April 1, 2018
Hello, avid readers, I am returning again to revisit a forgotten classic in the Zelda series. Since its launch in the early nineties, the Philips CD-i has been noted as the world’s most revolutionary video game console by generation after generation of gamers, and I am no different. To have skipped the timeless classic, Zelda’s Adventure, is a sin which I cannot make up for, but the mistake was mine. It seems the list I used to stay on track only mentions cannon Zelda titles. Despite not being recognized by Nintendo, this mountain of awesomeness deserves to be immortalized by my pen if I am to truly find the greatest Zelda game. Let us begin.
Those of us who have watched even a single film starring Julia Roberts know that all men are dirt and will stop at nothing to make your life hell. Flipping the series’ misogynistic, stereotypical writing on its head was the only sensible solution. A series with only a male protagonist is doomed to fail. That’s why Mega Man never sold more than a million copies.
With Zelda as the protagonist rather than Link for once, the series finally came into its own. Link being locked away was a genius move on the part of director Anna Roth. It was like the marvelous story from the original Donkey Kong had been refreshed just by swapping the genders of those involved.
In order to save Link, Zelda had to recover the seven Celestial Signs. After Ganon stole these signs and kidnapped Link, the land of Tolemac was plunged into an Age of Darkness. Zelda was luckily able to discover their whereabouts as she was assisted by Gaspra, the Court Astrologer of Tolemac. In case you didn’t notice, Tolemac is Camelot spelled backwards, so let’s give mad props to the writing team on that one.
After defeating Ganon, Link and Zelda FINALLY hold hands, signalling the first official shipping in the series. They cared about each other enough that they’d save each other from Ganon. A love like that doesn’t come along every day.
Between a perfect love story, the most clever kingdom name since the original Camelot, and bonus points for a female protagonist because CHICKS RULE, I find Zelda’s Adventure worthy of a perfect ten.
I don’t know about you, but I love taking time with my games, and every screen in the original Zelda loaded far too quickly for my tastes. In A Link to the Past, environments became more seamless, which made for a rushed experience where you could not truly take anything in.
In Zelda’s Adventure, the one-square one-screen approach of the original game was perfected by allowing several seconds to load the next screen. You really got to know the screen you were on before you left it, and that made every screen very memorable and easy to return to. If you have never experienced it before, go check a gameplay video on YouTube. It’s invigorating.
The best part about playing the game was that you never knew what weapon you would need to defeat any given enemy, making you constantly improvise in combat. Some enemies could not be defeated except with particular weapons, and having no way to know that meant you constantly had to resort to trial and error like the Zelda series is known for. In addition, when you got to a foe you could not yet defeat, you got a nice taste of backtracking, but much lengthier backtracking than a Metroid game or something because of the five second load times between each screen. It was just plain awesome.
Between the ability to really soak in the scenery and a clever inventory system, I can chock up a 17 out of 10 for gameplay.
Adding FMV to the series can obviously be credited to Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon, but again they really nailed it this time. The flawless animation was only complemented by stunning voice work. Simply put, no other video game in 1994 had quite the level of detail found here.
Within games like Final Fantasy VII going forward, many titles tossed around ideas like hand-drawn backgrounds, and I believe many of them hearken back to this game. While not spending quite as much time on the visuals, they managed to one-up Square’s JRPG giant by using real photography to create the backgrounds. Clips were taken from video shot by helicopters over Hawaii and in parts of Los Angeles, and others pieced together from the developers’ vacation photos. Using the stellar processing power of the CD-i, the team managed to create the most photorealistic Zelda game to date.
I can’t say enough to praise the graphical prowess of this console, and how well utilized it was for this game. 984 out of 10.
About this time last year, we were all being blown away by the phenomenal voice work in Breath of the Wild. Fawning over the flawless accent of Patricia Summersett, awestruck by Sean Chiplock’s inexplicable power to sound like he’s an ancient tree, or whoever you thought was best, we were all blown away.
What if I told you that the series had voice acting over twenty years prior to that game? Mind. Blown. Again instilled in the series in the first two CD-i titles, voice acting is one of those things that literally every Zelda fan yearned for since day one, even before any voice acting had ever been successfully integrated into video games. It is a shame that it did not return for over two decades, and we ought to be ashamed of the sound team of every Zelda in that time for that reason.
Also I’m not going into detail because I think it needs to be experienced firsthand to really get it, but the music is the best in any video game ever except for DOOM 2016. I award the sound category an E out of 10. I’m not sure how high that number is, but I can put it into my calculator so I think it’s reasonable.
Huzzah, another title has been inspected under the Lens of Truth. If you have been counting along at home, Zelda’s Adventure has scored well past being called the greatest game of all time, and all other games ought to bow before its mighty feet. Now as always, I would like to hear what you think. Should I have given the graphics a higher score? Is Zelda as the protagonist not the best possible thing that could happen to the series? Should I have examined the other two CD-i games first? Whatever your thoughts, I’m sure they are not as good as mine, since I am a semi-professional, published writer (on a fansite). If you feel the need to squabble amongst ourselves, I would be more than happy to oblige, just reach out on Twitter or in the comments below. Let’s keep the conversation loading!