2016 marks the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. Gamers have been lucky to be blessed with three whole decades of unforgettable adventures with Link, traversing the captivating kingdom of Hyrule and meeting some incredible characters along the way.
The Legend of Zelda is a gaming franchise that is not afraid to try new things, unlike many other Nintendo franchises (not naming any names), it is not afraid to mix up the original formula, changing art styles dramatically along with storyline and even the standard gaming mechanics. For example, the difference between the dark style and story of Twilight Princess differs greatly from that of Skyward Sword. However, both games are still incredible, showing the diversity of the series that stands the test of time, still producing award winning games, 30 years down the line.
Yes all Zelda games do follow the basic formula of solving puzzles in dungeons and beating bosses, however, each game provides a different take on this formula which is exactly why fans cannot agree on the best Legend of Zelda game because they are just all so different and so brilliant (*cough* Ocarina of Time wins *cough*).
2. Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time
I have by no means hidden my undying love for Ocarina of Time but I do believe that this love is not delusional. When The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time first came out on the Nintendo 64 something as breathtaking as Hyrule field had never been seen before. The sheer scale of tiny Link compared to the huge surrounding area really put into perspective just what an epic adventure this game was set out to be. Galloping through the vast field on Epona as the day turned to night truly was a sight to behold.
When the remake for the 3DS was released Hyrule Field took gamers breath away once more, newcomers and veterans alike. No game has stunned me like Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time did, the game itself is an absolute pleasure to play and the vastness of field and surrounding area cannot be matched in the same way.
Ocarina of Time itself is a reason why The Legend of Zelda is the best gaming franchise, however, Hyrule Field is a perfect example of a video game environment that has evoked emotions that no other game can compare to.
3. The Characters
Yes, she is more than a little annoying, I am sure we have all had reoccurring nightmares of Navi chasing us whilst shouting “HEY LISTEN”. I will continue to ignore her forevermore.
Having said this, she can be very useful, for newcomers in particular, always pointing out ‘helpful’ hints on where to go or what to do next. She is also without a doubt a memorable and very consistent character throughout the franchise, what would The Legend of Zelda be without her? (Probably a quiet, peaceful and happy place). We all love to hate her really and Zelda without Navi would become an oddly dysfunctional world I am sure.
Happy Mask Salesman
Why is he so happy? What is his real name? Why does he seem to know things he should not?
The Happy Mask Salesman raises so many unanswerable questions which makes him a very memorable character in The Legend of Zelda games. He first appears in Ocarina of Time in which he becomes decidedly terrifying if you do not return with the rupees for a mask he has given you to sell. However, he disappears for the adult portion of the game.
Happy Mask Salesman returns in Majora’s Mask in which he features much more prominently. Once again he acts pretty creepily and seems to have a habit of leaving Link with eerie amounts of knowledge and advice.
No gamer truly knows what the deal is with this dude that sells masks, all we know is that there is no other character like him which makes The Legend of Zelda franchise so unique and memorable.
Midna features in Twilight Princess as a sarcastic and rude character that rides wolf Link around like a horse, so basically a character we all aspire to be. However, her eventual friendship with Link is a very interesting element and her character is very different from others in the series which makes her stand out as one of the franchises more original additions.
All of the characters in The Legend of Zelda franchise are unforgettable whether they are funny, creepy or evil they are all so well designed and developed that gamers will never forget how they influenced the story and helped Link along during his adventures. No other franchise that I have played has provided such a colourful host of personalities to every single one of the series installments.
4. The Puzzles
The puzzles are where The Legend of Zelda really shines. Nothing beats that feeling of satisfaction where that one last block is pushed into place or that hidden torch finally found and you hear that wonderful click and the door is opened. You can almost taste the accomplishment.
Whether you are navigating through the vast Death Mountain, which has featured in the first Zelda game and many others afterwards because fans just love it so much and love how ridiculously difficult the puzzles are to solve (yay!) Or whether you are trying to figure out how the hell the water temple works in Ocarina of Time you will always be guaranteed an amazing dungeon with challenging but satisfying puzzles to solve.
The puzzles in The Legend of Zelda are not the simplest but they are such a pleasure to figure out that you will certainly be coming back for more, altohugh halfway through Death Mountain you will definitely be wondering why you are putting your brain through this again.
No other video game can compare to the excitement of entering a new dungeon and exploring by solving the puzzles and uncovering hidden secrets. I have never found a game to match the sense of discovery I feel playing Zelda.
5. Bringing out the best of Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda franchise has always expanded the boundaries of Nintendo. Ocarina of Time pushed the graphical capabilities of the N64 bringing a 3D Zelda experience never seen before.
The Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks on the Nintendo DS incorporated all of the touchscreen and microphone capabilities, utilising the console like no other games had previously.
Similarly, Skyward Sword used all of the Wii’s motion controls to ensure that every move was vital to Link’s survival and success.
That is what makes The Legend of Zelda so fabulous, the series always makes Nintendo’s latest consoles look good. If all else fails at least gamers always know that the latest console will most certainly have an amazing Zelda game available to play on it that will show off the consoles capabilities.
There is not one other gaming franchise that can do this as well as The Legend of Zelda has.
In my humble opinion, The Legend of Zelda is without a doubt the best gaming franchises has to offer. The amazing and memorable storylines with the addictive gameplay and controls suited perfectly for whichever console the game is created for, all come together to create unforgettable video games that ooze quality. If you have never played a Legend of Zelda game before I strongly urge you to…NOW.
Here’s to another 30 magnificent years of gaming at it’s best.
But remember as a wise old man once said some 30 years ago…
It’s dangerous to go alone!