Thursday, April 12, 2007

Man exits the proverbial cave, discovers the charm of Zelda

Long, long ago (mid-1980's), in a galaxy far, far away (friend's apartments, Baton Rouge, LA), I played the original 'The Legend Of Zelda' videogame on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This game was enormously popular, and within the videogame playing universe the conventional wisdom held that Zelda was an excellent game. Ground-breaking, wonderful, entertaining, etc... Pick a superlative, and it's likely the word was applied to Zelda by somebody somewhere.

Well, I played the game, and whatever the appeal was, I missed it. I truly didn't "get" the game. It seemed to me that the game was nothing more than wandering around, and occasionally running into some minor on-screen opponent that you'd have to engage in combat, and the combat was far too easy.

According to the Zelda webpage linked to above, the game was released in 1987. I began playing videogames when Pong arrived, in the early-1970's. So for about 15 years I'd been playing videogames before encountering Zelda. In fairness, Zelda was substantially different in a lot of ways from most of the games that preceeded it. Well, I *liked* the games I'd been playing for over half my life, and I didn't really like Zelda.

The games I liked were fast-paced, hand-eye coordination challenges. I liked games like Spy Hunter, Xevious, Star Castle, Berzerk, Marble Madness, and Defender. All of the games I liked were adrenaline-pumping and heart-racing - Zelda was a leisurely stroll through various screens. I found it BORING.

I was mature enough to recognize that the game must surely have merit, but I just didn't understand or appreciate it myself. Curiously, I liked the Atari VCS game Adventure a lot, and the fundamentals of Zelda are similar to Adventure. (BTW, if you liked Adventure also, and if you have an Atari 5200, Adventure II is on the verge of release. Check it out here.)

Since that time, there have been many other Zelda games. (According to the Zelda website I referred to, there have been 14 additional Zelda games.) I never bothered to try any of them, and many have been highly praised and quite popular.

When the latest Zelda game arrived in December 2006 I read a lot of praise online about the game. I'd been thinking about picking it up to try it out, and debating whether I should get the Gamecube version, or wait and get the Wii version once I get a Wii.

Then, on March 30, I stopped at my friend Joe's store, Digital Press, for the latest NAVA meeting. While there, I purchased a copy of Zelda, The Wind Waker for my Gamecube. For the last couple of weeks Nate and I have been having a blast playing this game.

Sunday evening Nate got in trouble and the game was banned for this week, but until then we were plowing through the game and having a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to resuming play this Sunday.

I may be late to the party, but I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

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