I've had a hard time making progress in Zelda these last days, mainly because I didn't have a lot of free time to play. This game is hard! I'm starting to wonder if I'm not growing old. I beat this game when I was seven, dammit! Here, I'm only half the game and I already died 15 times! This game has a "shame meter" on the save screen, telling you (and your friends) how many times you've died in the course of your adventure, which is great for replay value, by the way...
|3 hearts, 9 deaths : shaaaaaaaame!|
It's not like the NES games were totally innocents of these kind of mazes. I can't remember how many games had at least one of them in their course. It was something contemporary game design thankfully made disappear during the nineties (with a few exceptions). But there is no way a 1986 game could have worked around, right?
Wrong! There is an old lady, near the maze, ready to give you the directions for a fee of 30 rupees (if you give her more, she just tells you "Boy, you are rich!", which is quite infuriating and makes you regret you can't slay NPCs in this game). But, wait, there is more : if you wander a bit, you'll get the power bracelet in Doom Mountain, which allows you to find the "teleport stones" dispatched through the realm, which then gives you another way around the maze.
Two solutions for one problem in a 1986 console adventure game? Ok, guys, The Legend of Zelda is definitely a Game Design lesson every game designer should have followed. In my memory, the game was really sparse on hints, but if you wander a bit, there is often an old bearded guy or an old woman (Hyrule in this game is the equivalent of a nursing home) ready to tell you a lot. I mean, you can get stuck, but there is a lot of times where you can get around your problem, or find some hint about it.
|So sorry to have doubted you, Sir, it won't happen again (well, maybe in Zelda II...)|
Another thing that's kind of crazy for a 1986 game is the "stability" of graphics. The NES has an infamous history of slowing down or turning into a stroke-inducing flickering fest as soon as it has to show more than five sprites in the same screen, and Zelda is really stable in this area. It starts to slow down when Link is in the same room than twelve sword-throwing centaurs, but flickering is kept to a minimal. As usual, Nintendo is more at ease to make magic on their consoles than the majority of third-party developers. It's a pattern we even see today, notably in the 3D effect in a lot of 3DS games.
Back to the game, I'm now in the sixth dungeon. I've got a lot of hearts, a healing potion, the power bracelet, the second sword, but I'm having a hard time with enemies here. I think I'm gonna have to grind for money in order to buy the blue ring, which halves the damage dealt by enemies. It's really expensive, but considering any foe encountered can kill me in a few hits, I think it's mandatory.
|Sometimes I wonder if this "princess" is really worth the trouble...|