Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Legend of Zelda and Me

Four months after I was born Nintendo launched The Legend of Zelda series. Twenty five years on and Zelda is still going strong - as am I, thanks for asking. Much like a treasured object or loyal family pet, the Zelda franchise has always been there for me.

My first encounter with Link was in 1989, personified by a whiny, petulant kid with an annoying catchphrase: “Excuuuuuuse me Princess!”

Despite the appalling voice acting in the animated series, my love for the character blossomed when I actually played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES, for the first time. I distinctly recall the overwhelming sense of pride upon fully completing the game and boasting to all my friends about it - only to discover that the majority (and by that I mean all) of them didn’t really care. They were more concerned with dolls or painting nails and aged nine there was no way I was going to boys about it!

From then on I consumed every Zelda game released. The series taught me to appreciate my own company, identifying with the central character [Link] and his core morals and sense of adventure. This somehow seeped into my school life and I used to find myself daydreaming about cutting grass, searching for Rupees and throwing chickens at locals, all the while shouting HYAH! Incidentally, had you asked me back then what my favourite colour was I would have said green and explained it was because of Link’s costume - ask me now, the answer's still green.

Naturally, RPG adventure games became my preferred gaming genre and during my teens I revelled in their immersive, escapist quality. But I always came back to Zelda and one of my favourite games (ever) is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It’s also the only reason I bought a Wii... and arguably, the GameCube. In fact, let’s just assume every time a Nintendo console was released I bought it with the sole intention of purchasing and playing the Zelda title. And in between releases I sketched sheets of fan art and manipulated the parameters of my Textiles A-Level assignment to craft a replica Princess Zelda costume - reading that back I just face-palmed myself and muttered, “I’m so lame.”

It probably reached a peak when I investigated the possibility of a Triforce tattoo - only to discover the vast quantity of gamers who had already done the same. As all Zelda fans know, the Triforce is a profound symbol and each part stands for a particular trait: Link represents Courage, Zelda is Wisdom and Ganon, Power. These three words became my mantra and I tried to possess them in equal measure. Whilst growing up, courage helped me to overcome fears and take risks. I channelled power to help me be strong when things got me down and I yearned for wisdom in all its forms, even now. See? Talking about it again makes me want the tattoo!

There is one thing that worries me. Zelda’s twenty five years old, will my kids and I be playing a new Zelda game in another twenty five years? Part of me hopes so but it fuels a growing concern that there hasn’t really been a successful original Nintendo title in years. I’ve owned all their consoles and most of their handhelds and every time it’s the same game franchises resurfacing with improved graphics. I don’t want to be bored of Link’s adventures but I often wonder if I only play Zelda games for the nostalgia they bring me.

At E3, Nintendo announced their new console; the stupidly named Wii U- suffice to say, I wasn’t too impressed. The technology is dated and the controller is the size of an iPad but when I saw the footage from the Zelda game I didn’t care, I wanted a Wii U!

I guess you can see my dilemma, maybe you’re suffering in the same way. Applying the series mantra, I have the wisdom of years of gaming to know that the game will undoubtedly be awesome; I also possess the power to buy it (thank you full-time wage); I just don’t think I have the courage anymore to take a risk on a console when there’s only one game I want on it, no matter how great the effect it’s had on me. Could this be the first Zelda game I don’t play?! I honestly can’t answer this but the thought terrifies me and I don’t like it one bit.
Who am I kidding? I’ll be eating these words next year. Damn you, Miyamoto-san!

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