Monday, February 21, 2011

It's dangerous to go alone

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the original Zelda's release in Japan.

This makes me happy, but also make me feel incredibly old. I was almost two when it came out.

The first game system I really remember is the NES, which my brother got for Christmas one year, I believe. My father's reasoning was that it would save money in the end, because every time you died in-game, you didn't have to pay another quarter to play again.

My family fell in love with Zelda when they played it. My parents and big brother spent hours and hours drawing out maps for each of the dungeons on graph paper. Not only did they make the layouts, but included what enemies were in each room, where to use bombs, what needed keys, and the best routes to take to find everything and beat the dungeon quickly.

In the intervening years, we have recopied those maps on at least four different occasions, because the previous versions would grow so old and yellow that you could hardly see what was written on them any more.

The Legend of Zelda's been such an integral part of my family's culture, that it became a right of passage to beat the game. I believe I was about 11 or 12 when I finally beat it. I had downloaded an NES emulator onto my computer and started playing through it. Mom saw what I was doing and told me to dig out the NES and play it old-school.

Mom and Dad then proceeded to guide me through the dungeons and give me tips and hints. Prior to that, I had always manned the maps and told them where to go.

It was a bizarre feeling.

This past Christmas, we guided Sam through the game. It was a bit different of course--they had downloaded it onto the Wii, since the NES now lives with Sam and I. Still, after a couple of days Sam had destroyed Ganon and rescued the princess. When he had finished, I heard C-3PO in my head saying, "You are now a part of the tribe!"

(I know the original quote is "we are now a part of the tribe," but that's the wonderful thing about imagination--it can adapt.)

So, it is with great joy that I celebrate Zelda's 25th anniversary!

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