25 Years of Zelda in 25 Days - 2011

A lot has happened this year. Nintendo has celebrated anniversaries in the past, but I think it’s safe to say that what they’ve done for the Legend of Zelda outshines anything else they’ve ever done. Better yet, this year won’t be the end of the festivities. The Legend of Zelda concert series will be going on tour next year.

Looking back at this year there has been no shortage of events celebrating the anniversary of this incredible series.

Ocarina of Time: Better than Ever

We could argue forever about whether or not the Nintendo 3DS is doing well and why that is the case. Regardless of how you feel about the Nintendo 3DS, I think everyone agrees that Ocarina of Time 3D looks fantastic running on the platform.

I’ve only had a few brief opportunities to play the new version of Ocarina of Time, but each time I have played the game, I felt like it was 1998 all over again. The game plays just as well as it did 13 years ago, and the game looks absolutely gorgeous.

Playing through the game again with the updated visuals is a trip down memory lane for me and many other players as well. The game is full of iconic moments and seeing them again is absolutely stunning.

One of my favorite moments from Ocarina of Time is when Link first opens the Door of Time and retrieves the Master Sword. In 1998, the moment was nostalgic because it immediately made me think back to 1994 when I first played A Link to the Past and retrieved the Master Sword in the Lost Woods. In 2011, that same event makes me remember 1998.

How many other video games can do that?

Awakening a New Generation

Like Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening brings back countless memories of my childhood. It was the second Legend of Zelda game I had the honor of playing, and it remains one of my favorite entries in the series.

I spent hours playing this game, but oddly I have not completed the entire game more than 5 times. Instead, I remember making new files regularly, and I know the first five dungeons like the back of my hand.

Unfortunately, nowadays Link’s Awakening is much harder to get your hands on than Ocarina of Time and some of the other better-known entries in the series. Thankfully, Nintendo finally made this masterpiece available again this year as a downloadable title for the Nintendo 3DS.

The only catch is that the Nintendo 3DS hasn’t exactly taken off as well as its predecessors. If you do have a Nintendo 3DS and you do not have Link’s Awakening I highly recommend that you pick up the game as soon as possible (though at this point you might wait until you’re done with Skyward Sword!). It may have been the first handheld Legend of Zelda game, but it is still one of the best and most memorable games in the series.

Four Swords For All!

I’ve already discussed in detail how I felt about Four Swords when it was originally released in the other articles I have written. Simply put, it was a great game but it was impossible to play and that irritated me like nothing else could. In some ways, not being able to play Four Swords alone made me hate the game.

That all changed back in September. Nintendo released Four Swords: Anniversary Edition for Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS as a free download. It includes the entire original game plus a significant amount of new content. Even better, the game includes a brand new single-player mode.

Since it’s release, I have spent a great amount of time playing the randomly generated dungeons in Four Swords: Anniversary Edition. I have yet to play the game with a second player. Instead, I play the game alone and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It really is a great Legend of Zelda game, and it’s a shame we had to wait so long to really play it.

Four Swords: Anniversary Edition is only available as a free download until February 2012. At that time, the game will either disappear forever or have a price attached to it (Nintendo hasn’t been very clear about what will happen after the deadline is reached.) I really hope the game remains available even if they add a price. It’s a great game that every Legend of Zelda fan deserves to experience.

Looking Skyward

At this point, there’s a good chance at least some of you have your very own copy of Skyward Sword. The rest of us will have to wait just a little longer to get our hands on the game.

Skyward Sword is the climax of this year of celebration. It’s the event we’ve all been waiting for and I don’t expect it to disappoint.

Based on the information we already knew without playing the game, it’s clear that this is the biggest project Nintendo has ever worked on. More importantly, Skyward Sword is full of fan service of every kind. There are small throwbacks like dungeons being located underground (as they were in The Legend of Zelda), and there are larger highly anticipated features like the creation of the legendary Master Sword.

The developers have been careful to not call Skyward Sword the “first” Legend of Zelda game, but we know that for the moment it really is the first game in the timeline. Personally, I think it’s likely that Skyward Sword will remain the first game in the timeline for quite some time (Nintendo just wants to leave their options open).

Skyward Sword’s position on the timeline may seem insignificant at first, but because of the timing it is actually extremely important. 25 years ago, countless gamers experienced The Legend of Zelda for the first time. Those players were introduced to Link, Princess Zelda, Ganon, and the Triforce and many of them are still fans of the series to this day. Now, 25 years later, we’re finally seeing the game that started it all.

Sure, Nintendo could decide several years from now that something else happened before Skyward Sword, but that doesn’t make the events of the game any less significant. Nothing they design in the next 5-10 years could replace the legend that was built over 25 years. How do you replace the significance of the Master Sword, Triforce, and Ganon in such a short amount of time?

Skyward Sword could be one of the most important Legend of Zelda games ever released. Some of you are already experiencing that, and the rest of us will join you soon enough.

25 Years is a Long Time

The Legend of Zelda has been a part of my life for 17 years. There are few things have been a part of my life longer. When I first played through A Link to the Past there was a phrase coined in the game that stuck with me and inspired my young self. It’s become a little overused since the advent of our amazing online community, but I think it is a fitting end to this article nonetheless. May it inspire you as you journey through Skyward Sword and the next 25 years.

“May the way of the Hero lead to the Triforce.”