With the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the Nintendo 3DS approaching, we at Invisible Gamer have taken some time to focus on the world of Link, Zelda, Ganon, and the various odds and ends of one of gaming’s most treasured franchises. But, to be honest, I’ve felt a little left out in the midst of all the Zelda talk.
That’s because I’ve never played a single Legend of Zelda game.
Before the angry letters and pitchforks come out and my “gamer” card is taken away, let me present the facts of the matter. Console gaming, for me, began with the original PlayStation. Before that, I’d have to play at friends’ houses for the likes of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, SEGA Genesis, and beyond. The few games I did play early in my life were on the PC–usually educational adventure games or simple platformers, including Oregon Trail II and Cliff Bleszinski’s earliest effort, Jill of the Jungle. When my family finally caved and bought a dedicated game system, it wasn’t a console, but rather the SEGA GameGear.
In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I’ll say about that.
By the mid-1990s I hadn’t been exposed, on a regular basis, to what are now considered the classics of 8- and 16-bit gaming. Besides Zelda, I’d never touched the likes of Castlevania, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, or any number of titles that are treasured in the Golden Age of Gaming. When the original PlayStation was hooked up to our television, you would find a copy of Crash Bandicoot and Crash: Warped, Cool Boarders 2, a demo disc that included Spyro, Tomb Raider, and Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi, and possibly early Madden and FIFA titles–but not the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Cross, or Resident Evil.
When it came time to pick up the next piece of gaming hardware, I didn’t go with a PlayStation 2, or a Dreamcast, or even that crazy new black box from Microsoft. I went with the Nintendo GameCube. Perhaps now I might finally play one of those classic franchises that I had missed in my youth. Maybe I had seen the error of my ways and was looking to makeup for years of lost gaming milestones.
No, I really wanted a GameCube because that’s where Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was going to be. By the late 90s and early 2000s, it was Star Wars that drove my pursuit of entertainment, which brought me to the first Nintendo system my house had seen since my sister’s GameBoy Color (which, yes, I could have used to play any number of awesome Zelda portable games… but didn’t). I even went back and briefly bought a Nintendo 64 so I could relive the glory days of Shadows of the Empire and the original Rogue Squadron, plus a little GoldenEye. But no Ocarina of Time. No Majora’s Mask. No Wind Waker or Twilight Princess.
The fact that I haven’t played some of the most iconic franchises in gaming history is one I’m interested in, but hesitant to correct. But where do I start? And how do I do it? Do I go back and re-purchase the systems of my youth, to play these games on the consoles where they found their audience, in their original glory? Do I invest in new hardware with the hope that, as with the Wii U and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, old games will be made new again for a generation that hasn’t grown up playing them?
The concern that rests here is twofold: personal finances, and time management. The game industry rests for no man or woman, and the new is so very, very close at hand. But there’s something to be said for taking a moment, or even a few, to look back and reflect on what has made gaming great. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Zelda is one of the reasons why video games have endured and will continue to do so, even if my body just hasn’t been ready for it yet. Soon, though. Especially if my editors have anything to say about it.