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, MetroidFinal 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.

About The Author

Brien Bell is the News Editor for Invisible Gamer and a freelance writer, gamer, Star Wars fanatic, and cooking show fiend from Sacramento, CA. As a PlayStation and Star Wars devotee, he’s contributed to TheGamerComplex.com, PSNation.org and EUCantina.net. Follow his ranting and raving on at various online communities by clicking the links below.

  • http://invisiblegamer.net Michael Burns

    While I’d say Wind Waker is the best Zelda game, overall, I think your best bet would be to pick up some form of 3DS. Besides the NES games being available, you’ve also got a trio of AMAZING Game Boy Color games – Link’s Awakening being my favorite. To start, though, you can’t really go wrong with Ocarina of Time 3D – the definitive version of the highest rated game of all time. And if you can get an ambassador system, on eBay perhaps, you’ve got Minish Cap, too, which has probably the best sprite work in any Zelda game (but if you go that route, make sure the system isn’t scratched on the screen… a problem with older models and first run 3DS XLs.)

    And of course, ALBW is coming up, soon…

  • Kamille

    Link to the Past (virtual console) and then Wind Waker (HD remake). That’s all you need since the formula of this franchise hasn’t changed much in like 20 years. All the 2D Zelda games play just like Link to the Past and all the 3D Zelda games play the same as Ocarina of Time, but Wind Waker looks good and it has an HD remake, so is better to go directly to that one (the navigation is kind of tedious though).

  • JJS

    The best place to start would probably be to pick up a 3DS, 3DSXL (if you can afford it) or a new 2DS (which is a 3DS without the “3D”) if you’re budget is limited.

    On the 3DS family you can play (by either buying retail or 3DS Virtual console/download) ALL of these Legend of Zelda games:

    1) Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D (which is currently in my 3DS, and since I AM a huge LoZ fan I recently started play the “Master Quest”). Definitely one of the greats of the series and is fairly easy to get into.

    2) The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (you may be able to find a used copy at your local Gamestop, or other used games store, alternatively you could order off ebay or Amazon). Definitely a gateway game if you want a LoZ on the easy side (but not really one of the best). People sometimes dislike the stylus only controls on this game but it’s really up to personal preference, for me it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

    3) The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (one of my personal favorites) and harder than Phantom Hourglass, streamlined “central dungeon” and had personality, it was cute as well as just a fun adventure. Would definitely recommend picking this up (it was also a DS game so you may be able, once again to find it at your local Gamestop).

    4) The Legend of Zelda (original NES game) is available on the 3DS Virtual Console eshop (I think it goes for around $5.00 USD) not the easiest game in the series, so I wouldn’t start with this one, but it is fun and you get to see the early roots of the series.

    5) The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) is also available through the 3DS Virtual console, and IS ALSO a difficult game (and THIS ONE IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE), but it is not easy to get into. It also changes up the formula from most LoZ games in that most of the gameplay takes place in a side-scrolling format rather than top down (which is only used to get from point A-B-C-D and to encounter enemies which take you to a side scrolling scene once encountered..).

    6) The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (the version from Gameboy Color) has also been released on the 3DS Virtual Console. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTELY Charming game and you will notice that though the Gameboy was technologically limited it seemed to convey some of the same gameplay as seen in “A Link to The Past” on SNES. I WOULD DEFINITLEY PICK THIS UP as it is a GREAT gateway game for the Legend of Zelda series (btw: Princess Zelda doesn’t make an appearance at all in this game).

    7)The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons originally released on Gameboy Color was also released on the 3DS Virtual Console (along with its twin game Oracle of Ages) completes a quest which when pared with the other game is absolutely great@! This game focuses more on action.

    8) The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages originally released alongside Oracle of Season on the Gameboy color has also been released on the 3DS Virtual Console, this game focus on puzzle elements in the LoZ series, but it is also a gem (both this game and Oracle of Seasons have taken their inspiration from Link’s Awakening stylistically and graphically).

    There were two other LoZ games released on 3DS, but they are not available to the general public at this thime.

    Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition, and Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.

    Hope this helps,

    -JS

    • http://invisiblegamer.net Michael Burns

      dude, that’s awesome. that’s pretty much what I was trying to say, but more detailed. and I completely forgot to mention the DS games, even though I have phantom hourglass in my 3DS right now. thanks! P.S. I also love Spirit Tracks and Link’s Awakening 🙂

  • http://www.minifortress.com Parko

    I agree with the above poster: the Nintendo 3DS may be the best way to get a Zelda fix today. Personally, I’d recommend starting with The Legend of Zelda (NES) then moving onto Ocarina of Time 3D, if only for comparison’s sake.

  • Seth

    OH MAN. When you mentioned demo discs I was taken back to the day when demo discs were basically games for me. I played them so much it was ridiculous. I remember playing the demo for Tony Hawks Pro Skater and 2xtreme FOR–E–VER.

  • Axe99

    If it makes you feel any better, I’m even worse – I’ve tried to play through Zelda:Ocarina of Time twice, and Wind Waker once, and both bored me into submission (something very, very few games do). I’m not saying they’re bad games – they’re clearly excellent, but they’re not for everyone ;). Both have aged well – the gameplay systems are solid and controls spot-on – so if you find you like ’em, I highly recommend giving them a go :).