Last month The Legend Of Zelda
turned 25. And because of this every single retro-gaming related website ran a bunch of features related to the series. So I figured I'd wait for the celebration to die down and then get into it here. Or rather, I just got sidetracked and forgot to get around to it until now. Whatever. But the series is certainly important to me. And as such it's important to this blog. Seeing as how the blog started as a way to showcase lesser known Game Boy carts, it should be noted that my purchase of the Nintendo Game Boy Player attachment for the GameCube was based almost solely on the fact that doing so would suddenly mean that there were a pile of Zelda
games that I could play on my TV. So let's take a look at all those Zelda
games that found their way to a Game Boy handheld. The Legend Of Zelda
was re-released as part of the Game Boy Advance's Classic NES
series. That choice was certainly a no-brainer. The game is of course not only a high-point of the NES, but of gaming in general. It basically created an entire genre that meshed action with elements of role playing. The GBA port is excellent and cheap-n-easy to find on the after market. All GBA enthusiasts should have this one.
Surprisingly the sequel Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link
also made it to the Classic NES
line. Strange considering the phrase "black sheep" being almost synonymous with the game. Though for all the flack it receives, I'm a longtime fan of this one. The truth is, Adventure Of Link
was actually my first Zelda
game. I got it for my birthday soon after its release. At the time the first game was impossible to find in local toy stores, so this was my introduction to the series. Say what you will about it. There's a very unique and daring quest within. The GBA port is wonderfully faithful to the original, and considering it's probably the cheapest GB-related Zelda
game to find in the wild, it's worth giving it a go even if you don't remember loving it the first time. A Link To The Past
is my favorite game ever
. So I'm totally biased when I say that everybody should own this game either in its original SNES form, or here on the GBA. It looks fantastic on a GBA SP screen, although suffers slightly from a few oddly annoying voice samples that were added to the re-release. They aren't nearly as overdone as in the GBA port of Super Mario Bros. 2
The GBA re-release is also notable for including a bonus game, the brand new Four Swords
which would be the first multi-player Zelda
game. It recycled sprites from Link To The Past
which was welcome artistically, but it was also somewhat of a burden to play. Sadly unlike its GameCube sequel, there's no single-player campaign on the GBA game. This means that some of us (me) who don't have local gamer friends with their own GBA's and copies of the game never got the chance to delve in to this one. Link's Awakening
was released for the Game Boy in 1993, and was a total revelation. Although the GB's hardware was lesser than that of the NES, the graphics, gameplay and story of this one actually aligned with the SNES' Link To The Past
. Playing the game on Game Boy hardware back then was stunning to say the least, as nobody realized that the handheld was capable of such things. Even to this day the title remains a cult-classic in the Zelda
series, often considered the standard by which to judge all portable outings. Link's Awakening
received a Game Boy Color re-release in 1998 which adds to the game by giving it vibrant colors, an extra dungeon and even compatibility with the Game Boy Camera.
Perhaps the two most overlooked titles in the official Zelda
cannon, Oracle Of Ages
and Oracle Of Seasons
are the definition of ambition. What began as an attempt to port the original Legend Of Zelda
to the NES somehow turned into an original game, then three games, and eventually scaled down to two games. The misconception among gamers seems to be that these are two takes on the same game -- like Pokemon Red
. But that's not the case at all. The two Oracle
games are completely different and original quests. One relies heavily on puzzles, the other on action. One toys with time, the other with nature. But each of them are remarkable little gems that should get a bit more attention than they do. Minish Cap
would be the final Zelda
game to come out on a GB handheld, and it's a solid affair. Admittedly it's the one that I've spent the least amount of time with as I personally got slightly bored with the shrinking and growing gimmick. However, I can certainly say that it's artistically great, borrowing heavily from A Link To The Past
's art style and features some jaw-dropping visuals on the GBA. Fans of the heavy-puzzle side of the series will enjoy this one quite a bit, though the game's biggest criticism tends to be its brevity.
So there we have it -- the GB side of Zelda
. What are your favorites and why?
The Oracle games are great, I have them both. And yeah, they're not at all the same like the Pokémon games are.
Great read, I need to get some more of these. Only have the Oracle ones and the Zelda NES Classic.
I loved the GB Zeldas. They stayed 2D while the N64 ones branched off and did something else. Look at the N64 Zeldas, they looked blocky and jaggy, even when they were new. Even though the gameplay brough something new to the table, it took another generation to get the formula right with Windwaker and TP.
Its games like Links awakening and the Oracles that kept me addicted to the game boy back in the day. So addicted, in fact, that I didn't mind that we were like three generations behind with console gaming. Sure, the usual equipment is there (bombs, hookshot, power bracelet, etc.) to keep you puzzling through the standard 8 dungeons in order... but there is something more to the puzzles. The Oracle games introduced another dimension to the game. Time could be used to restore ruins to its former glory, and Seasonal changes could allow passage across a frozen lake. There's more. If you had both Oracle games, you could beat one and continue it on the other. If you add it up you have 16 dungeons for one continuous game. Of course there's the replay value of reversing that... so in actuality, occupying 2 game slots on both carts (4 total), you could actually play them TWO ways totaling 32 dungeons.
It's a shame Nintendo discontinued the Game Boy line. What a legacy! I don't know whether to give in and get a DS or PSP now... or wait and see if the NGP does at least half of what it promises.
A Link To The Past is my favorite game ever.
LttP is the first Zelda title I've ever played extensively. I still haven't beaten it, but that's due mainly to other things of higher importance getting in the way... like sleep, for example.
I recall my first experience with LttP being a rather brief and odd one. I'd give you details, but I'm saving this story for later. Let's just say I got some snacks out of the deal...
So I'm totally biased when I say that everybody should own this game either in its original SNES form, or here on the GBA.
I have both, and I was even alternating between the two for a while there.
At one time I had a copy of the SNES version that sported a Super Mario World label.
It looks fantastic on a GBA SP screen, although suffers slightly from a few oddly annoying voice samples that were added to the re-release. They aren't nearly as overdone as in the GBA port of Super Mario Bros. 2 though.
While I concur that the voice work is indeed overdone in Super Mario Bros. Advance, I found it less obnoxious than what I heard in the GBA rendition of LttP.
Ah man I love portable Zelda-action, it works great for both short and long bursts of play, lending itself nicely to the portable platform. I played Link's Awakening DX so damn much when I was a kid, but I only recently took the time to actually beat it. It's amazing that such an epic game came out on the original Gameboy way back when.
I also played through Minish Cap on my PSP via emulator a year or so ago and it was fantastic. Definitely one of my favorite games ever. I ended up buying a boxed copy of the actual game on the cheap later, simply too good to not own.
I've got both of the Oracle games and I really need to play through them. I started one, then made the mistake of trying to save and quit. In Link's Awakening this is done by holding down A+B+Select+Start or something like that, and the same combination on the Oracle games just reset the game. With no warning. So about 45 minutes into the game, I reset and lost all my progress. Needless to say, my rage at Capcom knew no bounds. Seriously, that has to be the dumbest function ever, goddamn. Great games though!
Every Game Boy game I've played has used A+B+Start+Select for a soft reset. I've never really played Link's Awakening though, so I don't know why that one would be an exception.
I absolutely love portable Zelda games. LttP is one of my favorite Zelda games and yet I've never played the SNES version. I still have to pick up the NES remakes though..
@blcklblskt: the NES games aren't remakes, just emulated. Just don't want you to expect anything extra.
*Sigh* Those were some great games. My only problem with the GBA remakes was the perspective was off a bit (something to do with the resolution of the GBA screen or something), but once I got playing, it all just disappeared.
I never got a chance to play the Oracle games. I think I owned Oracle of Seasons at one point (Target clearance), but I traded it for a boxed copy of MGS for Gameboy Color. Hmm.
Then I suppose Link's Awakening is really the one at fault for breaking the norm, but damn it still annoys the hell out of me. Damn you Nintendo for luring me into a false sense of security!
I've never been much of a handheld player, but I do remember losing tons of hours to Link's Awakening as a child. It is easily my favorite Zelda title ever. A friend and I literally spent weeks scouring the land for enough sea shells to get our total to 20. I've yet to play any of the other handheld Zelda games, but its definitely not for lack of interest.
The GBA version of Link to the Past is slightly better IMO than the original SNES because they simplified this one crazy annoying puzzle in the Ice Palace that required an insane amount of backtracking.