The Zelda CD-i games get a bad reputation on the internet. Fans and critics alike deride the games for their seemingly poor gameplay, ugly and washed-out graphics, and for poor voice acting. Even Nintendo themselves have tried to forget that the games exist. But the critics of the game are wrong — the games are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. And I’m not just saying this — many contemporary critics praised the games. Though the games may have issues, they are by no means the horrible mess that many people claim the games to be. Still think I’m nuts? Hit the jump to read more about what critics thought of the games!
At the time of the releases of The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon, the contemporary opinions of the games by critics was fairly positive. SNES Force Magazine called the two-minute animated introduction to the games “breathtaking,” and that “the sound and speech are also brilliant.” The magazine went on to praise the high-resolution backdrops, calling the game’s graphics “superb.” Joystick magazine, a part of the French video game press, echoed these statements for a development preview of the game, and in particular described The Faces of Evil as a veritable arcade-quality game with “perfect animation.” This same magazine would go on to give The Faces of Evil a 79% rating, citing the music, sound effects, and play time as strong points for the game. The Wand of Gamelon was met with similar praise. CDi Magazine (there was a magazine for everything in the 90s!) gave the game a 75% score, and stated that the game was reasonably good. The puzzles and animated sequences of the game were given praise in particular. The music of both games has been noted for blending instruments like the electric guitar, marimbas, and other unusual instruments to create a unique sound.
Ok, but so what if contemporary game critics gave the games positive reviews? Opinions of games change over time, and in retrospect, the game may indeed be terrible, right? Well, there have been modern critics who have given the game considerable praise. Video game writers Danny Cowan of 1up and John Szczepaniak both believe that The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon are among the best games released for the CD-i. In Issue 27 of Retro Gaming Magazine, Szczepankiak in particular suggested that many gaming publications that gave both games low scores without even having played the game themselves. Furthermore, he also argues that the CD-i games were unfairly compared to past games in the series, and believes that in their own right, the games are well done. The graphics have been another point of praise by modern critics, and many of them view the game’s art style to be very Monet-esque. Though critics generally agree that both games had poor controls, the games themselves were hardly a disaster and unplayable.
So there you have it, the CD-i games aren’t the worst possible games to ever be released. A lot of the people that criticize the games haven’t played the games, and are basing their perception on what other people have written about it. Contemporary and modern critics agree that the overall, The Wand of Gamelon and The Faces of Evil were good games, with many elements of both games being well done. Do the games have flaws? Sure, but the game’s aren’t as bad as the internet paints them to be.
And yes, I know I did not include Zelda’s Adventure in the discussion above. That’s because the game genuinely was absolutely awful. Even Szczepankiak , a starch defender of the other two games, called the game out for being absolutely terrible. But still, the other two CD-i games aren’t too bad. If you can afford to grab a CD-i and one of the games, be sure to check them out for yourselves.