Simply put, a true classic that every action adventure fan should play!
Recently, Gamespot celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Zelda franchise by showing off some of the most iconic games in the series by way of a marathon. This rehashed some major nostalgia, so I had to get out the Legend of Zelda Collectors Edition (GC) and finally complete the very first quest to save princess Zelda. (Note: The smaller D-Pad on the GameCube controller is not the best way to experience this classic, but if this is your only option it is only a slight deterrent)
First off, I was surprised to notice how many mechanics and details that have been used in just about every Zelda game to date. These similarities include the musical themes being used, using fire to light up dark rooms, bombing walls, transporting using musical instruments, aiming for an enemies weak spots, gathering better equipment, gaining hints from the inhabitants of Hyrule, etc. One element that the Zelda franchise is known for that is missing in this entry is the puzzle solving. Really the only puzzles found in this game involve moving a block or figuring out the correct directions to go to escape a never ending forest. The real emphasis here is on combat, which will have you hitting the A button quite a bit.
The graphics and sound design are dated, but a romp through an 8-bit Hyrule is not too different from the top down style of many of the portable entries in the franchise. The sound is wonderful. If you have played any Zelda game you will recognize many of the themes presented throughout the game.
The Legend of Zelda has held up remarkably well for it's age. A noticeable difference from this era of adventure games to most modern adventure games is the lack of direction. There is no arrow showing you which way to walk, which lends itself to the sense of adventure and discovery. One must is to find a map of the overworld online, this will help to fight any frustration that may come with getting lost while wandering around the overworld. There is plenty to do, having 9 dastardly dungeons and quite a few extra hidden rooms to find. I was surprised by the length of the game, taking at least 5 to 10 hours to beat the first time through then having a second quest for those looking for more adventure.
The game can be extremely difficult if you do not hunt down the right items before entering certain dungeons. For example, you can walk around the world without a sword or never actually find the boomerang. This would make the game much harder, but inevitably leads to a greater feeling of accomplishment every time you find a new item. You are given the freedom to complete the game without finding every item (though some are absolutely necessary to progress to new areas). Despite the intriguing thought of being a sword-less wanderer, you will need all the advantages you can get in order to make it through the final dungeon and defeat Ganon. (Note: This is truthfully a tough game to complete and can certainly be considered a test of skill)
All in all, this game is an amazing accomplishment in gaming history and helped shape the action adventure genre that we know and love today. It is a must play for any gamer who wants to experience the conception of many of the ideas and themes that still inhabit the franchise.