Please help me…
Reading those lines for many Super Nintendo gamers instantly brings forth a flood of memories. Almost as if lightning flashes in front of your eyes, you see Link laying in his bed as his uncle ventures forth into the night towards his impending doom. You didn’t know what was in store for you but you knew it would be something that you had never experienced before.
Zelda: A Link to the Past was released in November of 1991. For those of you unfamiliar with my age, that places me at the ripe old age of nine. At the age of nine a game like Zelda can seem like a daunting task. As I have said in previous articles, I received this game along with my SNES on Christmas of 1991. Like most kids my age I had my father hook up the new system to our TV and instantly put Super Mario in. I was so excited for Mario because this was the day and age where you could go to Wal-Mart, which had the kiosks in their Electronics section with console and it allowed you to play every bit of Super Mario World. Every time my mother took us to Wal-Mart it was a straight run to the electronic section to play Super Mario. I had no idea what Zelda was and I assumed my parents had picked it out because it was one of the few choices of games they had. So I innocently tossed Zelda to the side and played Super Mario and Super R-Type. It wasn’t until I had a sick day at school when I decided to put that mysterious Zelda cartridge in and turn it on.
Link you must not let the land of Hyrule fall…
I was hooked, I mean I couldn’t believe that this game had sat on my shelf for months while I played all that Mario and Super R-Type. I needed to rescue this Princess, I needed to stop the Wizard from destroying the seals and crushing Hyrule under his rule. I was going to protect those three pendants with my life, recover the master sword and destroy the Wizard and save Hyrule. And so, I was off. Off to the temple in the east to recover my first pendant. I was amazed at how the dungeons made me want to go through them. How it taught me that I needed to grab the map and master key before I could finish and that each dungeon would have a special weapon that would help me move along easier in the game but to also conquer the dungeon I recovered it in. Back in 1991 it took this nine-year-old days to get through those first three dungeons, today I can accomplish the same task in hours. I still remember the day I did it, I had recovered all the pendants and I could now go get the Master Sword and kill the Wizard, thus saving the land. I quickly rushed to the Lost Forest and got the sword, in a scene that still is inspiring to me this day and then…
Zelda was in danger and like a good hero I rushed to her aid. When I got there, I saw the priest dying and him telling me how the Wizard had taken Zelda to the castle, to break the seals, enter the golden land and take the Triforce. Remember, I am nine years old and this is the greatest adventure I have ever been a part of so I did what needed to be done. I rushed to the castle to rescue my princess and after fighting soldiers through the castle and up to the top tower I had finally done it. I got there just a second too late, as the Wizard cast his spell on Zelda she disappeared and he proclaimed the seals broken! I couldn’t believe it but yes, a fight, I could still fight the Wizard. All hope wasn’t lost yet, I could defeat the Wizard and save Zelda, save Hyrule. It got tricky here, as it took my nine-year-old self a few tries to figure out the mechanics of the fight but I did it and the Wizard was defeated. Defeated, I had beat this game that sat on my shelf for months in a matter of around three weeks. I felt accomplishment, but what is this? The seals are broken? The Wizard wasn’t my main enemy! To me, at nine, this was a huge twist. I thought I had beaten the game and saved the kingdom but this game isn’t over, no this is just the start.
Zelda: A Link to the Past is a game I still play to this day. Usually once a year and for those wondering, yes, I did beat it when I was 10. For a game, I can now beat in a matter of hours it took me almost a year to complete it. Once I had completed it I started over right away as I wanted to experience it once again. In a day and age where we expect games to be 20 to 40 hours, Zelda came in a time where games took hours to beat, not days. Yes, you can speed run the game today but back in 1991 it was something we hadn’t seen before. Link to the Past is still widely considered the best Zelda game that has ever been made. For me it is a close tie between Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. For young gamers who are wondering if these games still hold up today I would say, Yes! If you are ever in a store and see a Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64 for purchase and Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time is available, pick them up. Owning the systems for just those two games is worth it. Both games defined their console’s generation and you would be hard pressed to find any gamer of the era who owned these systems that didn’t own Zelda. One must remember that Ocarina of Time was so anticipated that Nintendo released a limited-edition gold cartridge edition of the game that resold on eBay for hundreds of dollars. To this day, you can find boxed versions of the gold carriage for over 200 dollars.
Zelda: A Link to the Past is the standard bearer for all adventure games as there are many “Zelda Clones” but very few can match up. On a recent episode of the NES Bros, Jordan said “Do Nintendo Games even fall under a genre? I think it’s just a Nintendo genre.” I think he is right, Nintendo has done a fantastic job of creating their own genres and that is how fans are drawn in. Nintendo gives their fans something they have never experienced before and Zelda is the pinnacle of that. If you have never played Zelda: A Link to the Past please help yourself and play it, no experience it.
Casey Hight lives in South Dakota with his wife, Aneliese, and four children. He currently works as FedEx as a driver and moon lights as a manager at a bowling alley. He writes the openings for the XOne Bro's Podcast and can be found on twitter at @XoneSilence42 and XBox Live at Silence42.