The Legend of Zelda
And Ode to one of the greatest
I can remember exactly when I first fell in love with this whole story line. I was a kid, watching TV at some point in the early 80's. This was a TV, mind you, that had 13 channels and a hand turned dial. At one point, the picture started to go out on that thing and we had to pound the side to death to get it to pop back in. Anyway, I digress.
I knew about the Nintendo as a game "thing" that plugged into the TV. That was all I knew about it. Then these commercials started coming on featuring a guy walking around in the dark calling out "Zelda!". That's all I can remember about it now - if anyone has a youtube of that old commercial, please send me the link! I had no idea, at the time, what the heck a Zelda was, or why this guy in a green cap was looking for it, but it was OK.
Fast forward to April of that year... whatever year it was. My parents went to some person's house that my mom worked with to get their taxes done. This lady had a son, quite a bit older than my brother and I, who actually had a Nintendo. The lady asked him to plug it in and let us play. We had no clue as to what it was, but boy... that first few seconds of brightly colored Super Mario Brothers was the magic that got me hooked (and ultimately became responsible for the career I have today).
My brother, who is 3 years my junior, had a hard time getting past the first couple of gumbas, but we had a blast. It was there, while waiting for my brother to die, that I saw the golden box "The Legend of Zelda".
I asked the Lady's kid what it was about, and he said "Oh that one is much harder. You're a guy with a sword and bombs and you have to fight off knights and octo-rocks and all sorts of things." Of course this spun my little imagination out of control. But slowly, I forgot about it until... The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! started playing and with it, the Legend of Zelda Cartoon. This show really taught me what Zelda was all about, and pulled me in forever. At the end of each show there would be a commercial for the Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link for the NES. Oh man how I dreamed, and I mean DREAMED of having that. But I didn't even own a Nintendo, let alone that game.
As a side note, I've authored hundreds of short stories and 3 novels since then. I can safely say, the first thing I ever wrote was a short story where Link saves the day and ACTUALLY got a kiss out of Zelda. In the cartoon, she was all tease, and no kiss. I felt bad for poor Link, so I put him in a world where he finally got his sweet reward. That jump started my writing career!
In any case, one Christmas my grandparents I think felt sorry for me - having to go to our friends' house to watch them play Nintendo, and decided to get us one. That night, I slept with the unopened box in my arms - There have been few Christmas's since that one where I've slept with my presents.
So then, it was deal time. My parents were pretty poor, and so getting anything was difficult. However, I was old enough to push a lawn mower around at this point so when I asked if they could buy me "Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link" they responded with "No, but why don't you go ask the neighbors if you could mow their lawns and save up the money?"
Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - so the first thing I did was set a goal - I needed 50 bucks, or so I thought. At five dollars a week from the collective neighbors, it took me FOREVER to get the money. I remember I was sitting pretty at 37 dollars, counting the weeks until I could claim the game as mine, when my parents said we had to go shopping for garden tools with my dad. BOORRRING. But oh well - off to Montgomery Ward (Or monkey ward, as my father called it). While my parents shopped, my brother and headed to the toys and video game section of the store.
And unbelievably, there was Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, in all it's shining glory, for ... $42.00! They'd reduced the cost over the previous 6 months. I was only one yard mowing away from my goal!
But then, things got even better. My dad came up to where my brother and eye were drooling over the game. He asked me, "How much do you have saved up?" "37.00 dollars dad. I am so close!" he stood there thinking about it, and then turned around and said "So, we're going to the plant nursery after this. Are you going to help me put the plants in the ground on the hillside when we get home?" I liked hanging out with my dad, and I generally liked working in the yard with him too. My small childhood mind had no idea where it was going....
"Yeah, we can plant stuff." I said.
"I think that's worth five bucks," My dad said.
"Cool! then I can come back and get the game!" I exclaimed to my brother.
My dad shook his head. "I'm not coming back today, I have too much to do, and mom has to go to grandma's."
My heart sank. I'd have to wait another week anyway.
"Oh, OK", I said, trying not to look too defeated.
"So I'll buy it for you now, then you can give me your cash when we get home. After we plant the trees, you can play the game and show me what all the hoopla is about."
I think my brother and I sang praises to my dad all the way home. I do remember sitting on the little plant cart as we walked through the plant nursery, memorizing every visual aspect of the box art. Not only did I plant those trees that day, they ended up becoming some of the tallest in the yard. My father never did understand video games, but he knew that we loved them, and he always tried to make us kids happy. It was a great time, and my first game. It's still my favorite game to this day.