Yes, It's true. I am a huge Nintendo fan, yet have never played a single Zelda game. But why? To be honest I never really thought about it too much. They are well received games with an ever expanding library that is easily obtainable. Yet, I still haven't pulled the trigger. I struggle with which game to start with. Or should I just start at the beginning and work my way forward? With Zelda Breath of the Wild on the horizon, should I just start there? I know. You are probably yelling at the screen or inside your head as to THE Zelda game that I should start with. But is it really that simple? Are my interests the same as yours? To put things in context, let's journey back to what I was playing in my younger years.
I started off my Nintendo carrier the same as most, with Mario. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's like going to Disneyland and seeing Mickey. Classic. I was slightly late to the NES party though. Receiving mine somewhere around 1991 or so. Must have been no older than 3 or 4. Eventually, my grandparents even got one so I didn't have to lug mine back and forth to their house. As I grew older, I became increasingly interested in different games and even systems. My grandmother would take me out on early morning yard sales and try to snatch up some NES games for cheap before they were gone. Most of the time, they never had any. But occasionally, we would find a few odd ones here and there. That's how we came across Bucky O'Hare. But there was one specific memory I had that was absolutely magical.
Me, not being much of a morning person was not prepared for yet another run at some early morning yard sales. I just wanted to stay home all day, watch cartoons and or play NES. Needless to say, my grandmother convinced me we should at least give one place a look. Now I don't know to this day if she knew what was to be found at this yard sale or if we just got lucky. We arrived and it looked relatively normal from the street. Boy was I wrong. As I stepped foot into the strangers' garage, over in the corner there had to have been a stack of about 20 deep in NES games. All different titles that I have never seen before. I was overwhelmed with excitement and ran over to the table. I thumbed through every title and thumbed through again. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any of these games. After I confirmed that I didn't, I showed my grandmother. The games must have been around 50 cents to a dollar a piece because we walked out with the whole box. The only condition was that they were to remain at her house. (My grandfather also dabbled in games as well but that's for another story.) I gleefully agreed as I waddled back with the tremendous treasure. One game that did not show up, probably for good reason, was Zelda. After all, who would get rid of those beautiful gold cartridges?
A few more years went by and the SNES was born. I didn't get one till a few years in (see a trend here?) but it came packed in with Nintendo's newest approach to an old IP. Donkey Kong Country. This specific game will hold a special place in my heart forever as it was the very first game I beat all on my own. From start to finish. But that wouldn't happen for a few years.
Now that I have the more powerful system in my possession yet no money to buy games, I did an awful lot of renting. My parents ended up getting divorced so every other weekend I would get to spend time with my mother. The special thing about those weekends was going to the local rental place and rent two movies and one game. It was a special they ran for the weekend. All that for somewhere in the ballpark of ten bucks. It was highway robbery on our part. I can't really recall specifics of which games I did and didn't play. But I can tell you once again Zelda was not in the equation. In fact, I don't remember learning about Zelda until the Nintendo 64.
Nintendo 64 is perhaps the reason I grew to absolutely love video games. The memories are fresher and more vivid. The game list was deep. I also really started to grow into my own play styles and genres. One thing was for certain. I absolutely loved Sci-Fi. From Star Fox to Star Wars and even Perfect Dark. I was hooked. I could explore this genre forever. Alas, there were not that many Sci-Fi games just yet. There were however, quite a few 3D platformers, racing games and mostly just multi-player games. I never had much time for that many single player games. When I did get to play exorbitant amounts of games, It was on the weekends with my two cousins. Everything from Mario Kart and Goldeneye to Perfect Dark and Super Smash Bros. We also dabbled in Pokemon on the 64 as well as our Gameboy. Now that I recall, one of the very first heavy fantasy games I played was on the Gameboy Advanced.
The Gameboy Advanced was a very memorable system to me. It is what helped draw me into Metroid with Metroid Fusion and it was the first time I played a full blown Fantasy game. Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced. I get excited just thinking about it! To be clear, Fantasy was never really my thing. Every time I saw Zelda, It just didn’t jump out at me. I can't really explain why I felt this way for so long but unless there were Dragons, I wasn't interested.
Gamecube came and went. Along with it, another Zelda game. This one was... unique for some reason. It really grabbed my attention. It was vastly different looking than all it's predecessors. It looked cool! Unfortunately, I was swayed by friends with not the best intentions, to "forget that piece of trash." I believe this was the initial response to a cartoon-esque Zelda. Unless you where a die-hard fan that is. Which as you know, I was not. I STILL have never played a Zelda game. But perhaps they were doing me a favor and I will just forget about the series.
The Wii has been the last Nintendo console (for now) that I have owned. It too brough Zelda with interesting controls and even loads more of fans so excited to play the next entry. At this point, I was numb to the series. It did nothing for me. I didn’t grow up with it and fond memories attached. It was the anomaly in my Nintendo-loving game career. I never got to experience any of it as a child.
March 3rd is about a month and some change away as I write this. Just like Wind Waker, I look at Breath of the Wild with longing eyes. I want to be part of this crazy Zelda fandom. I have missed out on it for so long, this finally has to happen. When I get my Nintendo Switch, I need to finally play a Zelda game.
The last thing I would like to leave with the reader is a kind suggestion. Should my first Zelda game be Breath of the Wild? Or should I start elsewhere as previously mentioned? Feel free to let me know what you think.