The first Legend of Zelda game I ever played was Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Game Boy when I was about ten years old. I remember loving the game, but being unbelievably awful at it. I used to ask this pretty girl in my class called Corrin how to advance whenever I got stuck, and I got stuck a lot. She claimed to have beaten the entire game in a five hour flight to the United States, something that still seems impossible to me to this day, and yet she did seem to have all of the answers that I needed. I didn’t play another Zelda game for the next ten years or so as I only owned Sony consoles. But when I received a Nintendo Wii, I knew straight away that there was one game in particular that I would need to play. That game was Twilight Princess. Apparently, not much has changed since I was ten years old as I still managed to get stuck, a lot. Except that now instead of asking a pretty girl how to get past something, I turned to the internet (the story of my life).
Even though Twilight Princess is incredibly more advanced than Link’s Awakening, there was so much that was familiar to me. Mainly it was the feeling of bewilderment at the scope and complexity of the game that I was playing, but there was also the humour and warmth of the NPCs and of course the kick-ass weapons. I felt exactly the same compulsion to find out how to get past obstacles that mysteriously blocked my way, and to find those ever-elusive heart fragments. It honestly felt like seeing an old friend again, except now they were grown up and had a whole bunch of new and exciting stuff to show me.
From the very start it felt as if the Wii was the natural habitat for a Zelda game. For a series of games that are designed – more so than others – to put you in the shoes of the hero, what could be more natural than letting you swing the sword or aim the bow yourself and in real-time. Link doesn’t talk, he doesn’t question whatever it is that he has to do, and you can even give him your own name should you wish to do so. On console games, the distance between player and protagonist rarely gets closer, and with the Wii’s interface that gap got even smaller. I move my arm and the baddie on my TV screen gets it in the neck, surely this is what they were aiming for when the very first video game was launched.
The Legend of Zelda series may not be the most innovative when it comes to characterization or story lines, but when it comes to gameplay it is one of the most innovative. How many times has Link saved Zelda now? And yet, each time there is something new and wonderful to discover. A lot of games have expansive worlds with realer-than-real graphics, and that’s fine, but Zelda games make do beautifully with a small world jam-packed with things to do that you want to keep returning to, interacting with and exploring all over again. Towards the end of Twilight Princess you discover a hidden village. The hidden village is a wild-west style shanty town, and your job is to clear it out before being killed. It is easily one of the most fun things to do in this game, or any other come to think of it. The entrance to the hidden village is behind a boulder that you walk and ride past at least twenty times, never once suspecting that there may be an entire village behind it. This is what I am talking about with the Zelda series, no matter which game you play, they will always be something new and exciting for you to discover.