Before my family owned the Nintendo 64, my only exposure to the Zelda series was through A Link to the Past. As a six-year-old kid, I lacked the bravery required to venture through my own save file, instead deciding to play with my father’s completed adventure. After selecting his file, I started out on top of a golden pyramid. My eyes fell on the sky, the purple and red colors created a bleak look, which evoked feelings of hopelessness. I wondered how the world could have fallen to this depressing state. I also saw a large hole next to me and decided to jump down — bad move. I found a blue pig monster, Ganon, facing me. He kept pushing me off the edge and I gave up and reset the system.

Avoiding the big hole, I walked down to the foot of the pyramid and met a few Hinoxes and Moblins. Dodging spears and bombs, I rushed to find safety only to find Octoroks spitting rocks. I stopped running and pulled out my sword. My dad had already found the best equipment in the game so I was already equipped with the fully upgraded Master Sword, a bulky golden shield, and the strongest tunic in the game. I began to confidently defeat enemies and eventually started traveling around Hyrule, which was overrun by darkness. After being worn down by hordes of enemies, I entered Skull Woods. The evil forest always stood out to me because of the strange design. My six-year-old mind wondered why the logs in the forest turned into rib cages.

As a kid, I never played through my own save file for A Link to the Past, and instead occasionally played my father’s file. As time passed, I played through Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and Wind Waker. Those three games cemented my deep love for the Zelda series while A Link to the Past gathered dust in the background. Around the start of my college years, I finally decided to start my own playthrough of A Link to the Past. I played through to the final dungeon, Ganon’s Castle, but the unthinkable happened. My save file disappeared, delaying me another few years.

I played the game on and off, never actually getting to the end and always stopping because of some type of life interference. Last year, with my used “New” Nintendo 3DS in my hands, I told myself enough is enough, it was time to beat this game. I had pretty much done everything in the game except beat Ganon’s Tower. I defeated Ganon on my Dad’s file and had previously journeyed through the game up to this one final dungeon. Now, this time, I would finally beat the game in one save file.

The game immediately engrossed me and I quickly beat all the dungeons and found as many secrets as possible. I found every upgrade, Heart Piece, and even made sure to sprinkle a little magic dust in a certain bat’s cave. Eventually, I arrived at Ganon’s Tower. This dungeon’s basement area is a confusing maze that frustrated me to no end. Getting lost in this section of the dungeon is guaranteed for a newcomer. After some reasonable frustration, I completed the basement area and began to make my way towards the top of the tower.

Eventually, I met Agahnim at the top and tried to beat him with the bug net, failing miserably. I had trouble bouncing his attacks with the net because I lacked good timing. Before I came close to death, I switched to the sword and beat him within a few feet of his life. Then my chance to defeat Ganon on my own merits arrived. I defeated him within an inch of his life. After watching Ganon explode, a feeling of accomplishment drove over me. After 17 years, I finally completed the game on my own terms. The end scene, despite its brevity, felt earned. Link finally saved Hyrule and I finally finished A Link to the Past.