Well exxxxxccuuuuusssssseeee me princess! Geek Dave fights for Hyrule...
1. Although the US and European NES versions of The Legend Of Zelda arrived in 1987, the game arrived a year early in Japan, where it was actually produced to be the big launch title for Nintendo's Famicon Disk System.
Disk System was an upgraded version of the basic console, which used rewritable floppy disks. Nintendo really wanted a launch title that took advantage of that capability, and so Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto set about designing a dungeon creation game. Simply put you could create your own dungeons, fill them with 'enemies', save your designs to disk and share them with your friends.
As development progressed Miyamoto decided that his team could create much better designs and more challenging dungeons than any regular gamer could, so the whole do it yourself aspect of the game was dropped.
2. Even though the rewritable disk was not taken advantage of, another unique aspect of the Famicom was utilised in The Legend Of Zelda. Unlike the NES controllers the Famicom ones were hard wired into the machine itself and had built in volume control and microphone.
In the original Japanese version of the game, the rabbity looking enemy Pols
...could be instantly killed by making noise near the microphone. As the NES didn't have this ability that game was adapted to make Pols Voice vulnerable to arrows instead. However, when the manual was put together it was originally just translated from Japanese into English, and so the hint that Pols Voice hated
noise remained. Leading to some Western gamers whistling at their TV sets in confusion!
3. As mentioned in 10 things you might not know about Super Mario Bros, Shigeru Miyamoto was developing The Legend Of Zelda at the same time as that side scrolling classic, and the two games shared several elements. So as well as Zelda's firebars appearing in Mario, Mario's piranha plant enemies were renamed Manhandla and included in Zelda.
4. So this is something you may have suspected anyway, but Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed that he based the character of Link on Walt Disney's version of Peter Pan...
Miyamoto also revealed that he based Zelda on a real life Zelda. That would be Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F.Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby. As well as thinking the name Zelda sounded cool, Miyamoto wanted the princess to have
a mysterious, unobtainable, alluring quality and thought Zelda
Fitzgerald was the perfect inspiration.
5. Whilst we're on the subject of Zelda, have you ever thought that The Legend Of Zelda is a bit of a strange title for the game? After all, what exactly does Zelda do in the game? It's like calling Super Mario Bros. The Legend Of Princess Toadstool.
Again, this is down to something being lost in translation...
The original Japanese game was titled The Hyrule Fantasy, with Legend Of Zelda being used as a subtitle. Somehow that made its way to top billing for the US release, possibly because it sounded more mysterious, or maybe because the Nintendo US employee had no idea what he was doing. Either way, a 'legend' was born.
6. Every dungeon in The Legend of Zelda has a name, and when you look at them mapped out they have been designed to form the shape resembling their name. That one above is The Eagle, you'll also find that The Lion looks like a lion, and The Lizard looks like a lizard, etc etc.
There's also a dungeon called The Manji, and it looks like this...
No, it's not a swastika. There are no hidden Nazi messages in The Legend Of Zelda. The Manji is a reverse facing swastika which, as a symbol, represents wealth and good fortune in Japan. Honest!
7. The Legend Of Zelda theme is one of the most recognisable pieces of in-game music around, but originally Nintendo were planning on using 'free' classical stock music. Whilst in development Ravel's Bolero accompanied Link on his quest through Hyrule, but at the absolute last minute it was discovered that Bolero was still under copyright. In stepped Koji Kondo
who had just finished his score for Super Mario Bros. He was given just one day to write a suitable tune for Zelda - he came up with Overworld, and had time to spare!
8. Another of the advantages of developing a game for the Famicom Disk System was that the programmers had more room to work with. So after completing The Legend Of Zelda, Miyamoto and his team realised they had room to spare on the disk and not wanting to waste it they quickly created an entire Second Quest. This wasn't just a regular harder mode, that likes of which many other games presented, this was a whole new adventure with new dungeons. The first five dungeon maps spelled out Zelda...
To access the Second Quest you had to complete the first one, but it's also possible to skip straight to it. Just enter your character's name as ZELDA...
...and the Second Quest is yours for the playing!
9. As well as being the launch game for Nintendo's Famicom Disk System, The Legend Of Zelda was revived in 1995 for another of Nintendo's ahead-of-it's-time ideas. If you live outside of Japan then chances are you may not have heard of Satellaview. This was a very early satellite modem which connected to the Super Nintendo. With it you could both download and stream games, and yes we're talking 1995!
Nintendo experimented with 'live broadcast gaming', essentially it was a bit like a TV show where you had to tune in to watch/play and when the scheduled time of the show/game was over it stopped. To launch this they developed a new remixed 16-bit version of The Legend Of Zelda, called BS The Legend Of Zelda...
...in case you're wondering the BS stood for Broadcast Satellite, and not what you're thinking!
The game had a real-time clock and new plot, and was really event style gaming. And yes, it was 1995!!!!!! Why, oh why do the Japanese get all the cool gadgets?
10. Let's take things back to basics to finish up with. A fully playable early version of The Legend Of Zelda leaked online several years back. It contains many differences to the finished version, overall it's much easier with money simple to locate and tough enemies appearing a
lot less frequently. And best of all, you can check it out for yourself by downloading it here.
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