The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Pub & Dev: Nintendo | March 3, 2017
Publisher & Developer: Nintendo | March 3, 2017

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of the Nintendo Switch. Of course, that also means it’s the 2 year anniversary for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Released on launch day alongside the brand new Nintendo Switch, players were thrust once more in the shoes of Link and embarked on an incredible and breathtaking journey. This also marks the first Switch game review on RVGFanatic, and I can’t think of a better time than the 2 year anniversary or a better game to kick things off with than Breath of the Wild. Stunning in sheer scope and majestic in motion, there’s a reason why this game has made such a lasting impression and is considered by many to be one of the finest Switch games made so far, if not THE best.

SWITCHED: HOW NINTENDO WON ME BACK

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The Switch marked my first system purchase in nearly 12 years. Prior to that, I’d been perfectly content rocking it out with the SNES. But the trailer for Breath of the Wild dropped in January 2017 and for the first time in eons I found myself drooling over a new video game. However, the Switch’s launch came and went in March 2017 and I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Maybe I don’t need it after all…

Fate stepped in when my brother bought a copy over Black Friday for just $29 on Walmart’s website due to a system error. Walmart quickly realized its mistake but had to honor the lucky folks who jumped over the deal before it could be fixed. My brother didn’t own a Switch but he figured it was too good a deal to pass up on and that he could always mail it to our cousin, who is a huge video gamer.

Oops. Thanks Walmart!
Oops. Thanks Walmart!

As luck would have it, my cousin — being a huge Zelda fan — already had it. With my brother willing to gift me Breath of the Wild as an early Christmas present, I rushed out to Target on Saturday, December 2, 2017. I walked out with the last Switch system, cradling it close to my chest as though it were the last piece of meat on earth. It was the first system purchase I made in nearly 12 years. Later that night I fired up Breath of the Wild and fell in love with the land of Hyrule all over again. The following is a visual documentation and stroll down memory lane of that epic adventure that ran me over 200 hours over the course of 6 blissful months.

Hyrule is the kind of place that just sticks with you
Hyrule is the kind of place that just sticks with you

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

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Link awakens after a long slumber in this weird chamber of sorts. Navigate your way around and then venture forth in the opening there to the great unknown. Much like previous Zelda classics, a palpable sense of ADVENTURE permeates throughout Breath of the Wild.

So freaking majestic
So freaking majestic
Nintendo magic at its best
Nintendo magic at its best
I love how it shifts from day to night
I love how it shifts from day to night
Shooting stars and all!
Shooting stars and all!

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It’s hard to describe the first few hours of this game and do it justice. It’s a discovery of autonomy and endless options. You just know you’re embarking on this grand scale adventure and that you’re barely scraping the surface. Night falls and it feels like you’re right there with Link lurking in the wooded areas. Best of all, thanks to the Switch’s versatility, you can play this on your giant screen HD TV or play it in portable mode in the comfort of your own bed.

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It’s fun just playing around with the camera and admiring the sights that surround you. This shot here reminds me of all the long summer evenings of my childhood sprawled out in my backyard looking up at the starry sky while listening to my uncle weave spooky stories of the macabre.

Watch the shadows...
One second Link is out of the shadows…
Its the small stuff that makes me smile
And the next he’s engulfed by them

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Up ahead looms a quaint cabin. You wonder if the owner is home… hell, is the owner even a friendly fella? It’s awfully cold out though, and a little shelter does sound nice right about now… maybe we’ll take our chances…

To cross the chasm you must chop away
To cross the chasm you must chop away
Nice!
Those Bokoblins are gonna pay now!
Breath of Fire flashbacks in Breath of the Wild :)
Breath of Fire flashbacks in Breath of the Wild :)
Hmm, who is that old man...
Hmm, who is that old man…
Gather the items you wish to cook
Gather the items you wish to cook
Heat it up and ta-da!
Heat it up and ta-da! Try experimenting…

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A seamless and free flowing sandbox world means you can easily get lost in a number of side tasks for as long (or little) as you wish. On my way to discover the next shrine, I often found myself distracted by random things such as unearthing Korok seeds, interacting with locals or destroying the latest nest of Bokoblins to unlock treasure chests. Spotting a new shrine in the not too far distance always made me cheer silently in my seat (or, as it was in most cases, laying down in bed).

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Upgrading your inventory is not only rewarding, it’s necessary. Since weapons break with usage, you’re in a constant scramble to restock. Going from wooden shields and weak weapons to fancy metal ones and spears is a tangible surge in both ability and confidence. Also, reaching new areas of Hyrule never failed to satisfy as you survey the gorgeous sights that lay before you.

Under siege is Hyrule...
Under siege is Hyrule…
Kakariko Village never looked better
Kakariko Village never looked better
It's a reunion with Impa!
It’s a reunion with Impa!
This becomes the crux of the game
This becomes the crux of the game
The Hinox is a hideous monstrosity
The Hinox is a hideous hulking menace
And a battle that could take all night long!
And a battle that could take all night long!
Some locals are less inviting than others
Some of the locals are less inviting than others
Humor abounds here and there. Love the breath effect
Humor abounds here and there. Love the breath effect

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A crackling fire nearby keeps Link warm as he gazes at the volcano that looms ominously over the horizon. He knows deep down that at some point in his quest he must cross that waterfall and confront the vicious volcano head on.

Even the kids have a little bite to them!
SHADDAP, ASS-TER!  [Real mature -Ed.]
Sketchy AF
Sketchy AF
O_o
O_o

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Impa with the save
Impa with the save
What an amusing exchange :)
What an amusing exchange that all was :)
BEEDLEMANIA! This guy needs a prequel spin-off
BEEDLEMANIA!  This guy needs a prequel spin-off
Well said, Sags
Well said, Sags
Finding this bevy of swords early on was a godsend
Finding this bevy of swords early on was a godsend
Collect and tame horses for faster travel
Collect and tame horses for faster travel
Some travelers aren't always as they seem...
Some travelers aren’t always as they seem…
Nothing like hang gliding while it's raining :D
Nothing like paragliding while it’s raining :D
Collect 4 orbs to add a heart or stamina upgrade
Collect 4 orbs to add a heart or stamina upgrade
Some wild sights indeed!
Some wild sights indeed!
What a downpour
What a downpour
Oh shit! Watch it, Link
Oh shit! Watch it, Link. Put away the metal…
Roscoe > Wilson
Roscoe > Wilson
Can you unearth all 900 (!) Korok seeds?
Can you unearth all 900 (!) Korok seeds?
Awe-inspiring
Awe-inspiring
Great Fairy Fountains can upgrade your goods
Visit Great Fairy Fountains to upgrade your goods
Gaining access to remote bombs is a game changer
Gaining access to remote bombs is a game changer
Sometimes it's not fair :P
Sometimes it’s just not fair :P
Have fun with your new toy
Have fun with your new toy
Link the Peeping Tom creeper
Link the Peeping Tom creeper
Speaking of creepers... I kid, I kid [Sure you are -Ed.]
Speaking of creepers… I kid, I kid [Sure you are -Ed.]
Solving the puzzle to unlock the exit is a great feeling
Solving the puzzle to unlock the exit is a great feeling

Shrines were a point of contention among some players. Traditional Zelda games featured dungeons with plenty of monsters and a few puzzles thrown in for good measure. Breath of the Wild, however, has few dungeons. Instead we got shrines, designated areas consisting mainly of puzzles with scant enemies. Thanks to his Sheikah Slate, Link can call upon one of several Rune skills. For instance, Magnesis allows Link to lift and carry metallic objects using magnetic energy.

Simply gorgeous
Nothing like a moonlit night on a sandy beach
Better not land on him and disrupt his slumber!
Better not land on him and disrupt his slumber!
Arrow play felt so satisfying. Check the rainbow
Arrow play felt so satisfying. Check the rainbow!
Some poignant messages abound
Some poignant messages abound
Profound. I like adjusting the camera for fun angles
Profound. I like adjusting the camera for fun angles
You damn right
You damn right
Element based enemies can prove to be tricky
Element based enemies can prove to be tricky
Such a badass Link is. Looks like a summer blockbuster
Link doesn’t even bother looking back. Badass
Experiment with the Runes to see which one you need
Experiment with the Runes to see which one you need
In the distance you spot a Tower that needs unlocking
In the distance you spot a Tower that needs unlocking
Done!
Done! Now you can fast teleport to this new location
Arrows come in 5 forms: these, bomb, fire, ice, shock
Arrows come in 5 forms: these, bomb, fire, ice, shock
WATCH YO MOUTH!
WATCH YO MOUTH!
Oh Beedle...
Oh Beedle…
Stamina > Heart
Stamina > Heart
Adding to your Stamina Wheel is key in exploring
Adding to your Stamina Wheel is key in exploring
Crystallized rocks contain goodies
Crystallized rocks contain goodies. Ooh, shrine!
Magnesis rocks
Eat your heart out, Magneto
Some dungeons automatically give you an Orb
Some shrines automatically bless you with an orb

These are always nice. Some shrines are harder to find than others. For certain ones, just finding them is considered good enough for an automatic orb. No puzzles inside. Hey, I’ll take it!

Unlock Link's memories...
Unlock Link’s memories by visiting certain sites
I hesitate to look at what he's looking at...
I hesitate to look at what he’s looking at…

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Eerie and dramatic, the Blood Moon is an occasional event that occurs in the world of Hyrule. By the red glow of the Blood Moon, slain enemies respawn. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that creepy music as a crimson red consumed the screen and ashes rose into the blood soaked sky.

Some shrines are hidden below the surface
Some shrines are hidden below the surface
It's just too bad they didn't have more enemies inside
It’s just too bad they didn’t have more enemies inside
Increase your Stamina Wheel to reach new heights
Increase your Stamina Wheel to reach new heights
Your Sheikah Slate beeps louder the closer you get
Your Sheikah Slate beeps louder the closer you get
Nothing like finally coming face to face with a shrine
Nothing like finally coming face to face with a shrine
Whoa!
Whoa!
My bad, yo. Been so busy that I forgot to feed him
My bad, yo. Been so busy that I forgot to feed him
Where's Godzilla when you need him eh?
Where’s Godzilla when you need him eh?
Blowing up a nest of enemies is simply the best
Blowing up a nest of enemies is simply the best
Link's no stranger to that!
Link’s no stranger to that!
Nor is he a stranger to this [Wait what?! -Link]
Nor is he a stranger to this [Wait what?! -Link]
Dress up like a lady to sneak past the guards
Dress up like a lady to sneak past the guards
This was... a very memorable main quest
This was… a very memorable main quest
I see they haven't upgraded to a white board yet, tsk tsk
I see they haven’t upgraded to a white board yet, tsk tsk
Eavesdrop on the locals and don't blow your cover
Eavesdrop on the locals and don’t blow your cover
Enough BS. Time to pull out the Master Sword
Need at least 13 hearts to yank out the Master Sword
As always, what a grand moment
OH SHIT
YOU GOT THE TOUCH -- YOU GOT THE POWER -- YEAH!
YOU GOT THE TOUCH — YOU GOT THE POWER — YEAH!
So majestic
Good to see you again, dear old friend
Good to see you again, dear old friend
Just the weapon needed to end the Calamity
These creepy eyes can be taken out with arrow shots
These creepy eyes can be taken out with arrow shots
Always a welcomed sight
Always a welcomed sight
Blood Moon strikes again
Blood Moon strikes again
Hey pal...
Hey pal…
WAKEY WAKEY!
WAKEY WAKEY!
Such a gorgeous sunrise
Such a gorgeous sunrise
Lens flare effect and all
Lens flare effect and all
Yeah, I wouldn't pet that...
Yeah, I wouldn’t pet that…
Looks like Robbie wants to go to WrestleMania!
Looks like Robbie wants to go to WrestleMania!
Just like "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey
Just like “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
Even Link is dressed like a wrestler
Even Link is dressed like a wrestler
*Pointing intensifies*
*Pointing intensifies*
Sure am glad he's a friend and not a foe!
Sure am glad he’s a friend and not a foe!
Cool headgear, but what's in that huge weird building?
Cool headgear, but what’s in that huge weird building?
Yes, you can ride bears. Nuff said
Yes, you can ride bears. Nuff said
When you realize you forgot to close your garage door
When you realize you forgot to close your garage door
Take drastic measures to reach certain shrines
Some shrines require some thinking to reach
No trolls here but you might find some treasure
No trolls here but you might find some treasure
On your last heart -- yikes!
On your last heart — yikes!
Love gaining new goodies at the end of a shrine
Love gaining new goodies at the end of a shrine
Follow that fallen shooting star before it fades out
Follow that fallen shooting star before it fades out
Spooky
Spooky
Gotta play this one in the dark
Gotta play this one in the dark
Seth Rollins would be proud: BURN IT DOWN!
Seth Rollins would be proud: BURN IT DOWN!
How philosophical
How philosophical
I know the feeling...
I know the feeling…
What a babe
What a babe
When you realize your GF's pill didn't do its job
When you realize your girlfriend’s pill didn’t work
The bosses, admittedly, left something to be desired
The bosses, admittedly, left something to be desired
They felt a bit generic to me unlike past Zelda games
They felt a bit generic to me unlike past Zelda games
It's a small gripe though. Lovely explosions
But it’s a small gripe. Lovely death scenes though
"For he's a jolly good fellow..."
“FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW…”
The white ones are the toughest and a bitch to kill
The white ones are the toughest and a bitch to kill
Another shady traveler...
Another shady traveler…
Time to put the focus on Link's heart containers
Time to put the focus on Link’s heart containers
Sweet 16
Sweet 16
Where's Kevin Bacon ah screw it, we got Link!
Where’s Kevin Bacon ah screw it, we got Link!
Taming bears never got old for me
Taming bears never got old for me
Most hated enemy. Line that sucker up!
Most hated enemy. Line that sucker up!
No lie, I actually trembled a bit when I first saw this
No lie, I actually trembled a bit when I first saw this
A sight for sore eyes
A sight for sore eyes
Don't get fried!
Don’t get fried!
It maxes out at 30 hearts
Link maxes out at 30 hearts

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Like frying an egg on the sidewalk on a scorching hot day, in Breath of the Wild you can drop meat on a frosty surface and it will become “Icy Gourmet Meat.” The amount of possibilities this game offers the player is mind-blowing. Many times I thought to myself, “This might work” and sure enough, it did. Ingenuity is off the charts here, rewarding creativity and experimentation.

Like a scene out of an epic summer blockbuster
Like a scene out of an epic summer blockbuster
Shit got real
Shit got real
I like how they call all the Divine bosses the Scourge
I like how they call all the Divine bosses the Scourge
I just wish their base designs offered more variety
I just wish their base designs offered more variety
Free the final Divine Beast and it's game on!
Free the final Divine Beast and it’s game on!
Special gear is required to traverse the hotter sections
Special gear is required to traverse the hotter sections
Epic!
Blowing up a nest in mid-flight is badass!
Just big enough of a crack ;)
Just big enough of a crack ;)
The primal evil who has endured over the ages
The primal evil who has endured over the ages
You can feel the weight of Hyrule on your shoulders
You can feel the weight of Hyrule on your shoulders
You'll need everyone's help to win
You’ll need everyone’s help to win
Now we'll see what you're made of, Ganon!
Now we’ll see what you’re made of, Ganon!
Time to kick the bucket, bitch
Time to say night night
Oh fuck!
Oh fuck!
The Bow of Light will combat the Darkness
The Bow of Light will combat the Darkness
Almost there!
Almost there!
BOO-YAH!!!!
BOO-YAH!!!!

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The Evil is gone... for now
The Evil is gone… for now
Link and Zelda reside over a peaceful Hyrule... for now
Link and Zelda reside over a peaceful Hyrule… for now

INTO THE WILD

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I’ve been playing video games for over 30 years now. I can honestly say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the longest single player campaign of my life. It provided me with over 210 hours of blissful entertainment. It was an insane 6 month experience… one I’ll never forget and forever cherish as one of the finest playthroughs of my gaming career.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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What can I add that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over in the last 2 years since Breath of the Wild came out? It stands out as one of the most immersive and engaging single player adventures I’ve ever played. Part of me wishes I could wipe out my memories of this game so I can experience it for the first time again. The sheer scope and scale of Link’s open world quest empowers you to forge your own path. Multiple routes and multiple possibilities lay before you, truly giving the player full autonomy and power. There are so many memorable moments, such as the first time you run into the Hinox monster.

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Or the first time you pierce one of the explosive barrels to blow up a nest of Bokoblins… running away and seeing the fiery explosion go off behind you in summer blockbuster fashion. Hyrule is a living and breathing world full of fascinating creatures, vicious monsters and helpful (as well as odd) locals to interact with. While not everyone appreciates this open world approach, I sure did. Of course I harbor fond memories of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past but I applaud Nintendo for taking Breath of the Wild in a radically different direction that reflects the ever growing evolution of video gaming as we know it today. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always return to the classics. But for the most part, there’s a reason why so many have fallen in love with Breath of the Wild. It’s a Zelda game like never before.

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2 years have passed since the Switch and Breath of the Wild came out and thrilled gaming audiences around the globe. While the game has a few areas I could nitpick, such as the lack of “proper” dungeons and the 4 Divine Beast bosses looking too similar and somewhat generic, Breath of the Wild is an incredible adventure worth taking on. It’s an instant classic that will go down in the annals of gaming lore as one of the best adventures of all time. Lovingly crafted and fine tuned, Breath of the Wild is Nintendo’s signature stamp on the Switch that has set the bar for all others to come. I look forward to seeing if any game can match or surpass it. What a time to be alive :)

OVERALL: 10

Tina Turner sang it best:  You're simply the best! Better than ALLLLL the rest. Better than anyone I've ever met
Tina Turner sang it best: YOU’RE SIMPLY THE BEST!
Even better than Super Mario Odyssey? Well...
Even better than Super Mario Odyssey? Well…

Gunman’s Proof (SNES)

Gunman's Proof packs a mighty punch
Pub: ASCII | Dev: Lenar | January 1997 | 24 MEGS

By 1997 the SNES was a long afterthought. The 32-bit era had taken over and most gamers had already jumped ship. Yet this didn’t stop Lenar, a company not known for its epic titles, from crafting one last great Super Nintendo game. Gunman’s Proof is a fast-paced, quirky action RPG that’s loaded with charm, humor, AND personality. So strap on your cowboy boots and throw on your 10 gallon hat — we’re off to the Wild West! As a PSYcho once sang… OPPA GUNMAN STYLE!

Gunman's Proof is a blend of this
Gunman’s Proof is a blend of this
And this!
And this!
Best Western SNES game. Sorry, Sunset Riders and Wild Guns
And for good measure throw in the old west, too!

THE STORY GOES…

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Strange World but also very fun
Strange World but also very fun

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But more on this later...
But more on this later…

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The peculiar Colobutch character will talk your ear off all night...
The peculiar Colobutch will talk your ear off all night…

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“A ghost IS blocking my path… how ‘cha know?”

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Maybe I could turn these lyrics into a top 40 song...
Maybe I could turn these lyrics into a top 40 song…
DAMN RIGHT I DO
DAMN RIGHT I DO

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Like a drifter I was born to walk alone. An' I've made up my mind
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

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[I C WAT U DID DERE. I'm bustin' a rib laughing over here... -Ed.]
[I C WAT U DID DERE. I’m bustin’ a rib over here… -Ed.]
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Eat your heart out, Thomas Wolfe. HA, you CAN go home again!
Eat it, Thomas Wolfe. You CAN go home again
OK... perhaps Mr. Wolfe had a point after all... who am I to judge
Perhaps Mr. Wolfe had a point after all…

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"AHHHHHHHHH!"
“AHHHHHHHHH!”
So very embarrassing
So very embarrassing

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Was it a homage from Lenar? I like to think so
Was it a homage from Lenar? I like to think so

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Sorry Garo. I haven't uhh, fully mastered the boy yet
“Sorry. I haven’t uhh, fully mastered the boy yet…”

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Robaton was Donkey long before Donkey was Donkey
Robaton was Donkey long before Donkey was Donkey

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"Sumthin queer about him... like he's possessed..."
“Sumthin’ queer about him… like he’s possessed…”
Love especially the bazooka and burner gun
Love especially the bazooka and burner gun

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Robaton's music is catchy as all hell
Robaton’s music is catchy as all hell

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Love the Dragon Punch. Link never had anything like this!
<3 the Dragon Punch. Link never had anything like this!
New skills learned opens up previously inaccessible areas
New skills learned opens up previously closed areas
A little Castlevania fare here
A little Castlevania fare here
All of the dungeons have a simple but enticing look to 'em
All of the dungeons have a simple but enticing look
It's not as puzzle oriented as Link to the Past, though
It’s not as puzzle oriented as Link to the Past, though
I love the decal preview showcasing the big bad bosses
I love the decal preview showcasing the big bad bosses
The dungeons never overwhelm
The dungeons never get too overwhelming
There's a smoothness to it that makes it really fun
There’s a smoothness to it that makes it very fun
Resident Evil deja vu, anyone?
Resident Evil deja vu, anyone?
A haunted house complete with windows blowing open
The windows blow open here. Love the little details
Bazooka cannon is BADASS
Bazooka cannon is BADASS
Brings back memories of Short Round and Indy
Brings back memories of Short Round and Indy
Tenkai, Gantetsu's brother, helps you learn new skills
Tenkai, Gantetsu’s brother, helps you learn new skills
The Burner Gun says you better get the hell outta the way
My burner gun says you best get the hell out the way
Hmm, why does this seem so familiar? *rubs chin*
Hmm, why does this seem so familiar? *rubs chin*
Ah yes, the Pond of Happiness
Ah yes, the Pond of Happiness
Hook, line and sinker
Hook, line and sinker
"I am. Traded in my bat for a gun and my cap for a 10 gallon hat"
“Traded in my bat for a gun. My cap for a 10 gallon hat”
Gunman's Proof never takes itself TOO seriously
Gunman’s Proof never takes itself TOO seriously
WHO YA GONNA CALL?
WHO YA GONNA CALL?
Sadly it can be beaten in around four hours
Sadly it can be beaten in around four hours
To save, use the bed in his house back in Bronco Village
To save, use his bed back in Bronco Village

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God bless English fan translations
God bless English fan translations
Why Peggy, I think you nailed it. Super indeed
Why Peggy, I think you nailed it. Super indeed

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Loaded with humor, charm and firearms, this game rocks
This game is loaded with humor, charm and firearms

1880. A pair of streaking meteors befalls Strange Island. This unleashed a horde of terrible monsters. In hot pursuit of these vile Demiseed creatures were a couple of space sheriffs. Meanwhile, a young boy, often castigated by his very own father, yearns for something bigger. Hungry for adventure, fate steps in when this young boy and two cosmic space sheriffs cross paths. This is where our peculiar story begins. Along the way you’ll earn the respect of your old man, gain powerful skills from an eclectic group of island ragtags, and blast the holy hell out of various baddies while exploring a haunted house, dungeons, mines and more. It’s over way too soon but it’s one memorable and fun-filled ride while it lasts. It’s one of the best “hidden gems” on the Super Nintendo and it makes me wanna shout, OPPA GUNMAN STYLE!

An amazing game that still flies under the radar
An amazing game that still flies under the radar

From its likable characters to its odd sense of humor, Gunman’s Proof delivers a hellacious trek through the old Wild West. The visuals are bright and vibrant, with decaying dungeons and a unique art style. The music is quite catchy, especially that giddy Robaton theme, but the bulk of the game is blasting hordes of minions to kingdom come utilizing everything from a shotgun to a bazooka cannon. It is one of those games that’s perfect to play after a long day at work. Forget about swords and axes because you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. I do wish however the game were a bit longer but there’s something to be said about its simplicity and the fact that you can beat it in one (four hour) sitting. Gunman’s Proof is one of the best SNES games you’ve probably yet to play… and I highly suggest you go rectify this. Strafing and incinerating bad guys never felt so good. If you’re looking for a quirky and fun action RPG, then be sure to check out Gunman’s Proof. Like the last cowboy riding out of town at dusk, it just might be the last great Super Nintendo game ever made.

'NUFF SAID!

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 8

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award

 

Lagoon (SNES)

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water...
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water…

There’s something special about the earliest SNES titles. That first wave of first generation games… games in which developers dipped their toes into 16-bit water for the very first time. Looking back at those early games is very nostalgic for me, as I remember the time well. The 8-bit NES was still alive and kicking in late 1991, and the SNES was just beginning its run here in the US. It was an interesting time of playing your dear old favorite NES while slowly exploring what the SNES could do. One of the earliest titles on the SNES was an action RPG by the name of Lagoon. Developed by Zoom and published by Kemco, Lagoon hit the 16-bit market in December of 1991. Now the last SNES game I reviewed was the epochal Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Gamers in America didn’t get that one until April 1992. So, we had to make do with Lagoon, which was the first ARPG on the SNES North American market. And it came with mostly negative reviews, although there is a small camp of Lagoon backers. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind to the beginning…

THE YEAR WAS 1991

The ad left a lasting impression on my eight-year-old being!
The ad left a lasting impression on my eight-year-old eyes!

At this point in time I wasn’t one for ARPGs or RPGs in general. Those genres were never my thing. My older brother enjoyed them, but I wanted more “immediate gratification.” I didn’t stray far from my platformers and beat ‘em ups. But upon seeing this ad in late 1991 in a GamePro Magazine, I actually wanted to play an action RPG for the first time in my life. I remember being drawn in by the various grotesque looking creatures and demons. The two in-game shots blew my eight-year-old mind. The green orbs seemed to bounce around in my mind and the ghoulish boss on the right was the stuff nightmares are made of. I was instantly intrigued. But of course, Lagoon became like about 300 other SNES games from my youth. As many titles as I played from 1991-1995 or so, there were so many more I always wanted to try out but never did.

One of the best things about this hobby is the ability to finally play all those games you were curious about from your youth. Even though Lagoon has a less than stellar reputation within the retro gaming community, I was still curious to check it out for myself. After all, you never know for sure how you feel about a game until you’ve played it yourself.

THE STORY GOES…

Lakeland. A peaceful kingdom, but not for long…
Two youths looking on in distress
Two youths looking on in distress
Who’s this geezer and what does he want?
A grand scrolling shot of the castle
A grand scrolling shot of the castle
Go Link, er, Nasir!
Go Link, er, Nasir!
One positive most can agree on: the music!
There’s something about first gen SNES titles
Off you go to solve the mystery
Off you go to solve the mystery

THE GAME

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Players start out in Atland. Gather some clues from the locals to figure out what’s next on the agenda. It’s very simple stuff, and an ideal ARPG for novices.

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An interesting aspect of Lagoon is how unlike many other games of the genre, when you enter a building here you don’t necessarily enter it. In most cases, there is no interior. You just get this type of scene. At first it was a little jarring, and I felt like I was getting robbed. This element gives off a vibe of low budget, but after a while I came to appreciate it. One could view this low budget move as a time saver and the game getting down to the nitty gritty. I came to actually not mind it, which isn’t a great compliment, but for this game and its world, it somehow works.

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The shop system is very straight forward and things never get too cluttered.

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Equipping weapons and armor is as easy as 1-2-3.

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Eventually you find your way to the Mayor’s house where he sheds some light to you. Which is ironic considering you’re the Champion of LIGHT, but I digress. Hey, we all need help on the journey of life (and saving kingdoms, of course). After a bit of chit-chat you realize that Giles is in trouble. His parents named him Giles after having nine months to think about it.

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I know, they had nine months to think of a name and…

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What’s up with demons and caves, anyway? Well, it’s a good thing we’re armed with a sword that would make Link and the Master Sword proud…

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Wait a second! Er, what the HELL is that? Yes, one of the biggest complaints about Lagoon is the incredibly pathetic butter knife you wield. Some sword, huh?

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Expect to see this a lot early on. You’ll try to swipe at the enemy, but instead it’ll miss and you’ll end up eating damage. It’s easy to stop here and say, “Man this game blows!” But stick with it a while and realize the trick is not to go on the offensive but rather, wait back and let them come to you.

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Once you do that, Lagoon becomes playable and actually somewhat enjoyable. Sure it’s a gameplay flaw, but nobody ever said this game was perfect. It’s just a different type of combat than what most folks are used to.

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If you can put up with the short length of Nasir’s “sword,” then Lagoon isn’t a bad game. The dungeons never get too big and confusing, and the game is a pretty simple straight forward ARPG.

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One of the best aspects about Lagoon is the ability to save the game anywhere. This makes it an ideal game to play for 15, 20 minutes right before bed. Before you know it, you will have beaten it. Not like it’s a long adventure to begin with, either.

Check out the level up system
Check out the level up system
TA-DA!
TA-DA!

It’s fun to keep an eye on your status. Leveling up increases all of your stats, and there’s a certain satisfaction in watching your character grow stronger by the step. In addition, if you’ve taken damage, simply stand still and Nasir will automatically recover. It’s a pretty cool feature that makes Lagoon that much easier to beat. His magic points will also recover in a resting state. Give it a chance and pretty soon you’ll be hitting a sweet little rhythm of waiting for enemies to run into your sword, resting if need be, checking your status on occasion and repeat. I found it oddly addicting.

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Tougher enemies soon appear, giving you more experience points when killed. There’s a definite simplicity to Lagoon that I appreciate.

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The best part of Lagoon is hands down the music. It’s the one aspect of this game that is almost always universally praised. It’s funny… in that sense it reminds me a lot of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. Both games have a poor reputation but it’s generally agreed upon that the soundtrack rocks. Although Mystic Quest has a slightly better reputation than Lagoon and is the better, more redeeming game.

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While the game is far from great, there IS a certain sense of satisfaction roaming the dungeons, killing the monsters, and rocking out to the awesome soundtrack.

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Ah, it’s nice to see the sky and smell the air again after being in that dank, decrepit dungeon. Go on to find Giles.

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I hope you found the Healing Pot prior. Otherwise you’ll have to do some backtracking and that’s never too fun.

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After rescuing Giles, you’re not done yet. You have to guide him back to Atland. This son of a bitch moves like a grandma. If you go too fast he might get confused and lost, so always keep him in the line of sight.

Lagoon (U) [!]_00050

Ah! Move it, you bastard! Thankfully, Giles can’t be hurt even if the enemies touch him. Weird. You would think then that he wouldn’t need you to save him. Shoot, if I were invincible too, the things I could do! Freaking Giles. This must be a rib or something.

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Yes, I’m interested in acquiring Little Samson for the NES. And yes, I know it’s a DEMON of a game on the ol’ wallet. Thanks for nothing, old lady!

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Now you can open the gateway to access Samson, the game’s first boss.

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Shoot, I’m not surprised. With all the crazy dollars that collectors are throwing at Samson these days, one would think he got a little too big-headed for his own good!

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Oh shit. You mean, you’re not Little Samson, as in the NES game? Heh, my bad. I’ll just head back out and close the door. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, big red scary guy…

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Yeah, that’s just not a fair fight. God damn it… this is all messed up.

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Samson sheds his helmet once he’s weakened up some. And it’s not a pretty sight, folks. In fact, I dare call it an eyesore…

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Once conquered, Samson screams like an elephant, oddly enough. You get some fancy little explosion pixels going off all over him.

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For your troubles you get your very first magic spell: the Fire Crystal.

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This allows you to shoot fireballs, giving you a much welcomed long range attack. It eats up magic points but as I stated earlier, your MP recovers in a resting state. It definitely helps to flesh out the gameplay of Lagoon, making the pathetic short sword less annoying.

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Hey wait a damn second here… where have I seen you before…

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So you’re telling me there is a Princess, and she was kidnapped. Riiiight…

Lagoon (U) [!]_00075

After Atland you head to the town of Voloh. Here you’ll meet a strange cat by the name of Thor. He’ll enlist your help to find the tablets.

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As you progress in the game it’s fun to see the length of your energy bar increase as you continually level up.

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There are your typical fire and ice dungeons to navigate and work through. The graphics aren’t anything to write home about, even back in late 1991 when it came out, but they’re alright and serviceable enough.

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One thing I’ve always been a sucker for in video games are the mini-bosses, or the regular bad guys that are bigger and tougher than the rest of the regular bad guys. They look intimidating, but aren’t TOO hard to defeat. And yet they’re always satisfying to kill every single time. Lagoon does a decent job of throwing small, medium and even big monsters your way.

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The bosses were intimidating due to a combination of their size, their menacing sprite work, your puny sword and their massively long health bar. They might be tough at first, but nothing you can’t work around with a little persistence. It’s just a matter of finding their sweet spots. Although it should be noted that during boss battles you can’t heal or use your magic. This could lead to some frustrating moments.

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By the end of the game your health bar should be as long as theirs. Speaking of which, it took me 11 hours to beat Lagoon on my first attempt. It’s a game one could probably beat in under 10 hours (I like to grind here and there). So it’s definitely on the shorter side, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

ExLagoon

The game moves along at a brisk pace, much like Mystic Quest. In that way it never wears out its welcome. It’s an easy title to pick up and play. Saving anywhere is a big bonus, as you can always pace yourself rather than being at the mercy of having to go to an inn to save.

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There are plenty of weird locales to hit up, and some entertaining NPC’s to interact with when you’re not bashing baddies and blowing through dungeons.

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As an aside, I also remember Lagoon for being the first game I played following the Teacher’s Fair in March of 2012. At the time I was teaching part time and acting in a Broadway-esque play. My goal was to become a full time teacher. I gathered my portfolio earlier that morning, put on my best suit and shook hands all day long following a two hour morning rehearsal. It was a memorable time in my life as I was living out my passion (acting) while pursuing my real life goal of becoming a full time teacher. Later that night, with over 500 SNES games from which to choose, I picked Lagoon. The urge to finally quell this longstanding childhood curiosity overcame me at long last. So anytime I think of Lagoon, I’m instantly transported back to that exciting time in my life. And yes, I got a full time position thanks to attending that Teacher’s Fair. I’m still teaching at the same school, going on five years. Man, where does the time go?

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

Lagoon was not well received by the public. Most panned it, calling it a frustrating and boring Zelda clone. Super Play Magazine gave Lagoon a score of 56% when it hit the UK mindbogglingly late in May of 1993. On Youtube there are two excellent video reviews of this game which I highly recommend viewing. One is from The CG Dudes and the other is from Stop Skeletons From Fighting (formerly known as The Happy Video Game Nerd). Both video reviews pretty much sum up my feelings toward this game.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

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Lagoon is far from a hidden gem, but far from a dud as well. A lot of people dislike it, and they’re well within their bounds to do so. However, I feel a lot of the hatred toward this game is due to a lack of understanding rather than anything else, as the game itself is fairly manageable once you get the nuances down and operate within that world. Such qualifiers are signs of a flawed game, sure, but not an entirely wasteful effort. I’ve played plenty worse on the Super Nintendo. Once I understood the mechanics of the game and employed the best strategies, I had a pretty good time making my way through this early first generation SNES title.

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The magic spells really open the game up, and make killing the monsters much easier. I didn’t have to worry about the puny butter knife so much, and shooting various projectiles at enemies across the screen became rather addicting. If you’re looking for something new on your SNES and you’ve already beaten the rest, give Lagoon a chance. It’s a quick action RPG that can hold you over for a week or two. It’s rather flawed, but not without some “first generation charm.”

Graphics: 5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 5
Longevity: 5

Overall: 5.5

Give it a shot if you've overlooked it. It's not so bad...
Give it a shot if you’ve overlooked it. It’s not so bad…

The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past (SNES)

Happy 24th anniversary!
Happy 24th anniversary!

Today, April 13, 2016, marks 24 years since The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past graced the North American gaming world. Widely regarded as one of the best SNES titles around (if not THE best in many circles), it’s also considered one of the best video games of all time, period. When I got back into all things Super Nintendo over 10 years ago, I did so with two main goals in mind. The first was to relive my childhood. And the second? To right the wrongs from my past. In many ways it was the closest thing to having a time machine. There were so many SNES games I wanted to play back in the day but never did. Along with Super Metroid, A Link To The Past was atop my list of games to play and beat. I finally played through Super Metroid and finished it on February 10, 2007. It was ah-mazin’. Looking at my collection for the next game to play, I knew it had to be A Link To The Past. So it was. On February 20, 2007, I began my trek to Hyrule, and what a trek it was…

LEGEND HAS IT…

LTTP2It’s a calm and cool night in Kakariko Village. Just like any other night. On the surface, at least. But dig a little deeper… put your head to the ground… stand entirely still and listen to the howling of the wind… the leaves dancing on the twisted tree branches… something is happening. Something is coming. Nightfall quickly approaches and the stars are out tonight in full force. Suddenly the wind whips the weathercock viciously, the elders cease work on their farms and quickly rush inside to take cover. A loud rumbling can be heard from the far distance, getting closer and closer with each passing second. An ominous banshee-like scream cuts through the night sky like piercing sirens.

The gods above give Link a special message
The gods above give Link a special message

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Link arrives but oh woe is he, for the young lad is too late! The moon completes its destiny, shedding tears of pain all over Hyrule, transforming the landscape of the peaceful villages. People turn into monsters. Crops die. Dogs turn into ducks. And so forth.

And the prophecy is coming true…

WAIT A SECOND!

[You got it all wrong, ya git! -Ed.]

Right. Let’s start at the very beginning… the first Zelda on the NES, then…

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[NO, NO, NO! Let’s try this one more time -Ed.]

Alright, I’m sober now. Let’s do this for real…

The legend begins
The legend begins

Although The Legend of Zelda appeared first in the series of Zelda adventures, it actually takes place many years after the third game. In this time, Hyrule had declined, becoming a rustic land with only a few remaining signs of its earlier glory. The land was overrun, and Ganon was to blame. At the heart of the conflict lay a missing piece of the Triforce and Princess Zelda.

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When Princess Zelda discovered that Ganon had acquired a piece of the Triforce, she broke the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and hid them. She knew a hero was needed to challenge Ganon, so she sent her nurse, Impa, to search the land, even as Zelda herself was captured. During her quest, Impa long evaded Ganon’s reach, but in a forest glade she too fell into his clutches and would have been killed if not for the heroic actions of a passing youth named Link. Once the villains had been driven away, Impa told the young man about Zelda’s secret. Then, unable to hold back her tears, she told him how the Princess had been taken captive.

LTTP12

Link’s heart burned with passion, and he pledged to defeat Ganon and rescue the Princess. He set off at once, knowing only that he had to collect the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom. At every turn in the path he met waves of monsters from Ganon’s unholy army. They challenged him in battle.

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Link’s first task was to find the hidden dungeons where Zelda had secretly hidden the divided Triforce. Many of the entrances were disguised, and only by using all of his wits and the scraps of hints that he picked up along the way was he able to succeed. Inside each dungeon he met countless enemies, for Ganon’s minions had taken hold of even the most remote chambers.

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In the end Link was able to gather all eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, then he scaled Death Mountain and gained entrance to Spectacle Rock. Ganon’s great maze dwarfed any that Link had previously encountered. In a hidden chamber, he discovered a magical Silver Arrow and, taking the prize, he came face-to-face with Ganon himself. The battle between youthful hero and villainous miscreant raged across the chamber, unaffected by the cuts of Link’s sword. As Link began to tire, he tried a last desperate strategy, putting the Silver Arrow to the test. The bowstring sang and the arrow flew straight. Ganon was destroyed!

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With the defeat of Ganon, Link’s mind turned to the purpose that had driven him here — the rescue of Princess Zelda. One final chamber stood before him. Link pushed ahead. Here Zelda greeted him and the pieces of the Triforces of Power and Wisdom were reunited.

A hero's work is truly never done
A hero’s work is truly never done

With the destruction of Ganon and the power of the Triforce restored, peace reigned once more in Hyrule. Princess Zelda now ruled the land, and the country prospered. It seemed as if the shadow of Ganon had been destroyed forever. But Link remained ever vigilant. Wherever Link roamed, he looked for signs of Ganon’s return, for he could not believe that he had truly banished evil from the land.

THE LEGEND CONTINUES

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link takes place several years after The Legend of Zelda. An older, taller and perhaps wiser Link has seen the country prosper. But peace is a fragile commodity in Hyrule and history has a way of repeating itself.

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Marked by the sign on his hand, Link was destined to become a hero. But in the peaceful days following his first quest, he became restless. He combed through the forests, crossed the deserts and delved into the caverns of Hyrule, looking for clues to explain his feelings of unease. In time he became aware of a whisper that passed between the birds, beasts, and even the blades of grass: there was a new magic in the land… a new magic nameless and terrifying.

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Lying as still as a marble, Princess Zelda slept the dreamless sleep of enchantment. When Link found her in the North Palace, he saw at once that she was spellbound. His greatest fear had come to pass. By refusing to reveal the secret power of the Triforce to a wizard, Zelda had brought on her own downfall. But not all was lost. If Link could somehow unlock the mystery of the Great Palace, then he could save Zelda and the Triforce of Courage to boot.

Savage beasts lurked behind every corner
Savage beasts lurked behind every corner

Again Link took to the fields and forests, but these places had become wild and dangerous, inhabited by enemies of old. Link found himself relying on his wits and swordplay at every step. Creatures he had never before seen also waylaid him: spiders called Deelers that dropped from the trees, tall Geldarms that rose from the sands of the Tantari Desert, and of course the Moblins, armed with spears and hatred.

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Link’s mission? Enter each of the six palaces and restore a missing crystal to a statue. Together the statues created a magical lock on the Great Palace. Only by replacing the six crystals could Link open the final door. In each palace, however, he had to battle a Statue Guardian of great strength: Barba the Dragon, Ironknuckle the Knight, Carock the Wizard and many other nasty surprises awaited our youthful hero.

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Link came across many strange looking statues and structures. Some had switches that only the brave, OR the foolish, would pull.

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As he closed the palaces off one by one, Link crossed the whole of Hyrule, from Ruto in the northwest to Death Mountain in the south, from the Island Palace in the Stormy Straights to Maze Island in the Far Eastern Sea. He helped villagers whenever he could, but he never lost sight of his ultimate goal. Finally, after uncovering the secrets of Old Kasuto, Link pushed on to the Great Palace where he met the Thunderbird.

You are your own worst enemy
You are your own worst enemy

Once the Thunderbird was vanquished, Link thought that Zelda and Hyrule would be saved, but it was not to be… not yet. Exhausted from his journey, Link had one more enemy to defeat — an enemy so unexpected that he did not know what to do, for the enemy was his own shadow.

THE LEGEND GROWS

Eat your heart out, King Arthur
Eat your heart out, King Arthur

Back in the mists of time, before the era of The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link, Hyrule was a land of fabulous palaces and magic. It was also a troubled land, and the divisions of Light and Dark were tearing it apart. The origins of this conflict lay even deeper in the shadows of time, with the coming of the Triforce and the greed of Ganondorf, King of Thieves.

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To comprehend Hyrule and Link’s desperate quest, one must first know the ancient legend of the Triforce. In the Golden Land, where it was placed by the creators of the world, the Triforce beckoned to people. Ganon and his band of thieves long searched for the secret entrance to the Golden Land, eventually stumbling upon it. Then Ganon defeated his fellows for possession of the Triforce.

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In a period known as the Imprisoning War, the King of Hyrule brought seven wise men together to seal the door to the Golden Land, for Ganon’s evil power had been spilling forth, causing corruption and darkness. The once peaceful land became a place of dreadful rumors of the coming of a magical enemy. At this time the Master Sword was forged, but there was no hero valiant enough to wield it.

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Before the wise men could seal off the Golden Land and the Triforce, Ganon’s army surged into Hyrule and besieged the castle. The knights of Hyrule fought heroically, but the power of the Triforce controlled their enemies, giving them inhuman strength. The battle raged back and forth. Many foes fell in the tide of battle, but too many knights perished as well. It seemed that they were beyond hope.

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Then, at the end of the day, the wise men finally succeeded in blocking the door to Ganon’s Realm. With the power of their master removed, the enemies fled or threw themselves into the moat. Hyrule was saved and over the years the Golden Land, which then became known as the Dark World, faded from collective memory.

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While the people of Hyrule forgot about the Dark World, the master of that evil land had not. Ganon brooded in his prison, surrounded by reminders of his fall. He grew ever more bitter as the dark years passed like the wailing of cold wind on a winter’s night. Ambition burned in his eyes. He vowed to one day return to power.

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Many centuries passed with Ganon and the Triforce safely locked away. Then the disasters began: plague, drought, quakes and fire. The King sought sage advice and a wizard named Agahnim stepped forth, ending the strange disasters. He became a powerful advisor to the King, but he kept his true plans to himself…

It seemed like a Golden Age, but it wouldn’t last.

“Can anybody out there hear me?”

Once Agahnim had consolidated his power, he began to abuse it. First to fall victim were the ancestors of the seven wise men. The wizard imprisoned six maidens in crystal cocoons, never to be seen again. Then Princess Zelda herself was captured as she sent a telepathic plea into the night. The Hylian gift that enabled Zelda to send her message also allowed Link to hear her.

“Stay back, Link. You hear me?!”

Having received Zelda’s message, Link felt compelled to save her, but his uncle forbade him to leave the house. Link’s uncle thought that the lad’s courage outweighed his common sense, yet he knew that something had to be done to save the princess. Turning away from Link, he gripped his sword. He knew a secret entrance into the castle, although he didn’t know the way out.

What a terrible night to have a curse...
What a terrible night to have a curse…

Link couldn’t tell how much time had passed since his Uncle had left — a minute? An hour? The only thing he knew was that Zelda had spoken to him. He could bear sitting around no longer. Taking a lamp to light his way, Link stepped out into the lashing rain and headed toward the castle.

"Idiot! Aye, here, take my sword..."
“Idiot! You never listen to me. Aye, here, take my sword…”

As Link floundered about in the storm, he heard a second telepathic message from Zelda telling of a secret route into the castle. When he found the entrance, he also found his uncle inside, wounded and unable to carry on. Link took his Uncle’s sword and promised to return…

KEY ITEMS AND ABILITIES

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Here are some of the cool things Link can do. You’ll be doing lots of this, and as you’d expect from Nintendo, the control is crisp and feels spot on. So far, so good!

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And here are some of the items you must find in order to complete your quest. Some have multiple uses, some are one and done, while others act as teleporting devices! Nice.

Even Hyrule is home to some hobos
Even Hyrule is home to some hobos

The Magic Bottle is an awesome item. You can carry up to four and these babies can hold magic potions (recovering health, magic power or both), fairies (which if you have activated when you die, the fairy will escape the bottle and revive you there on the spot), etc. Can you find all four? Here’s my favorite of the four. A hobo trying to just see the light of tomorrow. I love how totally atmospheric this is and it gives Hyrule a real pulse.

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Like I said earlier, many items serve multiple purposes, which speaks to Nintendo’s ability to make such playable games. The hookshot also acts as a potent offensive weapon!

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Here, Link shows off the powers of the almighty Firerod.

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The Goriya can be a tricky foe at first, but his pattern is actually simple, particularly in large open spaces. The green ones are a push over but the red ones are defiant with their scorching fireballs. Be sure you have a set of arrows on you and be prepare to move your feet.

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Hmmm, I wonder what happens when you drop a bomb by damaged walls? Oh look this is just too hard. Back to my Rampage games, then.

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Use your net to capture bees and store them in a bottle. They can be unleashed to help you battle Ganon’s minions. Did I mention how awesome the bottle is? And recall how items can serve multiple purposes. Did you know, in addition to the sword deflecting the magic of Agahnim, that the net ALSO works?  Try it!

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Hyrule is filled with cool legends and urban myths. Is the Tale of the Good Bee for real? Only weary travelers know for sure.

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That little swirly spot is the mark of the Magic Mirror which allows you to go from the Light to Dark World. I love this shot. Just look at the billow of smoke blowing from the chimney, the little swords adorning the exterior, and hey, what would happen if you smash the stake down with the magic hammer?, Could you drop off the ledge into that opening down there… where would it lead? Hmmmm…

RAIN OVER ME

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The opening scene, with the rain lashing down on Hyrule, is considered one of the most awe-inspiring gaming moments in 1992. It was simple, but it has stuck with many SNES players.

Your first goal is to head to Hyrule Castle, but you’ll need to find an alternative route…

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One of the many great things about this game was that it wasn’t just a pure action game. You had to use your wits to progress throughout the game, making it all the more rewarding when you finally do conquer it.

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Rescuing Princess Zelda is no easy job. First you must come to blows with the Ball and Chain Trooper. His demise comes with the prize of a big key. Congratulations, you’ve saved the damsel in distress and the game is over! Of course, wouldn’t be much of a game, so the silly lass gets kidnapped again. That wacky Miyamoto…

THE HOLY GRAIL!
THE HOLY GRAIL!

After you retrieve the three pendants (and solve a host of puzzles while killing tons of enemies), make your way to the Lost Woods and see if you can’t find the mythical Master Sword. Be careful, the Lost Woods is home to weird creatures, thieves hiding behind bushes, and to make matters worse it’s filled with fog and lots of false swords. Can you find the Real McCoy?

*cue classic Zelda sound effect*
*cue classic Zelda sound effect*

The mist clears and the surrounding thieves quickly scramble for cover. No normal being can so easily extract the Master Sword like that. Whoever this Link was, they knew better than to mess with him. And with that, the adventure is only beginning…

THINGS TO FIND AND DO

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In each dungeon a Big Key must be collected in addition to a host of other keys. I love how the Big Keys are kept in these large treasure chests. Therefore, it’s rather satisfying whenever you locate these bad boys.

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Other treasure chests hold not keys, but valuable goodies. Link like, oh yes, Link like a lot.

You gain an extra heart for each boss defeated, but 24 hearts are scattered throughout Hyrule in the Light and Dark World. Collecting four gives you one full heart. Some are hidden underground, others high above ground. Be creative! Push and pull any weird looking tombstones, trees, etc. Can you find all 24 hearts?

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There’s one! Random games can be played, at the price of some Rupees, and you just might find a piece of a heart in the process.

Mini-games are fun and break up the action a bit
Mini-games are fun and break up the action a bit

This is one of my favorite mini-games. It took me like 100 tries before I found the piece of heart! Worth it? YOU DAMN RIGHT!

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Along the Swamp Ruins, Hyrule historians surmised that the civilization must have cultivated crops and practiced an early form of irrigation.

[They what? -Ed.]

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Oh look, in layman terms this is another underground dungeon, but rather than being just another level, they lavished some feeling of history behind it to create its own unique world; such is the love that Miyamoto devoted into the game.

[Oh -Ed.]

Look out for Mumm-Ra...
Look out for Mumm-Ra…

Before you arrive here you must get by the intricate stonework and maze-like garden of the Dark Palace, which features a unique monkey motif. Due to the passage of time the garden has become unpredictable and thus can prove to be difficult to navigate…

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The only way to enter this dark catacomb was to flip a switch up top. But how can Link get up there? Hmmm. Talk about monkey business…

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The very ominous looking Eastern Palace, with twin gargoyle heads adorning the courtyard, is even more frightening inside. Link entered the stark domain where he soon encountered materializing skeletons and slumbering giants. Here lies the almighty Bow, but it’ll awaken the deadly Armos Knights…

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Nowhere in Hyrule was it safe. Agahnim’s guards patrolled the castle walls and even on the Sanctuary grounds.

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Many strange places call Hyrule home. Few adventurers dare make the trek in some of the more suspicious looking entrances. Thieves carved out this opening in a huge, old redwood stump, then tunneled into the earth to create a cave. Rumor has it, no one who has entered has come out alive. Children are advised to stay far away. It’s even said that a man-eating goblin lives deep underground…

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Speaking of ghouls and goblins, the Hyrulian Cemetery was full of legends and rumors. One of which was that the tombstones didn’t always hide bodies, but treasures. Will you go tramping around and risk the chance of disrupting the slumber of the dead? Who knows what spirits you might unleash… or what treasures you might find!

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The lightning laser guards Agahnim’s Tower. Man, if only I could find something to break that pesky magical seal…

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Link can see all over the land of Hyrule atop the pyramid, but an odd sense of clot overcame the young warrior. So he did not linger around for very long. But he also sensed, somehow, that he’d return to the pyramid sooner rather than later…

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A tricky section, this. Rather than floors you have intricate catwalks. Torches could be lit via the Lamp or Firerod, and then Link would have to make haste to the next position where he could relight the flame before it flickers out. You could also use the Magic of Ether to briefly light the way or push a block created by the Cane of Somaria. Or, you could just study this picture.

[Ahhhh -Ed.]

STRANGE BEINGS…

"Come to me, my little sonny..."
“Come to me, my little sonny…”

Across the land of Hyrule there are several fortune tellers. Villagers whisper that these mysterious cloaked figures are not human, and that to enter their shops is to take your own life by the throat. In a quaint cottage near one entrance to the Lost Woods you can find one of them. For a price, she would stare into a magical crystal ball and tell what fate lies in your future. Some people took the predictions seriously and visited often, while others felt it was a waste of money and claimed their crops never grew again after the visit. Link did not believe in such silly superstitions, and knew that with each fortune telling he also had his health fully restored. So, how bad could the fortune teller really be?

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Many trees litter the landscape of Hyrule. In the Light World they don’t present any sort of threat. But in the Dark World some timbers are rumored to speak. Explorers claim they’ve heard weird chants and believe these trees to be Golden Land sentries who were petrified by Ganon’s magic. Link came across hostile trees and could feel the power of Ganon growing by the step.

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This mischievous monkey, known as KiKi, has strange powers and is in love with rupees. In exchange for a set amount, he promises to do a huge favor that will right your quest. But can he be trusted? Will he steal your money and scamper off high in the trees? If you say no, will he summon his primate pals in a revolt? It’s your call…

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Life in the Mire is a nasty place. The Swamolas, believed to be the cousins of the Lanmolas, hid below the muck and slime, surfacing only to snatch a meal [Sounds a lot like my ex-wife… -Ed.]

The chickens are innocent harmless creatures, that is, until you attack one repeatedly. Then, it calls upon its buddies to revolt against you. Useless? Perhaps. Fun to mess around with? You betcha!

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In the Dark World the Ghostly Garden was filled with evil, from the bomb chucking Hinox to the squirming blobs.

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Don’t be fooled by the Hinox’s grin, he is one of the tougher regular baddies in the game. Thank goodness then that they only patrol the Dark World!

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The electro-blobs can cause havoc in packs, especially in close quarters.

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Can you find the blacksmith’s partner? Without him your sword cannot be tempered.

HURRAH!
HURRAH!

Finding the partner will require some wit and cunning skill. Nicely done.

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Sahasrahla the village elder proves to be very helpful throughout your journey.

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Zelda can communicate telepathically with Link through various panels found on the walls of the various dungeons. She offers handy tips to further your progress.

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Fairy Fountains are a Godsend, re-energizing weary travelers to full strength.

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Can you rescue all six trapped maidens?

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Steve, the handsome hero, once again [Yeah, ONLY in video games -Ed.]

YOU AIN’T THE BOSS OF ME

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Many boss battles take place throughout the adventure and I won’t spoil all of them, but here are some to feast your eyes on.

The Armos Knights look intimidating, but they’re a cakewalk. Three well-placed arrows will dispatch of each one, but the last one is double tough. Defeating them earns you the Pendant of Courage.

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Moldorm guards the Mountain Palace and can be very tricky. If you fall over you must start over. I suffered this such fate several times before I got the best of old Moldy. Once you upset him, he starts slithering really fast. It’s almost disturbing in a “It shouldn’t LOOK LIKE THAT!” sort of way.

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Blind the Thief is very sneaky. Finding him is half the battle. Good luck with that, friend.

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Agahnim guards Hyrule Castle and has captured Zelda, the swine.

[Zelda or Agahnim? -Ed.]

Hmmm, both, really, come to think of it.

Hint: He can only be hurt by deflecting his magic. Why not try out the bug-catching net?

Gotta love that old school NINTENDO POWER art
Gotta love that old school NINTENDO POWER art!

Oh Lord… this doesn’t look too good…

Vitreous guards the Misery Mire. It sees all, har har har. Watch out for the lightning this vile creature emits, and once the giant eye comes after you like such, hack away. Like most of the boss battles, it’s easy but nonetheless very satisfying to kill.

The fall of Vitreous sees you rescuing the sixth and final maiden. Finally, the location of Princess Zelda will then be disclosed.

Looking a bit like the new Godzilla...
Shades of GODZILLA RESURGENCE

Ooooh, that’s one nasty looking bugger.

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The Helmasaur King is a big bad boy all right, and guards the double tough Dark Palace. He starts the battle out wearing a gigantic mask. The first step is to remove it, somehow…

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Can you destroy the evil Ganon and save all of Hyrule? The quest awaits.

MY FAVORITE LEGEND

Link to the Past has plenty of legends, rumors and urban myths. It gives Hyrule a real heart beat, a real pulse. It’s the magic that only Nintendo and Miyamoto seem able to craft. I love almost all of them, but I have to share this one… the good ole LEGEND OF THE FLUTE PLAYER.

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Witnesses have seen animals gather around a fading flute player in a grove in central Hyrule. Others claim they can hear the faint playing of a flute hauntingly swirling from the grove north of the Swamp. They would run in the direction of the sound and then find absolutely nothing. Silence fell over as they approached the stump. Suddenly the music would play again and they ran for their lives, convinced that the grove was haunted by an evil, restless spirit. And ever since, everyone knows of the location simply as THE HAUNTED GROVE.

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One day, Link ran into the Haunted Grove to escape some of Agahnim’s soldiers. There he found one of the strangest sights he had ever seen in all of Hyrule. A ghost-like boy sat on a stump playing a flute. Surrounding the boy was a host of animals. When Link approached, the animals ran away and the boy vanished. Try as he might, he could not catch the animals or the boy. Link later discovered they were ghosts…

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Later in his journey Link came across villagers who indulged the youth on the legend of the Flute Boy.

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In the Dark World, the mystery of the Flute Boy was slowly but surely unraveling…

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The Flute Boy gave Link his shovel. Now if Link could only find the lost flute…

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Link got to work, in hopes he would find the Flute and discover its magical powers…

I won’t say how the tale of the Flute Boy plays out exactly, but it’s pretty sad. I grew quite fond of the bloke. Blast it to all heck.

Boy, clues used to be SO subtle in video games
Boy, clues used to be SO subtle in video games

THE TRUE STORY OF ZELDA — FINALLY UNCENSORED!

Stop the presses! I’ve got the scoop to end all, er, scoops! Hidden in the vaults of Nintendo Headquarters I have managed, through my adventurous and plucky spirit, to secure the DIRECTOR’S CUT of how the story REALLY plays out!

Take a look below.

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Well that escalated quickly...
Well that escalated quickly…

Yoinks! Looks like when the pressure was on, his Master Sword broke… [Oh dear -Ed.]

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

  • EGM: 8, 9, 9, 9
  • Super Play: 93%

In their 100th issue, November 1997, EGM listed Link to the Past as the 3rd best game of all time.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE SHIGSTER

[Don’t call me that ever again -Mr. Miyamoto]

Credit Super Play Magazine (a UK Super Nintendo publication that ran from 1992-1996) and Onn Lee of Electric Brain fanzine for their conversation below with Zelda mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto! Circa November ’92.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Shigeru Miyamoto has the golden touch. He’s directly responsible for both the Zelda and Mario series of games developed at Nintendo’s ‘Entertainment Analysis And Development’ department in Japan, making him perhaps the most important games creator at work in the world today. When a piece of software sells 10,000 copies in Japan it is considered a hit, but many Mr. Miyamoto has been involved with have shifted millions, as well as become household names worldwide. It all puts him rather in the super-league. Here’s a conversation recorded with Mr. Miyamoto earlier this year.

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What exact role do you take in the games development process?

SM: I don’t actually do any of the programming, but I am involved in organizing the programming teams. Instead of imposing deadlines, I find that constant encouragement of your staff is the best way to keep them going. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons for our success.

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Are the Super Famicom and SNES versions of Zelda III the same?

SM: Because the SFC version completely used up all 8 megabits of memory, we originally estimated that we’d need another megabit to cope with the text being translated into English for the American game. That being the case we’d need a 9 megabit cartridge for America, but wouldn’t be using up all the space on it, so we toyed with squeezing in a few of the spare ideas left out of Zelda 1 to fill up the space. In the event, though, we managed to fit the English version onto 8 megabits anyway, so any ideas like that went out the window. So yes, both versions should be exactly the same.

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When was Zelda III originally meant to be released?

SM: We were hoping to release it at the time the Super Famicom itself first came out, back in November 1990 alongside Super Mario World. We couldn’t make that, so after that a March ’91 release was planned, but the project dragged on beyond that, too. Eventually it became a Super Famicom first anniversary release instead.

How many people actually worked on the game?

SM: We started with just a handful for about a year, but then added more as things progressed. Basically the small team works out a rough draft plan, and the large team refines this into a game.

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What kinds of things did you have in mind when planning the new game?

SM: We wanted to improve on all the shortcomings of the 8-bit games that had been imposed on us by the technical limitations of the Famicom. In the 8-bit Zelda the player had to imagine a lot of effects that the graphics couldn’t simulate. Also, back in 1987 Zelda had introduced lots of new features to games, like the ability to save your game and buy items, but in the meantime these had become the bog-standard components of any RPG. We knew that to keep ahead of the pack, Zelda III needed more.

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How difficult did you want to make Zelda III?

SM: On average it takes about 40 hours to complete, but the fastest recorded time at Nintendo is five hours! We’ve actually tried to make it as easy as possible. The way the game is structured you can’t take alternative routes to finish the game, so we’ve made it that, for example, if you come across a blocked passage you will be able to progress further, even if you have forgotten a certain item. If mainstream gamers could cope with less linear adventures, though, we might have made it a lot harder.

Is it true that loads of brilliant ideas had to be dropped because of a shortage of memory space?

SM: No, we dropped the average ideas and picked the best!

And finally, how about the future?

SM: I can’t discuss new games at the moment, but we’ve got lots of plans, at least one of which is along the same lines as Pilotwings [And that, as one might guess, became most likely….Star Fox -Ed.]

Thanks once again to Super Play Magazine and Onn Lee!

Interesting that Shigs [Oh forget it -Mr. Miyamoto] mentioned the average of 40 hours. Here’s how I fared on my first go ever…

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As you can see, Turtle Rock and Dark Palace gave me the most fits. Most Zelda III players complain about Turtle Rock and Ice Palace. Ice Palace wasn’t too bad for me. I had a night class at 7 PM and had an hour to kill. I decided to tackle Ice Palace and ended up beating it just in time before class started. Nothing beats that I tells ya! Ah, good times.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Nothing like righting a childhood wrong
Nothing like finally righting a childhood wrong

On Sunday evening, March 11, 2007, 19 days after I started Link to the Past, I dethroned Ganon and finally liberated Hyrule. It was bittersweet in some respect. Sure it was nice seeing the land blossom again and what have you, but a part of me wanted just one more dungeon to work through, one more boss to decimate, one more item to procure, one more heart piece to discover, one more mini-game to play and one more urban legend to solve. It was 30 hours of bliss, and the more I progressed the more the game grew on me, until it nearly consumed me, making me even all the more shameful I waited 15 years to finally play through this. Ah, to live and learn eh?

Every little touch in this game is just great. The hobo taking cover under the bridge, the tale of the quarreling brothers, the bedridden boy, the legend of the Flute Player, the witch, all the dungeons and bosses… there is so much to do and take in. And take it in you will. Not nearly enough games reach the level that Link to the Past did. And what a shame that is. This is more than a game — it’s an EXPERIENCE. Corny and cliche, but true. Take it from a converted fan of this genre, I am just beginning to discover the joy this type of game can generate. It’s not immediately satisfying perhaps, but it doesn’t take long before the quest takes over your every waking moment. After I beat the Ice Palace I ran to my night class. As my professor lectured on and on about BICS and CALP, I could only find myself thinking about what horrors the Misery Mire would bring, and counting down the hours until class would end. Is this the sign of a truly captivating game, or a truly sick man? Probably both.

Further proof of the latter… something disturbed me deeply regarding the theme of the Dark World. Play through that again and TRY TO TELL ME that the theme doesn’t sound like the infamous Saturday Night Live music skit DICK IN A BOX!

[Uh yeah, reminder to self: edit that out…. -Ed.]

Any complaints? Well, there is a hint of slowdown here and there, like the boss fight with Mothula f’rinstance. And while it’s relatively clear what you need to do next, a few of the puzzles are slightly, in my opinion, obscure and can be tough to figure out if playing guide-free. The incessant beep that plays when you’re on your last heart is annoying. These are minor quips though, quite frankly. Other than that, it’s hard to find a real flaw in the armor.

Until we meet again
For now the Master Sword rests peacefully. For now…

Zelda III was released in Japan on November 21, 1991, exactly one year after the Super Famicom made its debut. The American release was held back for six months. When it finally did appear it sold 250,000 copies in the first six weeks — faster than any other Nintendo game in history! If by some crazy chance you’ve yet to play Link to the Past, then I hope you make it a priority to do so. I still have a lot of classics I need to go through, and I can only hope they’re half as good as this.

You are TRULY one of the best games EVER
Happy 24th Anniversary! April 13, 1992-April 13, 2016

Yes, Link to the Past is worth all the hype. You cannot call yourself a Super Nintendo fan, hell, forget that, you can’t call yourself a VIDEO GAME fan until you’ve played through this fine masterpiece. One of the best games on the Super Nintendo, heck, on any system ever. Magic, mystery, action, loads of multi-purpose items, puzzles, giant guardians, huge sprawling mazes, it’s got the lot! An epic hall of fame adventure you simply must go through at least once, if not twice, before you die.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 10
Longevity: 9

Overall: 10

Platinum Award
Platinum Award