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Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 24, 2003 Also On: None

To say that the Legend of Zelda is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time would be a major understatement. It has had games on 4 Nintendo consoles and 4 handhelds. Yes, there was even a Game and Watch Zelda game. Its lasting appeal is due to nothing less than the sheer quality of all the games in the franchise (note that I am excluding the Phillips CD-I games from that statement, as well as possibly the Game and Watch game). It should stand to reason, therefore, that when four of these games are put on one game disk, the result is a compilation that is nothing short of astounding, and I am pleased to say that the disk easily met my expectations and more. There are, however, some minor details that need to be discussed.

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There are four games in this collection: The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for the NES, as well as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask for the N64. I am going to discuss each game separately, and then I am going to make some final comments about the bonus features and the disk as a whole.

Let’s start with The Legend of Zelda. This game is certainly basic, but for it’s time, it was revolutionary. The idea of bird’s eye games was invented with this game, as were likely many of the other ideas such as heart containers to collect and items to get and use in one’s inventory. I am going to be quite honest and admit that I came to this disk having played both this game and A Link to the Past before and having reached the conclusion that I absolutely hated with a passion the bird’s eye view Zelda games, because I was no good at them. Yet, I decided to give this game another try and managed to actually do somewhat decently at it.

The graphics for this game are certainly far short of GCN capability, but, seriously, what do you expect from a NES game from 1987? For its time, these graphics are very good, and they still get the job done even today. There is noticeable slowdown when you are on a screen with a lot of enemies in this version, but that is probably the result of perfect emulation of a game with slowdown rather than an emulation problem; overall, nothing major to complain about.

The sound is basic Zelda sound. It seems everything from this game has been reused in the sequels, but it was all new in this game. Once again, we are talking about a NES game from 1987, so the game meets the relatively low expectations of that time period. Like the graphics, everything is not as good as it would be were this a GCN game, but everything gets the job done, and even though there are only two songs in the game (three if you count the song that plays on the title screen), both are addicting and don’t really get old. Once again, nothing major to complain about.

The gameplay in this game is really nothing spectacular compared to its SNES sequel of the same type, but for the first game of a franchise, the gameplay is fairly solid. You go around, you kill things with a sword, you burn a tree and bomb a wall here and there, and you push a block or rock occasionally. There is really little of the puzzle orientation that would be in the sequels. Most of the “puzzles” in this game’s dungeons amounted to either “push block X one square to the left/right” or “kill everything in the room to open the door to the next room”. I personally find it difficult to battle on the bird’s eye view screen, especially against bosses, because you have to be at point-blank range to inflict damage unless you’re at full health (which you hardly ever are) for about two-thirds of the game. There is some of the exploration of the later games in this game but not nearly as much. Overall, this game’s gameplay is by far the worst of any of the console Zelda games (I’ve never played any of the Game Boy ones), but it is still a solid first effort and worth playing through at least once if you get this disk.

So far, as replay value is concerned on this game, it will be for nostalgia only. Once you beat the game, there is a second quest which is harder than the first. Once you have beaten both, though, there is really no reason to play this game again except for the excellent inherent replay value possessed by these early games for most people.

Overall, this is the most creative of the bird’s eye view Zelda games, as all of the later ones borrow heavily from it, although things were added to make the later ones more complex and interesting. It is well worth playing if only to see where truly great games like Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker got their roots.

The next game in this collection is Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. This game is drastically different from both the games that preceded it and the one that came after, which were both bird’s eye view games. This game has a bird’s eye view world map, but the battles take place on a 2D action field. This is the Zelda game that tends to get picked on the most (yes, even more than the cell-shading in Wind Waker) because it was so radically different from all the rest, even than the 3D ones. However, the chance to play this game again was one of the two reasons that I picked up a copy of this disk, as I am in the minority both in disliking The Legend of Zelda and liking this game.

Anyway, the graphics for this game are slightly better than those of it’s bird’s eye view counterpart, but they are not radically different. Like with The Legend of Zelda, the graphics are good enough to get the job done, but are not the most impressive in the world by GCN standards. However, the slowdown problems appear to have been solved in many cases by this game, and that is certainly a good thing, although occasionally, some minor slowdown is present.

The sounds are the basic Zelda fare in this game, sword slashes and other such things, but the music in this game is very good. It is not uncommon, particularly here under Pillsbury authority, for me to hum video game music to myself since it is the only type of music I like that isn’t disapproved here, and the two palace melodies from this game are among the ones I turn to the most.

The gameplay, like I said, is different from both the prequel and the sequel to this game. The easiest way to describe it, although the label doesn’t fit completely, would be to call the game an action RPG. It has almost everything a game would need to qualify: random battles in the over world, level-ups, and magic. It has some Zelda elements like heart and magic containers, but is missing others, such as the presence of Ganon/Ganondorf as the main evil character, although his followers are a minor sideline in the plot. There are even some minor puzzles to be solved, but the “puzzles” in this game are a joke compared even to the ones in the original game. To call this a hack ‘n’ slash wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

This game has the same inherent replay found in The Legend of Zelda if you are one of those who enjoy the game, but, unfortunately, the “second quest” in this game is absolutely stupid, so playing it would be pointless. So far as creativity is concerned, this game was certainly creative for the time it came out, I believe it predated even Dragon Warrior, but some of the creative things done with this game turned off many hardcore Zelda fans. This game, being totally unlike any of the others in the series, is optional for those seeking to see the roots of the newer games, but it is my opinion that this game, although drastically different than the other Zelda games, is easily worthy of at least one play through.

Now we get to what was possibly the most pointless game on this disk: Ocarina of Time. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ocarina of Time; I have played and beaten (with the help of a walkthrough) Ocarina of Time, but I did all of this on GCN with the Wind Waker bonus disk. The moral of the story is this: anybody who cared about this game would have preordered Wind Waker to get that disk, so very few people are going to need to play it on this disk. With that said, Ocarina of Time is far from a bad game.

The graphics in this game are far better than the two NES games, but that’s to be expected for an N64 game released in 1998, and certainly for the 1998 Game of the Year by most sites and magazines. These graphics are certainly beautiful by the standards of their day, and they don’t look that bad even now. There is little if any slowdown that I noticed in this game as well, which is another plus.

The sound is still basically Zelda-fare, but it sounds better on this game than on the NES games. The music on this game is good, if not quite as good as the earlier two games, and some of it is borrowed from the previous games, such as Kakariko Village’s from A Link to the Past. There is nothing major to complain about here though.

The gameplay is where this game really shines though. Tough puzzles, awesome battles, and lots of collecting and challenges make this a game that will last a while, while both of the NES games could probably be completed by an expert player of them in less than 5 hours each. This one is significantly longer and more complicated than the previous two I have discussed, but that is not a bad thing at all. Although a lot is borrowed from previous games in terms of items and enemies, this game translates those things to 3D very well.

Unfortunately, there is no second quest in this game, unless you have the other bonus disk, in which case there is Master Quest, but that’s another subject, so you are basically done with this game when you finish it unless you decide for some reason to go back and play it again. There is a lot to collect, though, and it may take you a while to get it all, so the replay value on this game is pretty good.

This game isn’t really a spectacle of creativity as much as it is a very good translation of a popular and excellent quality 2D bird’s eye franchise into the beginning of a popular and excellent 3D franchise. I would recommend that you play this game on this disk only if you haven’t already played it on the other bonus disk, since, so far as I can tell, the two versions are exactly the same.

Last, but certainly not least, Majora’s Mask. This game is the main reason I got this disk, as it is the one game on the collection that I hadn’t previously played. This game is based heavily on Ocarina of Time’s style of gameplay, but there are enough added things and twists to make the game unique and even more creative than Ocarina of Time was.

The graphics in this game are basically the same as in Ocarina of Time. Basically, they took the same sprites and made them look two years better. In fact, many things in this game are direct remakes of things found in Ocarina of Time, since the game is supposed to be a direct sequel, that’s not really a bad thing. I don’t really have any major issues with the graphics in this game.

The sound; okay, here’s where I start having issues, not because it is bad in and of itself, but because it is emulated poorly in some places. The sound effects are borrowed from Ocarina of Time, as is much of the music, and overall, it sounds better, but there are those times where it sounds choppy and not emulated properly. This is a semi-major gripe, but if you don’t want to put up with it, you can always turn the sound off. It isn’t really big enough of a deal to warrant that though.

The gameplay is really similar to Ocarina of Time except for the mask system. When Link dons different masks, he can do different things, and some masks even change his form. This game, like the Adventure of Link, doesn’t have Ganondorf as the boss, but rather a skull kid who has put on a mask that gave him great power and turned him to evil. This game also has far less dungeons than Ocarina of Time and more of an emphasis on collecting things outside of the dungeons. The time system is really the most annoying thing about this game since many things have to be done at a particular point in time, although this does serve to make the game more complicated, which in turn makes it last longer the first time through.

To be honest, I really can’t comment on the replay value of this game, because I haven’t even beaten it once yet. I would imagine though, that it’s replay value is on par with that of Ocarina of Time, maybe somewhat more or less depending on what you think of the mask and time systems. Both are new though, adding to the creativity of the game. Obviously, this game is just as worth playing as Ocarina of Time is in general, and more so, on this disk, since many Zelda fans have the other bonus disk with Ocarina of Time.

There are three major features on this disk other than the games. First, there is a retrospective that shows gameplay scenes from all the Zelda games in chronological order to the music of the over world in The Legend of Zelda (excluding the Game and Watch game and the CD-I games, which I would have been curious to see). This is interesting to watch once, maybe twice, but after that it isn’t really worth watching anymore.

The second feature is a demo movie of Wind Waker. Okay, so they’re advertising Wind Waker on this disk that came out seven months after the game. Few people are going to buy Wind Waker as a result of this advertisement, but, whether you’ve played the game or not, this is worth watching at least once but not much more than that.

The third feature is almost as pointless as the second one. Basically, they took what were the three in-store demos for Wind Waker and put them in, so you can do twenty minutes of the first true dungeon, the pirate base where you have to traverse in a barrel, or Windfall Island. For those who have played the games, these might prove interesting diversions from the games once or twice. In fact, I think it would be interesting to try to beat the barrel level or the dungeon in a twenty minute demo period, but I doubt either is possible.

Overall, words cannot express how any true Zelda fan and even other people who like good games needs to have this disk in their collection. It might not be possible to get one anymore by subscribing to Nintendo Power or buying the games, but you might be able to get one used from a video game store, if someone was stupid enough to sell it to them or got duplicate copies and sold them. Likewise, I would imagine Ebay would have copies. Anybody who enjoys fun video games and has a GameCube really needs to have this game.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.8
Written by Martin Review Guide