So, onto The Legend of Zelda rating. It was really hard to rate it and I'd like to emphasize on two things before getting started :
-The comparison between Resident Evil and The Legend of Zelda is unavoidable (after all, the two games are graded on the same scale) but ultimately pointless. The COWARD scale works (well I hope it does) for comparing different games in a same series, not for different ones. I wouldn't dare to say that The Legend of Zelda is better or worse than Resident Evil. They're two really different experiences, both well worth your time.
-The COWARD system only implies what I feel about the game I've just played, and how I rate the experience I had for the last few days/weeks. It's not a "review" of any sort, and it's only my point of view, I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to think this as an objective rating.
Hum. Now that it's settled, I hope I'll be avoiding the wrath of the many Zelda fans out there while trying to rate these games...
|Yeah, now that I think about it, this acronym works pretty well...|
C for Cleverness
No doubt that The Legend of Zelda is a pretty clever game. It lets you loose in a huge gameworld, while simultaneously giving you enough clues to avoid getting you stuck (well, most of the time). The feeling of discovery is overwhelming and makes finding a secret entrance or item really rewarding. The heart containers mechanic (which still holds in Zelda games today, even if it's in the more refined "heart quarters" mechanic) is excellent and makes for a suitable character evolution. Try tackling the last dungeons with three hearts and you'll know what I mean. The otherworld is greatly done, full of little mysteries, and rewards for the more attentive players. However, in the meantime, I have to address my biggest concern with the game : It over-emphasize combat. Progress in the dungeon nearly always mean get in a room, wipe everybody out, than maybe push a block, get in the next room, repeat. Granted, the formula evolves during the game, notably with the dungeons layouts becoming more and more complicated, but the process is often the same : enter, kill, push block/bomb wall, exit. Starting with Zelda III, the series will be known for its excellent dungeons full of traps and puzzles, but it's yet to appear here. So it's a 6 for me.
Rating : 6
O for Originality
If you put back The Legend of Zelda in the context of its release year, the risk taken by the Nintendo teams is huge. The game is, in my opinion, one of the major milestones of the evolution of console gaming. Simple arcade games were the norm back then, and Miyamoto and his team really made things change by showing everybody that great adventures were possible to make on these consoles. Granted, it took inspiration from the Ultima games, but it refined the formula to make it more action-oriented, hence more akin to what console gamers were waiting for. If I don't reward this game in this category, it would be meaningless.
Rating : 8
|Save battery was great too, because the alternative was not sexy...|
W for Writing
Not much to say here, I'm afraid. The land of Hyrule is a huge desert, with only a bunch of old fellas concealing themselves in caves or the occasional merchant. It was the norm in NES games, but we're far from Zelda II, Final Fantasy or even Dragon Quest, which was released the same year.
Rating : 1
A for Appeal
The graphics are clean, sharp, and, as I've mentioned in a post, pretty stable. The slowdowns and flickering are minimal and it's a bit of a exception for this game console. The different areas of Hyrule are well-defined, and the ambiance is really different between the forests, the mountains or the cemetery. For an early NES game, Zelda is quite a nice feat and a good example of what this console was capable of doing. The music needs no introduction too. If you forget about the introduction and conclusion, that you'll not hear for more than a minute, it holds only on three major themes (otherworld, dungeon, and the creepy music for Ganon's hideout), and you never get tired of it. A lot of contemporary game composers could learn a lot from that.
Rating : 7
R for Reaction
The game is easy to control and almost always fair. I have a little concern about a few enemies (namely the Knights who change direction when you try to take a hit at them, and the Wizzrobes who can be a mess to fight) but, hey, they are supposed to be hard to kill. I was about to give a 5 to this category, then I remembered you could control the boomerang in a natural way that a lot of games were only dreaming to approach. So it's a 6 here too.
Rating : 6
D for Delicacy
I don't deny I had a great time with this game. Like a lot of masterpieces, it's better than the sum of its parts, and even with the repetitive dungeons structure, tedious money-grinding and occasional frustrating death, it's still a pleasure to play through. However, comparing to the later Zelda games, it lacks a bit in a few categories, notably in the fact that the game is, at its core, a huge fetch quest. It was a really tough grade to make. I'll go for a above-average mark, which is the sign I had a lot of pleasure playing through it, but that there's a lot of room for improvement.
Rating : 6
FINAL COWARD RATING : 57
Ok, there, I've done it, I've put my rating on this game, please don't kill me. I was expecting a bit more, but overall I'm satisfied with this grade. It leaves a lot of room for superior games in the series and won't lead to A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time going through the roof of the rating system. On the other side, it shows that, even today, 25 long years, it still holds up as a great game to play.
Now, I'll be moving on to the first game I haven't thoroughly played in my game list. I've only played Legacy of Kain a couple of hours in the past, and I'm quite curious to see a game series that is hold in good esteem and that I've never really experienced. It will be a good thing because I've played Resident Evil 2 and Zelda II maybe a thousand times each, so I'm glad to play something I don't know before that...