Every fan of The Legend of Zelda has accumulated countless memories while playing through each game. Sometimes, your memories simply allow you to play through the game a second time without having as much trouble, but other times your memories highlight special event that you will never forget. Perhaps you will never forget playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the first time and seeing Hyrule come to life in 3D. Your favorite memory could simply be the first time you played a Legend of Zelda game.

Memories of Zelda is a discussion about those special moments. I’ll be sharing stories from my past, and I invite you to share your own stories in the comments.

As the beginning of this feature, I thought it would be best to start at the beginning. My first encounter with The Legend of Zelda was in 1995, and I had the privilege of playing one of the greatest games ever made: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

In 1995, I was the proud owner of a brand new Super Nintendo, and found myself in a pawn shop with my father and brother. I do not recall what we were there for, but I know that we left with new video games. My father allowed my brother and I to each pick out a game from the small selection of used games they had at the store. My brother selected a wonderful game: Star Fox. If you haven’t played the original Star Fox, I highly recommend you find a way to check it out (unfortunately, it hasn’t found its way on to the Virtual Console). Star Fox is fantastic, but I left with something even better: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Quite possibly the hardest puzzle in A Link to the Past.

At the time, we were fairly young and my father tended to test out the video games before we played them. So, it was actually a few days before I played A Link to the Past myself, but I remember intently watching and trying to figure out just how in the world we were supposed to get inside the castle. My father eventually gave up trying, and I was also clueless. We had not found a single enemy, and A Link to the Past was already proving to be a difficult game.

Fortunately, we knew a young woman who also owned the game, and she was kind enough to draw us a simple map of how to enter the castle. The secret passage into Hyrule Castle is one video game secret I will never forget.

Once we learned the way into the castle, my father promptly began infiltrating Hyrule Castle as I watched. He eventually came face-to-face with the Ball and Chain Trooper and was quickly killed. At this point, I was finally given the chance to play the game myself.

After creating a new file of my own, I re-located the secret passage into Hyrule Castle and began my own adventure to save Princess Zelda. Today, I know Hyrule Castle as if it were a real place. If asked, I can recite exactly how to reach Princess Zelda from Link’s house or any point in-between, but seventeen years ago I was clumsily wandering around the castle trying to find the princess for the first time.

I did eventually find my way to what had to be the hardest enemy in the game: the Ball and Chain Trooper. Along the way I found a really awesome blue boomerang, but it didn’t seem to work against this boss.  I died multiple times before accidently finding the solution to my problem.

This extremely difficult enemy had one weakness: pots.

Quite possibly the hardest boss in A Link to the Past.

At some point, I realized that the pots in the empty prison cell contained hearts, and in anger I threw the pot at the Ball and Chain Trooper expecting nothing to happen (aside from having a laugh). To my surprise, my attack was super effective! A second pot ended his existence and the princess was saved!

After playing through the entire game multiple times, I’ve learned the “real way” to defeat the Ball and Chain Trooper (trust me, pots are faster and easier) and encountered far more difficult challenges, but I am reminded of my experiences every time I begin to play the game again. A Link to the Past is full of memorable moments, but Hyrule Castle is iconic for me. The music, the layout, the enemies, and saving the princess; I’ll never forget the first time I infiltrated Hyrule Castle.

What was your first experience with The Legend of Zelda?