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'The Legend of Zelda'

A Look Through History

Link looking at the horizon on the main cover for The Breath of the Wild. (Nintendo Switch, 2017)

It is common knowledge that The Legend of Zelda is one of the most played game franchises of all times. From the very beginning, this game series attracted attention with its very first release: The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertaining System on February 21, 1986 in Japan; August 22, 1986 in North America.

'The Legend of Zelda' (1986)

The very first The Legend of Zelda game, first released in February 1986.

After the developers grasped the potential this game had, they decided to create another version for the same platform. On January 14, 1987, Nintendo released Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in Japan. It was through this game that players developed an understanding of Link, the main character of the series. This was done by the newly introduced features in the game. For instance, in order for players to unlock missions, they had to make sure they travelled around the map in search of people to talk to and get information from.

The mechanics of the game also demanded that players got familiar with the abilities of Link. In addition, the developers introduced a different way of capturing the main events that took place during gameplay. Boss battles and small action-oriented settings—castles, dungeons, and traversing through buildings—were all displayed in 2D mode. In the previous game, all of this was focalized through a bird's eye perspective, players could only see what was happening from above. These features opened a new paradigm for what later turned to be an incredibly successful video game franchise.

'Zelda II: The Adventures of Link' (1987)

As the years passed by, the game developers tried to keep up with the new Nintendo consoles that were being launched. In an effort to do so, they created more versions based off of the original The Legend of Zelda.

Developers released two new games for Super Nintendo on November 21, 1991, and March 30, 1997. Nintendo also launched one more game for the portable Game Boy on June 6, 1993 and two more for the Nintendo 64. Then they went back to the handheld market and released two more games for the Game Boy Color. Three titles were later launched for the Nintendo GameCube, one for the Game Boy Advanced, and two for Wii. They also launched another two for the Nintendo DS with two more for the Nintendo 3DS, one for the Wii U, and the very last release was for Nintendo's newest console, the Nintendo Switch, on March 3, 2017.

The Various Zelda Games from 1986 to 2017

Link has seen variations over the years with different versions of the game.

All in all, Nintendo developers worked on 21 original main releases, as well as 22 remakes. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (released on December 1, 1998) was also remade in colour, featuring an added dungeon to the game. The Legend of Zelda for the Wii featured five titles, of which The Legend of Zelda, 1986, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, 1987, were initially created for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Players in search of all versions can also find six The Legend of Zelda games for the Nintendo 3DS, all of which were remade versions of earlier titles released for either the Game Boy Color or the Nintendo 64.

In the spam of three decades, Nintendo has offered its players numerous innovative franchises. One them is The Legend of Zelda. With the game's variations and mechanics, aesthetics and game-play, it has remained and forever will remain one of the Nintendo classics.