Hey, Listen!

I drew this last year for the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series.

Let me tell you about how much I love Legend of Zelda, in case you didn’t know. When I got my NES in ‘86 or ‘87, this was the second game I played, right behind the Duck Hunt/Mario Bros. combo pack (with the orange zapper.) Mom came home with this cartridge one day, saying that she got it from her coworker whose son wasn’t crazy about the game. I, being a magpie, was already fascinated, because the cartridge was gold, first off, instead of the dull, gunmetal grey like most games of the time. And there was a shield on the cover! And the name. ”Legend of Zelda.” I’d been spending all my time bopping Goombas on the head and listening to that damn dog from Duck Hunt laugh at me – it didn’t even occur to me until then that maybe games could be more than that; that there could be swords and princesses and magic.

This was before strategy guides were widely available, especially in my backwoods Tennessee hometown, so my mom and I spent hours mapping out all of those dungeons and where to find shops. That was another thing – though my mom and dad owned an arcade, they hadn’t really gotten into the home gaming phenomenon except to kindly play the Luigi to my Mario a few times. Mom, however, was all about Zelda. She loved the puzzles; I loved killing moblins. It was a huge bonding experience and many of the happiest moments of my sometimes bleak childhood are linked (ha!) to Zelda games.

We promptly went out and got the widely-derided Zelda II: Adventure of Link.  This could possibly require me to give up my gamer card, but neither of us thought it was all that bad. It was too hard for me – I didn’t end up completing the game until I came back to it in my teens, but I liked the music.The title music STILL makes me feel like going on an adventure.

I wrote stories about Link and Zelda. I drew pictures. I had a Zelda themed birthday party (mom hid craft-store plastic jewel “rupees” in the yard for us to find like Easter Eggs.) I read the ridiculous comics. I convinced myself to behave by pretending that I was Princess Zelda, and princesses cleaned their rooms and did their homework.

And I continued to wait with bated breath for each new release. I remember pretty much writhing in anticipation for the SNES iteration, A Link to the Past, to come out when I was ten. The previous game had come out three years earlier and you know that’s pretty much infinity times infinity to a kid.

My enthusiasm continued up until Majora’s Mask. I loved Ocarina of Timeand still consider it the highlight of the series (very closely followed by LttP.) When Mask came out, I bought it like the dutiful Zelda fan I was, but it just…did nothing for me. It wasn’t Hyrule. It didn’t feel like a Zelda game to me.Wind Waker, for me, was another disappointment. Story-wise, I found it incredibly depressing that evil had won out in the end, and Hyrule had been flooded. Like, incredibly depressing. As silly as it sounds, Hyrule had been a huge part of my young life, and to see it just done away with like that was hard to swallow. Rationally, I know the graphics are amazing and the gameplay is good, but I just couldn’t get into it. Then when Twilight Princessrolled around, I couldn’t muster any excitement for it. The game had changed too much from what it used to be – innovation be damned.

And then there’s Skyward Sword. I didn’t expect to like Skyward Sword since I hadn’t really enjoyed a Zelda game since OoT, but the part of me that still remembers literally running around the living room in glee after dropping Ganon compelled me to buy it, I guess. I’ve got to say, this game has surprised the hell out of me. The graphics are really beautiful for a Wii game, the whole Wiimote thing doesn’t seem as gimmicky to me as it does in other games, and the story is oddly touching. I even brought my mom back in for this one, and now when she comes up and visits me on weekends, we’re back to our 25 year long routine. She solves the puzzles, and I fight the moblins.


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