Today, through a memory of mine, I want to address an issue that I’m sure is close to the wounded hearts of Zelda fans the world over. It’s a one of those “firsts” we have all undoubtedly shared; and in many cases, a terrifying first brought on at the hands of someone we thought we could trust — a friend, a loved one, perhaps even a parent or guardian.

I implore you, dear reader — read on and share my anguish, for I know I am not alone.

I’ll sift back through the sands of time and brush off the memory of my first playthrough of A Link to the Past, my first ever Zelda experience and one that I hold dear to this day, despite the betrayal I came to suffer. A friend had loaned me his copy of the game and I was loving every minute of it — I’d never played a game like it. It was my first experience of a game with a true sense of adventure and where a pivotal story, rather than in-game mechanics, drove the action. I was (significantly) younger then than I am now and not as well versed in the ways of gaming, or sadly, the ways of life, and the inevitability of disloyalty.

I remember I had fumbled my way through a series of battles and shuffled my way into Kakariko Village; whilst I had only a lone heart left I was keen to get back into battle. I was cautious about chopping down bushes to look for hearts — I was an impetuous and hasty youth, prone to standing on mines or walking into a newly revealed enemy — so I headed in search of a few pots to smash. Unbeknownst to me, a cold deception was about to befall me.

My friend, a seasoned Zelda player, was watching from the couch and offered a piece of advice — one that would come to fill me with dread just a few short moments later.

“Just keep hitting the chickens; you know they give you three hearts, right?”

So off I went, dear reader, as so many of us have upon the orders of a trusted companion; I hammered that B button and swiped at the innocent Cucco sprite over and over again.

And that, of course, was when the inevitable happened.

I share this experience with you now because I want to break the cycle. I want to end the pain.

A swarm of vengeful, 16-bit poultry swarmed the screen, clucking relentlessly and pecking at me with a fury I could not have anticipated. It didn’t take them long to exact their revenge. My lifeless body lay face down at the centre of the screen and I was faced with the cold reality of the “Game Over” screen; my ears ringing with the sound of my so-called “friend” cackling maniacally from across the room.

It took me a long time to come to terms with what happened that afternoon, but eventually, with time, the pain dulled. I even thought that the need for retribution had burned out; but alas, I am but a man and am now ashamed to say that eventually, I too perpetuated this evil.

A few years later, sitting alongside my young nephew and watching him play Link’s Awakening on the Super Game Boy, I saw that he was running low on hearts. A dark grin spread across my face, seeing a chance to finally right the wrong heaped upon me all those years ago. I leant over and without an ounce of remorse stated, “If you keep hitting that chicken it’ll give you three hearts”

He cried.

His mother, my sister, was furious, and I suffered a great deal of earache and a loss of pocket money as a result.

I’ve spoken to many Zelda fans since that fateful day and have heard so many similar stories from far and wide. It’s like a disease — a curse even — that sweeps the fandom like a long and dark shadow cast by the very Triforce itself. I share this experience with you now because I want to break the cycle. I want to end the pain.

I hope, dear friends, that my words and The Flight of the Cuccos can teach you the valuable life lessons that I took all too long to learn: that you shouldn’t always believe everything you’re told; that taking your frustrations out on others only keeps a cycle of negativity going; and that you should never, ever, try to be a big shot and pick on those seemingly weaker than you, because I can guarantee that they will definitely have more friends than you and they’ll all crash the party.

  • Stefan

    oh how easily we could apply this to life, but alas, a joyful cynicism burns within each of us, I think. perhaps that is the cause of our petty transgressions toward others? at any rate, I continue to be delighted at how effectively fandoms erase the superficial barriers that divide the masses and unite each other for the sake of discovering the true difference in peoples’ psyche: RPG vs. MOBA. Loved the article. Best wishes. XD