With the plethora of games that are currently in the market, it can be difficult for a game to stand out and endure in a rapidly changing landscape. One of the games that has truly made its mark is The Legend of Zelda.
The franchise is going strong up to this day, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild selling 25 million copies and earning the number one spot of IGN’s list of best games. One may ask, then, what makes this series special? Here’s what gives the game its legendary status.
An Expansive Experience
On surface level, the concept behind The Legend of Zelda is simple: you play a character, Link, and fight evil in order to save the princess and, ultimately, Hyrule, the kingdom on which this game is set.
This format is generic, as it is the template of many other games, too. However, what makes Legend of Zelda unique is the complexity of its underlying lore, which includes non-linear events, several time-travels, among many other features that make it enjoyable and challenging.
Another thing that sets Legend of Zelda apart from other games is its interactivity. The game hinges itself on how you, as the player, decide to insert yourself in the narrative.
The game progresses not only because you reach a specific waypoint or trigger an event; it all boils down to the choices that you make. In case you get lost along the way, there is also a solid community as well as some guides that can help you through the game.
First in the Field
Aside from its inherent qualities, the game also changed the gaming industry as a whole. For example, it may seem unthinkable to new players now, but before The Legend of Zelda, you cannot save your progress in a game.
By introducing the save feature in The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo changed the way gaming is done. This saving ability was built into the internal battery-powered RAM chip of the cartridge, and this allowed players to explore the game at their own pace and truly immerse themselves in the story.
Furthermore, The Legend of Zelda pioneered the open world genre. Before the game was introduced, most games required players to simply go from point A to point B.
With the open world genre, players are given the freedom to explore various areas in the game in the order that they choose. These are just two of the many examples of the tangible impacts the series has on the gaming industry as a whole.
It Evokes Nostalgia
Technical stuff aside, what makes The Legend of Zelda such an enduring classic is the fact that it creates balance between staying true to its roots and introducing innovations. Over the years, Zelda’s overarching storyline, along with the dungeon exploration and character building elements, have remained almost the same.
However, it’s the experience within the game that changes every time. Each installment of this series introduces new starting points for Link, a new twist to the story, new characters, and new villains. This subtle balance allows The Legend of Zelda to connect to both old and new players alike.
By introducing innovations while staying true to its core storyline, the game expertly capitalizes on nostalgia, too. Many adult gamers today consider The Legend of Zelda as the game that defined their childhood.
Through the new features previously mentioned, it introduced them to bigger worlds where protagonists, who were also children at that point, were made to face and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, and this is something that they carried even as they discovered newer games.
At the end of the day, it is difficult to pinpoint what makes a game good. However, given that it is still going strong today and how, decades after its release, both old and new players still find joy in immersing themselves into this game, it is undeniable that The Legend of Zelda is indeed a legendary game.