The Legend of Zelda Turns 25

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Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, the greatest videogame designer of them all and a world-class storyteller, created two enduring fantasy universes. One of them involves an Italian plumber who likes to jump over things and pluck coinage from the sky–guy name of Mario, you’re surely heard of him.

The other Miyamoto masterwork is the tale of the the land of Hyrule, the setting for the Legend of Zelda series. Today is the 25th anniversary of Zelda–the original Legend of Zelda game debuted on February 21st, 1986 for the Famicom, the Japanese version of the NES console. The moody fantasy action/adventure game couldn’t be much more different from the cheery, candy-colored Marioverse; it’s impressive proof of Miyamoto’s range and ambition.

Zelda didn’t make its way to the US until 1987, but when it did, it was an addictive, influential blockbuster: I have a friend who says she lost a meaningful percentage of the late 1980s to the game. And it’s never stopped spawning sequels and offshoots ever since.

Over at Technologizer, Benj Edwards is celebrating Zelda’s big birthday by rounding up some of the game’s weirder sidelights. I didn’t know that it was named after another legendary Zelda, for instance–F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous spouse. Nor was I aware that it originally shipped on floppy disk, was once broadcast by satellite, and was the first game to let players save games in progress directly to the cartridge. Even if you know Zelda better than I know Zelda, I bet you’ll learn some new tidbits.