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GO FIND THE "8" UNITS "LINK" TO SAVE HER.
The original Legend of Zelda was a top-down Action Adventure Hack and Slash, with a very nonlinear setup. Originally the first game to be released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, in North America and Europe, it was the first game for the Nintendo Entertainment System to use a battery-backed save feature, and was released, as a gimmick, in a gold cartridge rather than standard gray.
Both the original adventure and the "second quest" would eventually be remade as BS-Zelda, an enhanced version for a satellite-based Super Famicom add-on, and the game was also re-released five times afterwards: as a hidden NES game (which only ended up being available through hacking) in Animal Crossing, on the Collector's Edition bonus disc, as a part of the Game Boy Advance Classic NES Series, on the Virtual Console, and as part of the 3DS Ambassador Program. It is also present on Super Smash Bros. Brawl as unlockable content, one of the "classic games" made available by completing a specific challenge; however, once the game is started, the player only has a limited amount of time to 'sample' the gameplay.
The story, as told through an Engrish-filled opening title scroll (though revised in the Collector's Edition, GBA rereleases, and Wii Virtual Console; all based on the Japanese cartridge re-release), is that the evil Ganon had stolen the Triforce of Power, and captured Princess Zelda, holder of the Triforce of Wisdom. However, to keep the Triforce from falling into Ganon's hands she had split it into 8 pieces and hid them in the eight dungeons across Hyrule. Link, the hero, must gather the 8 pieces, allowing him to enter Ganon's lair, defeat him, claim the Triforce of Power, and Save the Princess. Unlike the later games, there was little character interaction other than the vague hints given by various old men, and not much in the way of side-quests. There weren't even Pieces of Heart - instead, full Heart Containers were found around the map.
Not to be confused with Zelda Classic.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Especially bad since you can only hold 255 rupees in this game, and it takes some serious exploring to find the best deal on the magic shield.
- Not to mention the Blue Ring costs 250 rupees. Granted, it is an arguably more optional item than even the magic shield.
- On top of that, your nice, expensive Magic Shield was nastily prone to being eaten by Like Likes, monsters that resemble a pile of evil pancakes.
- Affectionate Parody: The Legend of Neil.
- Animated Adaptation: The cartoon was primarily based on this, with elements of Zelda II the Adventure of Link.
- Bat Out of Hell: Vire and Keese.
- Blackout Basement: Starts and is most prevalent in Level 4 of the first quest, where nearly every room is pitch black. However, Level 5 is a close runner-up. In later dungeons it becomes more of a random gimmick.
- Blind Idiot Translation: To the point that it actually severely increases the difficulty of the game. To name perhaps the most infamous example, a message revealing the location of the Magic Key in the first quest's eighth dungeon got rendered as "10th enemy has the bomb". Needless to say, a lot of the trial-and-error aspects of the game would have been averted if the messages had been rendered properly, and indeed Japanese speakers who played the Japanese version have traditionally cited the enemies as being the primary reason for the game's Nintendo Hard difficulty, rather than the difficulty of finding dungeon entrances and hidden treasures.
- Bold Inflation: The intro scroll.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Darknuts.
- Classic Cheat Code: Naming your saved game ZELDA (or at least starting the name with ZELDA) starts you off on the second quest.
- Pressing Up+ A on the player 2 controller takes you to the Continue/Save/Retry screen immediately, so you can save without having to die.
- Comic Book Adaptation: The Valiant Comics series authorized by Nintendo was based on this and Zelda II.
- Convection, Schmonvection: Every dungeon located on Death Mountain in the first quest has lava in place of water. Not only is Link unaffected by it, but he can also cross narrow flows of it with a wooden ladder. It gets better: The lava is completely invisible in the dark.
- Creepy Cool Crosses: All the tombstones in the graveyard have crosses on them, as do Link's shields and, oddly, the Magic Book. Word of God explains that the motif is caused by the fact that the original plan was to have Christianity as the main religion in Hyrule; the three goddesses weren't invented until after the two NES games were released.
- The Magic Book's cross is only odd in the states; the tome is explicitly a Bible in the Japanese version.
- Damage Discrimination: Played straight with Bombs, averted with the Candles and
Bible"Book of Magic"-enhanced Magic Wand.
- Death Mountain: The Trope Namer.
- Denial of Diagonal Attack: Link is only able to move in four directions and his main attack is a straight-forward stab, which makes it difficult to attack things that you'd rather not be standing directly in front of.
- With a little finesse, you can throw the boomerang diagonally, but that's it.
- Disc One Nuke: If you know where to look, are somewhat good at evasion, and willing to grind rupees for a few minutes, it is possible to get three of the five overworld Heart Containers and therefore the White Sword, and the Blue Ring before entering the very first dungeon in the first quest. The three extra hearts and the White Sword can easily be gotten quickly and will allow you to breeze thru at least the first half of the game, but the ring is very expensive at 250 rupees (5 away from the maximum) and thus requires more time spent finding hidden rooms in the overworld for larger caches of Rupees if you want to buy it quickly (and without savescumming or rupee-farming), but it is also a major boon to have itself. (You can also manipulate the money-making game with Save Scumming, which will greatly cut down on the time necessary to farm rupees).
- It's also possible to get the Magic Key in the first quest with the treasure from just one dungeon, namely the bow. Granted, it's rather difficult, but doing this makes the rest of the quest a breeze.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Rather minor since it isn't explicitly mentioned in the game itself, but as mentioned above, the crosses are because Christianity was supposed to be Hyrule's religion; the mythology of the Golden Goddesses came later. A less minor example is the fact that there are no NPC-filled towns and NPCs are rather rare; oddly enough this was rectified in the next game, which is generally considered to be the Oddball in the Series.
- Also of note is that Link is going after the Triforce "with" Wisdom instead of the Triforce of Courage.
- Empty Room Psych: While most levels were fairly straightforward, the ninth dungeon and several second quest dungeons tended to feature these.
- Exact Words: One of the old ladies in the cave says "Pay me and I'll talk". So, you give her a good chunk of rupees, hoping for some great information about what to do next... and she says "Boy, you're rich." Well, she did say that she would talk if you gave her money...
- This old woman is meant to screw with you, since paying the maximum is what gets all the other old ladies to talk. Give this one the middle amount and she'll pony up the real information.
- Faceless Eye: Patra.
- Feed It a Bomb
- Feelies: The game came with a poster sized map which had the locations of most of the dungeons and could be used for taking notes. Much to the general annoyance of people who owned the original, this map has not been re-released with any of the remakes.
- Flash of Pain: Both Link and the enemies, when hit.
- Flip Screen Scrolling
- Game Mod: Several; the best-known (and best) is probably Zelda Challenge: Outlands.
- Giant Eye of Doom: Tektites, Digdogger, and especially Gohma and Patra.
- Give Me Your Inventory Item: GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE...
- LEAVE YOUR LIFE OR MONEY.
- Go for the Eye: Again, Gohma and Patra.
- Good Bad Translation
- Growling Gut: The abovementioned "Grumble, Grumble..." screen. "Grumble, Grumble" is the noise the Goriya's stomach is making.
- Guide Dang It: Try to get through the second quest without looking at a map. Just try. You'll probably get to about Level 3 before giving in.
- Heart Container: The Trope Namer.
- Here There Were Dragons: Unlike later games, magic (while it does show up) doesn't play a large role. The artbook Hyrule Historia officially calls the NES games "The Era of Hyrule's Decline".
- Heroes Want Redheads: The sprite and artwork of Princess Zelda are shown with red/brown hair.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Multi-headed dragons (Gleeoks) as bosses.
- Another dragon called Aquamentus is the first dungeon's boss.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Used to a higher degree here than in any other title in the series. Not only would keys transfer over from dungeon to dungeon, but you could even buy extras if you somehow managed to fluff the puppy and run out.
- There was also a "Magical Key" that left off the "antimatter" part.
- Invincible Minor Minion: "Bubbles" were flaming skulls that disable Link's ability to use a sword for awhile. There was absolutely no way to kill them. This was even worse in the Second Quest, where two new versions were added — a red one which took away the sword ability completely, and a blue one which restored it. Touching the first required touching the second, which was sometimes in a completely different room.
- Kid Hero: According to the Hyrule Historia, this incarnation of Link is only ten years old.
- Kill It with Fire: The Candle, and the Magic Wand after you find the Magic Book.
- Knockback: Both with Link and the enemies, some of which are sent flying all the way across the screen. Link can actually get knocked back into another enemy and take more damage.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: If a monster has a red or orange version and a blue version, the blue version is generally tougher. The only exception is the blue bubbles, which are far less annoying than the red versions.
- Lost Forever: In the second quest, some of the old men in the dungeons ask for 50 rupees, and if you don't have that you must give up a Heart Container. Not as in one unit of health, we mean one heart of your life capacity.
- In both quests, there are old men who offer you a choice between a heart container or a red potion. You can buy red potions, you can't buy heart containers.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Yes, this game has an example when you defeat Ganon. He explodes into a mess of red pixels, which then pile up underneath the Triforce piece he leaves behind.
- MacGuffin: The pieces of the Triforce.
- Man-Eating Plant: Peahat, Manhandla, and (arguably) Leever.
- The Maze: Two of them - The Lost Woods and the Lost Hills.
- Lost Hills are debatable since all you have to do is keep going up
- Arguably, Level 9 in both quests, and the majority of the labyrinths in the second.
- New Game+: As was not uncommon in those days, there is a "second quest" with a remixed extra-hard layout.
- Nintendo Hard: Only somewhat more forgiving than the second game. Focusing more on combat than puzzles, this is the hardest of the standard style games. If you started on the later games, it even combines with Surprise Difficulty.
- No Swastikas: Averted, as the third dungeon in the first quest forms a manji symbol. Even The Angry Video Game Nerd lampshades this as he calls it a swastika at the beginning of his review for Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
- Oculothorax: You'd never guess this from the game itself, but Digdogger (who hates a certain kind of sound) is one of these.
- Patra is an entire squadron of these.
- Pyromaniac: Link has always had a thing for bombs, and this is the only game in the series that requires you to start several forest fires in order to progress.
- Rainbow Speak: The intro.
- Recurring Boss: All of them except the final boss, sort of.
- Level 4: Manhandla, boss of the third dungeon, returns as a midboss.
- Level 5: Three Dodongos show up for a miniboss battle, where a single one served as the final boss of the second dungeon.
- Level 6: The two-headed dragon boss of the fourth dungeon, Gleeok, shows up as a midboss sporting a third head.
- Level 7: The fifth dungeon's boss, Digdogger, returns for a miniboss battle, followed later on by another trio of Dodongos. Later still, another Digdogger appears, and this one splits into three during the battle. Finally, the boss of this level is Aquamentus, the boss of the first dungeon.
- Level 8: A total of three Manhandlas appear in this dungeon, as do two Gohmas which due to the Law of Chromatic Superiority require three times as many hits to defeat as the one that served as the final boss of the sixth dungeon. The final boss is a four-headed Gleeok.
- Save Game Limits: Sort of. Unless you know the Player Up+ A code, the only way to save is to die. In the Virtual Console version, this doesn't even work... for some reason, the Virtual Console re-release is ported from the Game Boy Advance re-release, which doesn't even begin to make sense.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: The game hits a major difficulty spike about halfway through the first quest with the introduction of tough enemies such as Wizzrobes and Darknuts. The beginning of the second quest is even harder, as you must deal with such enemies much earlier on and with less equipment/life at your disposal. The difficulty rapidly subsides as you near the end of the second quest, however, as you continue to get stronger while the game's challenge begins to come more from increasingly complex/confusing dungeon layouts than from strong enemies (whom you see less of at this point than you did in the first quest).
- Self-Imposed Challenge: A number of players have worked out how to get through the entire game (except for the final boss) without using a sword.
- Sequence Breaking: Later games carefully worked out where you could find and use keys so that none were left over and no doors were left locked; this one didn't do that, so you can easily clear level 2 with about six or seven of them in reserve making it even easier to beat some of the later dungeons.
- Sequential Boss: Level 6 in the second quest ends with a battle against Manhandla in the room immediately before Gohma at the end of the level.
- Spell Book: It's not necessary for Link to be able to use the Magic Wand, but it does make his shots burst into flames. Ironically, this actually weakens the power of the wand, as enemies who would be injured by the magic but are impervious to fire stop being affected by wand shots. Many Genre Savvy players don't bother picking up the book, since it's not a required item for anything, just so they can keep using magic.
- Stock Sound Effects: Aquamentus, Gleeok, and Ganon all use a pterodactyl roar lifted straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, just in low-quality (and low pitch.) Something similar may also apply to the noise made by Manhandla, Digdogger, and Patra.
- Sword Beam: If your life meter is filled to maximum capacity, you can fire these at distant enemies.
- Notable because the beam, unlike many later Zelda titles, carries the same power level as the blade itself. Needless to say, getting the Magical Sword as early as possible is a major boon; even the White Sword is an improvement.
- Talking with Signs: As Link is a Heroic Mime in the series proper, perhaps this is the only way he could truly talk. He holds up sign "PLEASE LOOK UP THE MANUAL FOR DETAILS" in the opening scroll.
- Trope Maker: This was the first console game to use Save Points and post-game content.
- Tutorial Failure: In the instruction manual, the Pols Voice enemy is said to "hate loud noise". Naturally, the player would assume that their weakness would be the flute, then, but that's not the case at all. The flute does absolutely nothing to the Pols Voice. What the manual is actually referring to is the built-in microphone found in the Famicom, the Japanese version of the NES, the functionality of which was removed entirely for the American release. This is fixed in later games, where musical items will kill the Pols Voices.
- Unfortunate Name: Seriously, Manhandla?
- Its original name was even worse. Testitart.
- Unwinnable: In a way, possible in the second quest. Several rooms have all their doors slam shut until you defeat all of the non-Bubble enemies in them. If you get tagged by one of the red Bubbles (which remove your ability to use a sword until you touch a blue Bubble) in such a room without a blue Bubble, then you're down to whatever subweapons you have on hand. It's quite possible to be out of uses (if you haven't gotten unlimited-use ones like the wand or the red candle yet) and stuck in the room. Fortunately, you can just quit and retry even should all those conditions apply.
- Useless Useful Spell: Part of what makes the second quest so difficult is that certain "useless" items get a lot more mileage on their next go around, as they become essential to finding many helpful power-ups. The only indication you receive of this is finding said items much earlier in the game than before.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you attack the old men in the dungeons, they respond by having their campfires shoot fireballs at you until you go away. The ones encountered on the surface simply can't be hit.
- Villain Forgot to Level Grind: In the first quest, Aquamentus, boss of level one, returns as the boss of level seven with no improvements whatsoever. Two hits is all it takes and the Magic Shield can block its beams.
- Averted in the second quest with originally weak enemies such as Stalfos, who can now throw swords, and the Rope snakes, who now take more hits (and flash).
- Wall Master: The Trope Namer.
- Warp Whistle: The Whistle. Link can also use the Power Bracelet to access Warp Zones between four areas.
- Wide Open Sandbox: Quite possibly the Ur Example.
- A Winner Is You: "THANKS LINK, YOU'RE THE HERO OF HYRULE."
- Of course, you can attack the old man and wait for the resulting fireballs from his flames to kill you instead.
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