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Happy Birthday, Link! Share Your Zelda Memories Here

by Jeff Cork on Feb 21, 2011 at 03:28 AM

Are you ready to feel old? Here it comes: The Legend of Zelda was released in Japan 25 years ago today. If you first became acquainted with the series through Ocarina of Time, that number probably didn't make you flinch. If, on the other hand, you remember reading about the game in the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter before it hit stores in the U.S., well, you're old. Congrats!

While the game didn't come over to North America until the end of August in 1987, it seems silly to ignore today's milestone. With that in mind, let's share a few stories about the series. Since I'm already here, I'll start things off.

When I was a kid, I was a rabid Nintendo fan. I practically memorized the contents of each Nintendo newsletter, and this Legend of Zelda thing sounded particularly interesting. It came in a freaking gold cartridge, for crying out loud! It's hard to understand this now, but games didn't have firm release dates back then. Retailers may have known when a particular game was going to be arriving in stores, but even if they did, it didn't occur to them to pass that information along to customers. People hadn't been trained to anticipate new releases the way we do now, either. The most reliable way you'd know if a game was out was by seeing it on a shelf. Lame.

Anyway, I knew that I had to get the Legend of Zelda as soon as I read about it in the newsletter. For the next few months, I started calling the only place that sold games in my small town and asked if it was in stock. I did this every day for months. Some days, I would call in the morning and in the evening, in case they got a shipment after I called the first time. Yes, I was a little obsessed. OK, I was a huge freaking nerd. After a while, they started recognizing my voice, and it was clear that they were tired of this dumb kid pestering them. I didn't care.

Eventually, my family went on a road trip, and we went to a huge (at the time) mall. There it was, at Kay Bee Toys. I remember it costing $53 after taxes, which was outrageously expensive at the time. I didn't care though. The next few days were torture, since my NES was home. I did pore over the map and instruction manual though. I remember being a little put off by the swastika-shaped dungeon. When I finally got home, it was everything I had hoped for and more.

Over the years, the Legend of Zelda games have gotten a little formulaic, but I still have a soft spot for that series. Link's Awakening is one of my all-time favorite games, and I'll go to my grave saying that Majora's Mask is far superior to Ocarina of Time.

That's my long-winded way of saying, "Happy birthday, Zelda!" Your turn.