Debt to The Legend of Zelda. How I learned to love games.

By Zach Bowman
July 8, 2017

Why does Zelda matter so much? Every interest and obsession has a beginning. How my obsession started might be a bit of an oddity. Games are a big part of my life. The past, the present, and likely the future will include my interest in video games. I love an origin story, but I have not actually thought about mine until now. The odd part about my interest in games is also one of my favorite things about my grandfather. My grandfather was the sole reason I became so interested in games; he started me off with the Nintendo Entertainment System, not the first video game system out there, but a fine one to begin with.

The Golden Cartridge

While I was learning to platform with Super Mario Bros. and shoot ducks with a taunting dog, I had a general idea of what games were. They were a lot of fun, something to keep my distracted mind incredibly busy, something I could actually focus on. This is why games stuck with me, and the adventure game that really sucked me in was The Legend of Zelda. I was still pretty young when I was first immersed into the world of Zelda, so I was content wandering around aimlessly fighting the enemies that would pop up on the different screen segments. This is essentially how I played the game, by wandering around until I found something interesting or a new enemy type to battle with. Games had not quite grabbed my total interest yet, but that golden game stuck with me in the form of one word: Zelda.

It was not too long after playing the NES that I was introduced to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This system introduced to me what would be my first obsession with any game. That game was The Legend of Zelda, a Link to the Past. Like any concerned parent, mine were worried that I might be spending too much time on these video games at such a young age. My solution? Wake up at 5 in the morning when my parents were still sleeping and simply play then. My time was limited after school, so this was the plan I had. This worked for a good while…until I was caught! A Link to the Past gave me the reasons to wake up at such an ungodly hour. The strange environments and enemies kept me wanting more, as well as the music that accompanied the overworld, fortune teller house, and dungeons. The item gathering and collecting was different than any other game I had yet played. The bosses in each dungeon were so cool I would easily become distracted by how awesome they looked that I quickly lost the battles. I swiftly overcame that distraction due to my desire to continue on in the game. I was not satisfied with being stuck in a specific area for too long. A Link to the Past became my true gateway into all things games, and a constant desire for the next big thing with Zelda.

The Console

This console changed everything for me. The Nintendo 64 console was and still remains to be my favorite above all others. It is no surprise then, that the Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask were the foundation of my love for games. My best friend and I, at the time, became obsessed with beating the next part of Ocarina of Time, and it was often a subject of discussion at school with other friends. This game held the perfect balance between challenging and fun gameplay to keep us returning to it for more. Each key found, mini boss defeated, key item obtained were the fuel that powered our passion for playing. One particularly fond memory for me was the Water Temple – how grueling it was to find the next small key; or how impossible it seemed to beat the Shadow Link mini-boss in the temple. It took us ages to beat that temple, but after doing so anything seemed possible to overcome. I had never experienced much fear in games until I ventured into the well in Kakariko Village and stumbled around in the Shadow Temple, amidst the developers idea of zombie-like creatures with oversized jaws/teeth, and pale decaying skin. I had also never experienced a game that had so many different musical pieces that were simple in construction, yet enthralling. Each piece of music that accompanied the temples perfectly set the mood and scene of the temples (personal favorite tunes: Shadow Temple, Forest Temple, and Spirit Temple themes). Majora’s Mask enhanced upon its predecessor, but with much greater gameplay difficulty and somber music. The mask element of the game was also a refreshing change to the gameplay and style. Being Link was one thing, but being Link with an ability enhancing mask was something more. There might not have been as many technical “temples” in Majora’s Mask, but the 4 environments in the land of Termina had a wide array of things to occupy myself with. Both of these games led to my intense interest in the N64 gaming library, some of these games included: Bomberman 64, Perfect Dark, Glover, Pokemon Snap, Kirby and the Crystal Shards, Rush, Hybrid Heaven, and many more.

Nintendo consoles were the only consoles that mattered to me for a long while. I began playing extensively on the Gameboy Color and then the Gameboy Advance, which is where I gained my love for role playing games by playing Pokemon, Lufia, and the lesser known Magi-Nation. I was content with where I was in gaming at that time, never really becoming interested in upgrading to the Nintendo console, the Gamecube. Lufia: The Legend Returns (by Natsume- also known for Harvest Moon) became the cornerstone of my interest in turn based strategy. It is also my favorite game to this day- more on that another time.

I still love to revisit old games from the N64 and SNES, to appreciate how far games have come in development, animation, style, and visual effects. Skip a few years and I have explored Playstation and XBox games, ultimately deciding to own and play the Playstation 2, 3 and 4. Gaming for me currently means more than just playing the games for myself, but instead sharing my passion for gaming with my friends and lately my wife. Cooperative games have become a favorite hobby of ours, and we are kicking butt at it! Also worthy of mention; my wife has started Ocarina of Time, without having me urge her to play it! I still owe a tremendous deal of my gaming life to Zelda and my grandfather for the introduction, and I could not be happier for it!

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