The Legend of Zelda: a retrospective

We chart the evolution of the technology and history of The Legend of Zelda, from its humble 8-bit NES beginnings to the latest Wii project

The Legend of Zelda: A complete pictorial history of one of the greatest games series ever

Selling more than 52 million copies, The Legend of Zelda is one of the most popular and prolific video game series ever produced. It all started on 21 February, 1986, when the original The Legend of Zelda game was released on the Famicom (the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES) as a launch title for the new Famicom Disk System peripheral.

The Legend of Zelda: A complete pictorial history of one of the greatest games series ever

A top-down game, The Legend of Zelda focused on the character of Link, a young boy in the kingdom of Hyrule. Charged with rescuing the ever-helpless Princess Zelda from the evil Ganon, Link’s task is to collect eight fragments of the holy Triforce of Wisdom.

The Legend of Zelda: A complete pictorial history of one of the greatest games series ever

The Legend of Zelda was a bestseller for Nintendo, selling more than 6.5 million copies and gaining a Guinness World Record for “Highest-Rated Game of All Time” in the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition.

The Legend of Zelda: A complete pictorial history of one of the greatest games series ever

Less than a year later, the original was followed by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It was available initially in the Famicom Disk System format but was later released as a more robust NES cartridge. The Legend of Zelda: A complete pictorial history of one of the greatest games series ever

The top-down view was retained for part of the game — the ‘overworld’ in which Link traveled between locations — but the majority of gameplay was in a side-scrolling format.

The Legend of Zelda: A complete pictorial history of one of the greatest games series ever

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link adds various RPG elements, with Link gaining experience points to be distributed between stamina, attack and magic. Along with magic spells, Link has extra lives to fall back on — the only time in the series this gameplay mechanic is included.

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