It seems like it was just yesterday that he was wielding his first sword... they grow up so fast!

Good day Zelda Universe! The day has finally come: today is a historic day in the world of video games. What day is it, you ask? It is the day that The Legend of Zelda was released for the NES 25 years ago! This year alone is already huge for the Zelda franchise . IGN has been calling it “The Year of Zelda,” and 2011 will be home to two new releases for the Zelda series – Ocarina of Time: 3D for the Nintendo 3DS, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii.

We don’t know about you, but we couldn’t be more excited about the year ahead of us. So please join us in celebrating and reflecting back on the Zelda series – and let us know about your own experiences with Zelda over the years in the comments!

Before we talk about anything else, we thought it appropriate to just have a quick look back at the origins of Zelda.

Here we have Link from the original Legend of Zelda for the NES. As the Hero of the Land of Hyrule, this elfin boy clad in green from head to toe – or more like head to knee as his boots are brown –  has been the main protagonist and playable character for every single game in the Legend of Zelda series, with the exception of several spin-off projects. Although many of the Links featured in the newer games have technically been different characters – ancestors or what have you – the basic, established look and feel of our legendary hero is laid down right here.

He has a green cap, green tunic, boots, a belt that can hold his many weapons, and his famous pointy ears. He wields his sword in his left hand, which is a characteristic that later becomes standard for most appearances of future Links – and he’s carrying his shield in his right hand, with a solid stance ready to strike his enemies to top it off. The Cross emblem sported on Link’s original shield was eventually replaced with less religiously relavent designs. Link was a strong, capable character design that has proven timeless now for 25 years. He is the original Zelda game’s first major accomplishment.

And here we have our beloved princess of Hyrule, Zelda! Link, however, is not the character featured in the title of the game – that honor goes to our little-seen heroine, Princess Zelda. Here in Zelda 1, she’s only featured at the very end of the quest, after Link has won the final battle and arrived to rescue her. As it should be. She’s the focus of the adventure, and her heartfelt thanks and message of congratulations before the credits roll is all the role she needed to fill.

But this Zelda, of course, inspired an entire line of other characters to bear the same name in the years that followed – most of whom have been more active, and more visible, princesses. Zelda even became a playable character herself in a couple of spin-off games and the Super Smash Bros. fighting series, showing that she’s one dangerous damsel who can get herself out of her own distress, when need be. Zelda 1’s first edition of the young lady might not have done too much, but she set the precedent – and held the name – that’s been reverberating since ’86.

Of course, The Legend of Zelda has gone through a plethora of changes and evolutions since then, and each release has been game-changing in some way. If you’ve been around, you’ve watch Zelda change and evolve – in style and gameplay, in portability, in realism, in the sheer number of large objects that Link somehow fits in his pocket.

Ocarina of Time – considered by many to be the greatest game of all time – revolutionized the genre upon its release and brought Zelda into the 3D era. Games such as The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess expanded and improved upon the mechanic that Ocarina of Time invented. And now we’ve come to an incredible time in Zelda’s history, where – for the first time in years – we’re seeing the release of two major Zelda titles in one year.

Skyward Sword promises to be the next evolution of the Zelda franchise

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, unveiled at last year’s E3 press conference, at first glance looks like it fits perfectly well inside the Zelda mold we’ve come to know and love. But Miyamoto assures us that this is not the case – that Skyward Sword makes several drastic changes to the formula, and for the better. Could he be right?

Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: Zelda has a bright future ahead of it. Perhaps in another 25 years Zelda will be something completely different – but equally recognized, just as fun, just as genre-defining.

How are you celebrating Zelda‘s 25th anniversary? We’ve already got enough cake to last us a lifetime – and some of us have even started new save files on our favorite Zelda game. So please, share with us your Zelda experiences from throughout your years – and your hopes and dreams for Zelda‘s future!

  • Guise

    Well that was quick.

    Good show.

  • Jonathan

    Gonna play Link's Awakening today because I never beat it :X

    • Good Luck, and The Three Goddesses of Hyrule Speed!!

      -alternately-

      Good Luck, and Kaepora Gaebora Speed!!

      In my opinion, up to this day and beyond for some time, I feel that Link's Awakening will forever (?) be my favorite in the series… you're in for a treat, bruddah!

    • eliot

      yeah that was my 1st zelda, have fun 😉

  • Wow…25 already, and Zelda still looks great. Even at 50 I bet she'll be gorgeous. The advantages of being Hylian, I suppose. ;D

    I'm going to play Ocarina of Time and finish it today from when I began it over the weekend. Playing Zelda's top-ranked accomplishment seems to be the best way I can celebrate the franchise, though if I could do more, I most certainly would.

  • jduff725

    Wearing my Link hat and green polo today!

  • KingDodongo1

    I think a Four Swords/Four Swords Adventures session with my friends is in order for today. Wearing my Triforce shirt, too! =P

  • Bruce

    Happy Birthday Zelda! =3

    Is Nintendo doing anything cool for Zelda's 25th? Mario had stuff for his, that 25th all stars and the club Nintendo site had a special Mario 25th coin thingy.

  • WakXIX

    this is way better than presidents day!!!!!! ^_^
    happy anniversary ZU & Zelda!!!!

  • Zuko

    Happy Anniversary! For 25 years, Link has showed us that nothing is hopeless. All it takes is one small boy with courage, determination, and a kick ass sword to defeat the overwhelming forces of evil.

    Keep up the good work Miyamoto! I look forward to celebrating another 25 years.

  • Eric

    My Birthday is tomorrow!!!! I'll DEFINITELY make a Triforce cake!!!

  • Hylian Phoenix

    Happy Birthday Zelda!
    You're my favorite game series, i'll never forget this day!!!
    T_T

  • Snow_Storm

    Perhaps I shall learn some Zelda tunes on my violin to celebrate this milestone.

  • goronbot

    The long span of zelda fans are here for a long while and I
    cant wait for the 50th aniversary as all the other fanshope that too

  • goronbot

    sorry I meant to say fans hope that too

  • Link24

    Happy Birthday Zelda!

  • maefreak

    Happy Birthday to you Zelda, it has been a good ride and let's toast to many more!

  • Shaelyn

    what I want to know is: how is NINTENDO celebrating Zelda's birthday?

    no gold wii and ds? no bonus stuff? nothing?

  • TriforceofCourage

    P.S. I am going to start a new game on one of my Zelda games today. I'm not sure which though… probably either Zelda 1 or TP. 🙂

  • I thought today was the day the Zelda was released for the FDS?

  • Joe

    I restarted loz collectors edition from the very first game.

  • Tsephoea

    Borrowing much from the IGN article no? >_>

  • These days sneak up, and are remembered, fondly back in time. If but only we, mighty players and lovers of these stories of rancorous villains, wise and kind princesses, and the Heroes of Lands, Times and Swords we all love and love-true-sublime, the greatest gifts I've received of these games is my deepest philosophy in life… simply that of the Tripartite Power, Wisdom, and Courage!!

    We all need Power to be Able to Do, we all need Wisdom to channel that Power, to be wise enough to maintain it, to know to be driven of it, to stand behind it always, and we so need the Courage to maintain, to have power, to have the wisdom, we need Courage to act, to continue, even after we seem to have lost all heart!!

    Zelda is so much more than just a game.

    Praise be to Din, Nayru and Farore forever!! Blessed be the Sacred Light, and let us give thanks to the Master Sword.

    Happy Birthday, Zelda!!

  • Impatient

    It would be nice if someone at Nintendo actually recognized today's anniversary with a statement or press release.

    I guess it's just too much to ask.

    In regards to 25th anniversaries, games not named "Mario" need not apply.

  • serena

    the big 25… amazing…. zelda's 10 years older then me…

  • matthewzfan

    Happy Birthday Zelda! 25 years and many more to come:)
    When I go out, im gonna wear my Zelda gear for Zelda's Birthday.

  • Austin

    Happy 25th birthday Legend of Zelda

  • Hoserman_x

    Happy Anniversary to the Legend of Zelda..Thank you Mr. Miyamoto for making one of the greatest game series ever.. heres to many more years of adventure in the land of Hyrule. ^_^

  • Alessandra

    Happy Anniversary to Zelda Universe and to The Legend of Zelda series! I hope that this game lives to see another 25 years like Mario has. I wonder if Nintendo is even doing anything to celebrate Zelda like they did for Mario.

  • I've grown up with Zelda. Even though it's four years older than me and I missed the NES classics, it's still had a large influence on my life. I'm very proud to not only call it to this day my favorite game series of all time, but I'm also proud to consider myself a dedicated fan until the day I die. Happy 25th Anniversary, Legend of Zelda! Mr. Miyamoto should be filled with pride that his series has touched so many people's hearts.

  • Vio714

    MILKS ON ME!!!!!

  • zeldarules

    I'm celebrating by playing the first Zelda gam I ever played, Twilight Princess!

    • zeldarules

      *game

  • scott

    I bought an ocarina and fought the final bosses of all the games. IT HAS BEEN AN AMAZING 25 YEARS OF ADVENTURE AND GREEN HATS!

  • Mr. M

    I played through the original Legend of Zelda and beat it… good times. That was the very first video game I ever played, and I am very, very glad.
    Happy Birthday, Legend of Zelda!

  • Muskiok

    Heh, I admit that I'd forgotten it was today, but apparently my subconscious remembered, because I wore one of two Zelda shirts I own today! 🙂

    I've gotta thank the Zelda series for so much. It's what got me into gaming in the first place. It's because of Zelda games that I've become the crazy gamer I am now!

  • aw9000 (AKA Aaron!)

    Im gonna start with the first zelda game I ever played ocarina of time, and then end with the first game I attempted a lets play with link to the past. I want to buy the legend of zelda skyward sword on OoT this year. I unofrtunately preordered the 3DS at gamestop, so I wont be getting any limited edition 3DS systems. but I will go as far to say this: if it is possible to meet with mr myamoto I want to thank him for both mario(cause i didnt get the chance last year) and zelda and to keep making video games!! Ill give him a great big hug, and get my 3ds signed hopfully.

    • Pablo

      sell the preordered 3ds to someone with a little lower price or something 😀 or sell it later but you may lose a little more money…

  • Hero

    Happy 25 years (2500 in Hylian years) to the never ending Legend of Zelda! (Hence legends never die). Here's to centuries past and many more adventurous years to come! Thank you Nintendo for making the greatest series and story of all time!

  • Banooru

    Me and my little bro made a zelda binder today with maps, drawings of characters, items, symbols, etc. from each of our favorite games in celebration, and he wore the link costume I got him last year and faced phantom ganon. I'm glad the series is as fun for him as it has been for me, and it looks like it's only gonna get better!!!

  • erik

    i am pretty lucky with my birthday: ZU has the same birthday date, zelda aswell and the norwegian king!!! yeeeey

  • Pablo

    My first Zelda game was OoT, then MM and others. I remember how I played so much OoT and it got me inspired to construct a sling, and bow with the help of my uncle. It may sound funny for someone: TLoZ had a profound impact on my life. Long Live The Legend of Zelda!!!

  • Fizz

    MARIN YOU'RE STILL STUCK ON THAT BRIDGE I'M SO SORRY. As soon as I find a way to save you and keep your clone, I will do so. Soon, Marin! Soon!

    And a happy birthday to the Mean Green Machine and his ladyfriend.

  • DarkLink654

    cool

  • Paffe

    I didn't have the opportunity to write this yesterday, so here goes:
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ZELDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    While reading this article, I remembered my first meeting with Zelda. It was when I borrowed Ocarina of Time from my uncle, and when I started playing on his save file, I found myself in the Temple of Time (as adult Link, of course) and when I went outside and saw those ReDead's. I had nightmares all week through!

  • Hero of Geeks

    I'm ashamed of myself! I should have known this day was coming, should have made a parade float, finished a new chapter to post or dressed up and paraded about the office despite my boss' insistence that a green tunic wasn't within the dress code.

    Instead, I promise you, Zelda, that I will not rest until you are saved from Ganon, that evil piggy monster, one more time. The Triforce of Wisdom shall be whole once again! May the way of the hero lead to the Triforce!

  • Pete359

    I have the whole year planned out, I will play all the main Zelda games this year (started last month). Games will be spread over each of the months.

    January – LoZ & AoL [done]
    February – LttP & LA DX [almost done]
    March – OoT
    April – MM
    May – OoA, OoS & FS/A
    June – WW, MC
    July – PH, ST
    August – TP

    Hopefully by September OoT 3D is out then Skyward Sword following shortly! 2011 is the Year of Zelda! Wooo!

    • mcdude910

      I'm pretty sure they will be out in June.

  • anonymouse

    Why is the 25th anniversary so special an not the 24th or 26th? the 26th should be just as special