Four classics, and a crippling glitch on the one I wanna play.

User Rating: 8 | The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition GC
The Zelda brand is always going to be thought alongside great gameplay and captivating mythology. Personally, I became a fan around the time Ocarina of Time launched, but truly didn't get on it until The Wind Waker, so I wanted to find the games I had missed. Thankfully, I managed to get this compilation and blazed through all the games I didn't get to play back when I was enthralled by 8-bit motorcycles and a fat plumber with a raccoon tail.

The menu is simple and to the point. The logo of each title flashes and gives out some sort of animation, making this more than just a lifeless menu. a small retrospective can be read for each available game, to which Navi's sound clips play every time you press the button. Annoying to some, amusing to me. There's a small video retrospective (outdated nowadays) that marks a few of the series' shining points (and some spoilers, watch out), a Wind Waker trailer and a Wind Waker demo. The videos don't do much for me, and the Wind Waker demo is the same you might have played in demo booths back in late 2002 or early 2003. Nice bonuses, but the meat is in the games.

First up is The Legend of Zelda. The Original. And boy, does it show. The graphics are downright ugly, even for NES standards. Sure, it flows well enough, but there's this uneven level of work in the visuals (Dragon boss looks cool, Link looks stumpy) that irks me. Sound is nice, and that catchy Zelda theme plays everywhere. In fact, going through my mind, there are only three tunes in the game: Overworld, Dungeon and Final Dungeon. That said, the gameplay is tight, controls are simple to understand, it's actually fun just getting lost and trying to find out how to move forward, and this baby can get hard. Emulation is perfect, and they even polished up the opening script to a more understandable English.

Zelda II is an unexpected surprise. Hearing how this was the black sheep of the family (CDi unholy triforce aside), my expectations were low, and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's shorter than Zelda 1 (7 dungeons vs. a staggering 18 in Zelda 1), and the side-scrolling format was weird compared to other 2D Zeldas, it had a charm of its own. The graphics were polished, the music is catchy (can't get the Temple music off my head!), the swordplay is improved (and later used in other Zelda games and SSB) and this was the Zelda game that introduced us to the Magic system, Towns and townsfolk, and several memorable enemies, including the always famous Dark Link. And it's HARD. It's easily the toughest Zelda title to date. I can see how people like this less than the other Zeldas, but to me, it's a true classic. It helps that it was emulated perfectly and the english script was revised.

Ocarina of Time... What can I say? It is the Zelda game everybody will turn to when coming up with an example for the series. Thankfully, this was well emulated... except for the fact that it feels like it's more sluggish than the original N64 version. Maybe that's the lowered framerate at work. Controls somehow translate nicely into the GameCube pad, except for the analog sensitivity (expect lots of frustrating fumbling to line up a perfect shot with your bow). Graphics look better than on N64 thanks to the increased resolution (480p vs 320x240) and removed slowdown.

And there there was Majora's Mask. This is the reason this compilation gets an 8. The game is fantastic. The three-day mechanic is brilliantly implemented. NPCs feel more like actual people going on about their daily lives. The overall feel is darker than OoT. The fact that it has only 4 full dungeons doesn't feel like a bad thing. Music is wonderful. It'll pull at your heartstrings and make you feel bad for NPCs you ignore. But... the emulation work was shoddy. The framerate takes a significant hit here, music can get criminally choppy (just use the observatory's telescope for an example), and worst of all, it has a crippling glitch that can make the game crash anytime you exit a room to enter a new area. This is bad enough on its own, but mixed with the game's weird saving system (Play the Song of Time to save permanently, lose all collectibles; save with an owl, it's temporary and you better save later unless you wanna lose your progress), and this becomes so annoying you might rage-quit after the third game crash. Apparently, the game and the emulator take up the entire Gamecube's RAM (and more, since the game is never fully loaded), and that's why these problems occur. Personally, it was just lazy programming in their part. Had they made a more efficient emulator, or had they just ported over Majora's Mask to use Gamecube code, those headaches would've been solved.

So there you have it. Four Zelda games, three had adequate-to-perfect emulation jobs, and Majora's Mask, though playable, has many troubling bits with its emulation. If you can just play this game on the N64 or on Wii's Virtual Console. If you only have this option... good luck. You'll need it.