Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Many Legends of Zelda

In the past two weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the Legend of Zelda, one of Nintendo's most successful video game franchises. Nintendo has successfully duplicated its formula throughout the evolution of its systems, and the concept has introduced many now-familiar motifs into not only the video gaming world, but also the general pop cultural consciousness, despite the fact that Zelda's only other forays into the entertainment world have been manga, a memorable theme, an amusing but cheesy cartoon in the late 1980s, and streaming sitcom called The Legend of Neil (which I just discovered today). An aside: I'm not sure why no one has made (or even seemingly considered) transposing Zelda into a film medium; perhaps the costs are too prohibitive, or the general lack of success in translating video games into movies has discouraged producers, but it sure seems like it would be a sure thing. I have been reminiscing about the series lately, primarily because there is a new game for the DS (Spirit Tracks), as well as the fact that I have been playing through Minish Cap (a 2004 GBA entry). It is perhaps my favourite video game series, and I have not played a Zelda game I have not enjoyed. (I thought about trying to rank them, but I think it would be a fruitless pursuit - they're all so good!) I have a lot of good memories associated with playing Zelda games. I remember playing the original NES game with my dad as a young child (7-8 years old); I still have the maps that we graphed out as we looked through the dungeons. I remember playing Link to the Past for the first time, and spending months trying to discover all of its secrets while I was in elementary school. I remember that the first time my parents left me alone at home for the weekend that I went to a video store, rented the then brand-new Ocarina of Time, played it for something like 50 hours in a 2.5 day span, and still only got 1/3 of the way through the game. I remember being continually frustrated by Majora's Mask, the only title I have not finished within a month or two of starting; maybe that will be a project over the holidays. I remember finally buying a Gamecube on my internship in 2006 and playing through Wind Waker and Four Swords Adventures on weekends when I couldn't really think but had to do something. And I remember replaying most of these games repeatedly; it is surprising how much fun it is to go through these games again, even when I knew what to do and what would happen. I guess there is some joy in simply experiencing the games, whether for the first or fifth time. Zelda is like chili; it might not taste exactly the same each time, but you know it's going to be good. And yes, I'm a big dork.

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