The Legend Of Zelda: A Portable History
A fond look back at Link's handheld adventures.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda franchise. Nintendo has something special in store for fans of the classic series, but remains mum on the plans, aside from re-releasing the popular Ocarina of Time on 3DS.
That said, we decided to take a look back at the portable Zelda adventures, starting with the first Game Boy and going all the way to 3DS.
We certainly hope you have many fond memories playing some or all of these games, and feel free to share those special moments in the comments below.
On that note, let's begin.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Game Boy- 1993, Game Boy Color- 1998)
Link's first portable outing is one of most unique Zelda titles in the franchise, largely because it breaks away from the same old story conventions. It doesn't take place in Hyrule or star Princess Zelda. Rather, Link explores Koholint Island in search of eight musical instruments that'll awaken the Wind Fish. On top of that, it features cameos from other Nintendo characters, such as Wart, Yoshi and Kirby; Link can even take a Chomp from the Super Mario Bros. games for a walk.
Having achieved great success on the Game Boy, Nintendo ported Link's Awakening to Game Boy Color in 1998 under the DX branding. Featuring color graphics, an exclusive dungeon and compatibility with Game Boy Printer, this port successfully carried the original's legacy to a new group of players.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (Game Boy Color- 2001)
Capcom, from Street Fighter and Resident Evil fame, partnered with Nintendo to co-develop two outstanding Zeldas for Game Boy Color, released simultaneously. Oracle of Seasons played like most of the games in the series with one key exception: Link can harness the power of the mystical Rod of Seasons to manipulate the time of year and access new areas. Going from summer to winter, for instance, freezes a body of water, allowing Link to safely cross to the other side.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (Game Boy Color- 2001)
The second Capcom/Nintendo developed adventure, Oracle of Ages, finds Link in the land of Labrynna, where he seeks the Harp of Ages to travel between the past and the present through Time Holes.
Playing both Oracle of Seasons and Ages back to back, via linked password, connects both games and gives users a special ending.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Game Boy Advance- 2002)
The beloved Super Nintendo classic, A Link to the Past, found its way to GBA, retaining the quality play and story involving Link's daring attempt to rescue Zelda from the clutches of a wizard named Agahnim. In this case, though, the cartridge came with a bonus in the form of Four Swords, a multiplayer focused romp where two to four players work together to clear dungeons while competing to see who can grab the most rupees, often at the expense of each other.
The Legend of Zelda (Game Boy Advance- 2004)
To say the original Zelda had a huge impact on video games would be an understatement. Nintendo's 1986 classic laid the proverbial groundwork for hundreds of clones. While primitive by today's standards, the first entry in this incredible series was a revelation, with non-linear adventuring through the land of Hyrule, complete with dungeons full of monsters and a handful of weapons to slay them with.
That said, Nintendo chose to re-release the game on its GBA as part of the Classic NES Series, a line of games pulled from the console's storied library.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Game Boy Advance- 2004)
Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn't the only oddball in Nintendo's lineup. The publisher also made dramatic changes for the Zelda sequel, The Adventure of Link, ditching the top down view for a side-scrolling perspective, and that's just for starters. Link had extra lives (the first and last time that feature appeared in a Zelda game), and players could level up the hero's attack, magic and life via an experience points system. In addition, they cast magic spells and interacted with a bigger variety of non-player characters. Definitely an acquired taste when compared to the more traditional Zeldas.
Like the first game, The Adventure of Link was part of the GBA's Classic NES Series.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance- 2004)
In what can only be described as honey, I shrunk the Link, Nintendo's celebrated GBA title lets players view Hyrule from two unique perspectives. Link can walk around the world at his normal height, or (after donning a talking cap) transform into a pint size pipsqueak, wandering through towering blades of grass and meeting the game's tiny race of creatures, the Minish.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS- 2007)
Although the company returned to a more mature looking Zelda with Twilight Princess on the Wii, Nintendo chose to keep the Wind Waker's cartoon style graphics and theme for the critically acclaimed Phantom Hourglass. Much like its GameCube counterpart, this phenomenal adventure finds young Link sailing the high seas in search of treasure. What makes the game stand out, aside from its gorgeous graphics, are the touch screen controls, a user-friendly setup that allows players to break objects and attack enemies by tapping them.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS- 2009)
All aboard! With Spirit Tracks, Link exchanged his boat for a train equipped with a cannon, plotting a course through Hyrule admiring the beautiful countryside. The ability to blow the whistle to scare animals off tracks is a nice touch, but the big feature involves possessing Phantoms to solve puzzles. Link will need that and more if he intends to reunite Princess Zelda's spirit with her body.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS- June 19, 2011)
This brings us to the latest entry in Zelda's portable history, a wonderful looking remake of the Nintendo 64 title, Ocarina of Time. Featuring enhanced graphics, 3D effects and other nifty features, including the ability to aim Link's slingshot through a first person mode, this should be the definitive version, as well as a killer app for the 3DS system. Bring on Majora's Mask.