Pixels and Bits

Pixels and Bits
When the Sequel Is Worse Than the Original

Liz Finnegan | 14 Jul 2015 12:30
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Exhibit B: The Legend of Zelda


In addition to introducing the world to the most revolutionary technological advancement in the history of the video game industry - the ability to save progress at any point via internal battery and RAM chip - The Legend of Zelda, released in 1986, provided players with a sensational feeling of wonder, excitement, and eagerness to embrace the unknown. The environment is designed in such a way that encourages exploration, with most areas - and dungeons - being fully accessible from the moment you first blow off the bottom of your cartridge (joking aside, seriously do NOT blow on the cartridge). The player assumes the role of the young hero Link, who navigates a vast overworld while gathering 8 fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom, split by the kidnapped Princess Zelda, in the effort to defeat the evil pig-like villain Ganon.

Less than one year later, players eagerly embraced the release of The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Where the first game produced characters who offered clues to navigating the adventure, the sequel gave very little as far as storyline or progression. Princess Zelda is in a coma, and if it weren't for the included manual you would have absolutely no clue why. When following what was arguably the most spectacular interactive coming of age tale of all time, it fell flat.

Lucky for game enthusiasts across the globe, it was not yet time to say goodbye to our beloved hero. Taking more time than before, 1991 arrived alongside the monumental The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past. Learning from the mistakes of the past, an impressive prologue was added, establishing the backstory of the game. Link awakens in his bed, hearing telepathic messages from Princess Zelda, who is being held in the castle prison. He navigates Hyrule through different realms, on a mission to save the 7 descendents of the Sages, defeat Ganon, and once again save the day. A Link To The Past introduced players to items such as the Master Sword, Ocarina, Hookshot, and greatest of all, alternate dimensions, all of which would be used in many future titles.

A Link To The Past provided not one expansive land to explore, but two. The detail-packed light and dark worlds, both mirror images of one another, allowed each world to influence the other and encouraged exploration in one of the most magical titles of all time. Thanks to The Legend of Zelda, a game no longer had to be completed in a single sitting. And thanks to time spent developing a more cohesive storyline, A Link To The Past added flesh to the solid skeleton delivered by the original title, propelling the franchise further towards the status of "legendary." The nearly flawless combination of action, adventure, and fantasy cemented A Link To The Past as one of the most beloved games in the industry's history.

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