experience that forced gamers to communicate in order to beat the game and discover all the secrets within it. Although Nintendo feared a tough adventure game like Zelda wouldn't succeed, the game was the first Nintnedo title to sell 1 million copies and eventually sold 6.5 million. The success of a marketing campaign in which players submitted registration cards and received a newsletter with info, tips and crosswords in return was so successful as well, it led to the creation of Nintendo Power, a subscription based magazine which is published by Nintendo or America and still in publication today.
Set in Hyrule, the game stars Link who is on a quest to collect the 8 pieces of the triforce in order to defeat the evil Gannon and save the princess Zelda.
The game features an overworld in which Link moves around a maze of screens defeating or avoiding enemies while searching for the entrances to the 8 dungeons which contain the pieces of the triforce. The overworld is filled with caves and secret passages which contain power-ups, shops, and characters that give Link advice.
Link starts with 3 hearts as his life gauge, but by defeating bosses and collecting hidden hearts can increase his life bar to 20 hearts. While Link is at full health he is able to shoot projectiles from his sword which can damage enemies from afar, but he loses this ability once he takes any damage.
New tools are found in each dungeon or bought from shops including a candle, bow, boomerang, raft, and more. These tools became commonplace in the Zelda series and allowed Link ways to access additional areas as well as defeat enemies in different ways.
The game also featured a saved system which was not common at that time and a huge help for players fed up with long passwords. The system allowed for 3 separate games to be played at a time allowing for multiple players to each have their own save file.
Upon completing the game the player can proceed to play the "Second Quest" a re-arranged version of the game in which all items, and dungeons are in different locations, and enemies are more difficult to defeat. The Second Quest can also be accessed at any time by starting a new file with the name "ZELDA".
The game was originally released with a gold colored cartridge in North America, it's one of the few licensed Nintendo titles not to feature a gray cartridge, although the later "classics" release of the game was on a gray cartridge. Because the gold cartridge was commonplace, the gray version of the game is slightly more valuable.
Nintendo released a great deal of merchandise related to The Legend of Zelda, including toys, books, novels, watches, apparel, trash cans, and a breakfast cereal called Nintendo Cereal System. The game also spawned an animated series, episodes of which were shown on television each Friday on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.
The Legend of Zelda spawned many sequels up through the Wii including portable versions. The next game in the series is Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
also for the NES.
The Legend of Zelda is available on Wii's Virtual Consoles as well as on the GBA, a Nintendo Game Cube disc entitled Legend of Zelda Collectors Edition 2.