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.

CD-I Zelda Review

See, I told you I wasn’t making this up!

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.

  • Matthew Mansi

    You do realise ponies can have opinions, right?

  • Rudd

    I have played Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon in an emulator and they were surprisingly fun, deep and addictive despite the awful cutscenes and gameplay and engine quirks. In fact I enjoyed them more than Zelda II, as at least the CDi games were beatable and didn’t require lots of grinding. I chalk up all the hate they get to people being either mindless banwagon-jumping drones or butthurt Zelda/Nintendo fanboys.

    • Billy Pariseau

      Dude, u played an emulator. The reason it was good to you was because emulators are usually different controls and have revamped coding to match the console or device. Play them on the original console, then you’ll see.

      • Эдик Зыков

        Well, I played on the original console and it’s probably the best way to play both Zelda CD-i games, if you have a right controller. As far as I know, the CD-i emulator doesn’t play the music correctly, and the music is the best thing about Zeldsa CD-i, btw. So, what was your point, again?

  • Epicfallord

    Flaws include canon errors and absurd difficulty variation during bosses. The final boss of both games were basically the same, and they both sucked due to only being like 10 seconds long and not requiring any real skill to beat.

  • True Davad

    I haven’t played them myself so I admit that for all I know they could have been great games. I don’t consider them true Zelda Games, Nintendo didn’t even make them. That doesn’t mean they were bad though. They may be considered side games as though Nintendo didn’t make them they were sanctioned by Nintendo. Anyway I can consider the idea that CD-I games were actually good plausible just because I didn’t play them. Popularity and quality are two different things after all. I have played great games that were unpopular.

  • death

    Well, the controls and collisions are broken, the games are tedious, and you can’t jump when you are close to the top of the screen. I know he’s over the top, but the Angry Video Game Nerd actually makes a lot of valid points on these games. Perhaps they aren’t the worst things in the world, but they are pretty bad.

    • Sora

      I never even hear about those games and I already hear people saying that the game play is horrible.I watched anger video game nerd too and seen how bad the whole game is.

  • Jarkes

    It just occurred to me that the Zelda and Mario Cd-i games are so infamous, that I have absolutely no idea what other games the console had. Does anyone know where I can find a list?

  • silly critics

  • Shona

    I love the “What next? Mario on CD-i?” thought at the end of the article in the picture, hahahaha! Interesting that Nintendo’s failed partnership with Philips wasn’t common knowledge at the time (at least to the magazine).

  • Parker

    Were… were those reviews released on April 1st of some year?

  • STV

    I tried these and they are not as horrible as everyone say but they are meh for their time. Of course if you compare them with the other Zelda games (like most people do) they are a piece of crap.

    I wonder, Nintendo release ALTTP in 1991 (awesome game), then these games came up on 1993 and Nintendo regreted lending the IP. It took them 7 years and revive the Zelda franchize with the best game of all time.
    No wonder they are so reluctant to let others use their IPs now…

  • Ruin

    Most of the people hating on the games never played them and are just jumping the bandwagon.

  • Anthony Moseley

    Oh hey, it’s people who different opinions than the majority, let’s criticize them!