The Legend of Zelda(JP) (later released as The Legend of Zelda 1(JP) in Japan) is an NES high fantasy, action-adventure game. It was first released in Japan as a Famicom Disk System game in February of 1986.

The next year it would release in both North America and Europe. It is generally regarded as one of the most important video games of all time. The game was created by industry veterans Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka.

The Legend of Zelda was ranked as the number one video game of all time in the 200th issue of Game Informer. Super Mario Bros. was ranked number two.


Spoiler warning: The following information contains spoilers. Please read at your own risk.

The Legend of Zelda is set in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Hyrule, a beautiful, peaceful and prosperous land surrounded by mountains and forests. For many centuries, the kings of Hyrule used the power of the magical Triforce of Wisdom, a sacred golden triangle containing the knowledge of the gods, to ensure the health and happiness of its citizens. One day, the demon king, Ganon learned of the Triforce of Wisdom and invaded from a nearby kingdom. Leading an army of monsters using his own Triforce, the Triforce of Power, he seized control of Hyrule and plunged the land into darkness. All was not lost, however, as the young princess, Princess Zelda, having a prophetic dream of Ganon's coming broke the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and scattered them across the kingdom to eight underground dungeons to protect them. Enraged, Ganon captured the princess and left her maid Impa to die. The wandering knight errant, Link found Impa and nursed her back to health, learning of what had happened, he set out to reassemble the Triforce of Wisdom to save Zelda and stop Ganon.

Main Characters[]

  • Link: The main protagonist and hero of the game. Link is a wandering knight errant with pointed ears, clad in a tunic of forest green. He happened upon an injured Impa and learned of Hyrule's plight. With a sword in his left hand and a shield in his right, Link sets off to find the 8 pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, and rescue Princess Zelda from the demon king Ganon. Along the way Link will find many magical weapons and tools to help his out such as a bow and arrows, bombs, a boomerang, magical rings, a magical flute and a magic wand.
  • Zelda: Zelda is one of the main characters in the game that gets kidnapped by Ganon. Before she was kidnapped, she shattered the triforce, and scattered the pieces throughout the land, when she then sent out Impa to find a hero, whom is Link.
  • Ganon: In the game, Ganon kidnaps Zelda, and takes her to his dungeon, Link must fight through 8 bosses before coming to him, where he must fight him with his sword and arrows. Ganon will then start warping around the room throwing fire balls at you. Once you defeat him, Zelda will be saved, and you will be able to start the second quest.

Minor Bosses[]

  • Aquamentus: What kind of fantasy would The Legend of Zelda be without at least one dragon? Aquamentus waits for players in the roots of a giant dead tree, guarding its treasure, from all who dare approach. This green dragon is the first boss in the game and will spit three fire balls that spread out in an arc which can only be blocked with the Magical Shield. The unicorn-like horn on the top of its head is its weak point.
  • Digdogger: A sea urchin with a big red eye in the middle. It is highly susceptible to sound and can be separated into three defeatable parts by blowing the magic whistle.
  • Dondongo: A fire breathing orange dinosaur that resembles a carnivorous triceratops. An ancient beast living deep underground, the Dodongo's thick scales protect it from sword and bow, but it's not very smart. Tricking it into eating a bomb will damage its vulnerable insides.
  • Gleeok: A multi-headed green hydra with up to four heads. The heads of this boss will fly around the room trying to attack Link, after they have been cut off.
  • Gohma: A big spider boss with an eye as his weak point. The only way to kill the boss is to shoot arrows into the eye.
  • Manhandla: A plant boss with four heads. You must defeat all the heads and then the boss to win the battle.
  • Patra: An enemy resembling a large fly, it has smaller, fly like enemies surrounding it, moving in a cirular pattern around it. Sometimes the small flies pattern will change to increase difficulty.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.



Link in the overworld.

The gameplay incorporated four different genres into one game: action, adventure, RPG's, and puzzles. It had a huge overworld with dungeons and houses that would lead to an indoor setting with plenty of enemies and puzzles. The main goal of the game is to gather all the 8 pieces of the triforce, defeat Ganon, and save Zelda. But to do that, you must travel through labyrinths and dungeons destroying all the bosses and collecting new items that would help you defeat Ganon.

One interesting point in the game is that you do not have to collect every item or heart piece that you come across, as it's your choice to get it or just pass it by. If you do, it would of course help you beat the game.

The game featured 8 bosses and many enemies. Once you beat the game (or put your save file's name as 'Zelda'), you can play the second quest which completely reorganizes Hyrule and the dungeons for a new challenge. The magic whistle will also let you do more things than in the previous quest.

It should be noted that, unlike the future Zelda titles, this game is nonlinear, with no guidance whatsoever. The game is also heavily reliant on the map included with the cartridge. Otherwise, it's possible to accidentally enter dungeon 8 first and the levels can be competed in any order, with the exception of the final level which is only accessible after the first eight are completed.


Interestingly, the team that worked on Super Mario Bros. was working on The Legend of Zelda at the same time. According to the developers, they would often remove some aspects of one game and bring them to the other. For example, the spinning fire bars from Super Mario Bros. were initially featured in The Legend of Zelda, though Shigeru Miyamoto decided that they would fit better in Mario's game. The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. were the first games that Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, and Toshihiko Nakago all worked on together as a team. The first part of the game that was added were the dungeons. Then the team suggested that they expand that and add an open world which Link could traverse that would connect all of the dungeons together.

Originally, The Legend of Zelda was being developed as an arcade game before the team decided to release it as the first Famicom Disk System title.


There are various mistranslations throughout the game. In subsequent ports, the entire intro was rewritten.

Some examples of mistranslations include:

  • Dodongo dislikes smoke - the phrase should be "Dodongo hates smoke".
  • Secret is in the tip of the nose - It could possibly be better phrased as "there is a secret at the nose".
  • Digdogger hates certain kind of sound - Properly translated as "Digdogger hates a specific sound".
  • All of treasures - Subsequent ports omit the "of", though it could also have been simplified to "treasures".
  • Look up the manual for details - properly translated as "see the manual for details"

Release List[]


  • There are various Easter eggs throughout the game. Some reveal areas where you can either get a red potion or (more preferably) a heart container. Others reveal a strange creature who will give you up to 100 rupees, claiming that "It's a secret to everybody". Some secret areas are stores.
  • The "White Sword" in the game may have evolved into the Kokiri Sword.
  • The Magical Shield may have evolved into the Fire Shield in A Link to the Past.
  • Unlike the later games, heart containers can be acquired in ways other than defeating a boss. This was later changed to heart piece.
    • Also, one can acquire several items and upgrades before even entering the first dungeon. A Link to the Past changed it to make this more gradual and linear; this has been the standard ever since.
  • The "power bracelet" may have evolved into the Goron Bracelet.
  • The game was awarded "Best Challenge" in the 1988 Nintendo Power Awards.
  • This is the first game to have open world gameplay.
  • One dungeon is shaped like a manji, which resembles a swastika. The manji is a positive symbol in Buddhism, and actually faces the opposite direction from the symbol used by the Nazi Party of Germany.


The Legend of Zelda was received largely positively. In Japan, it sold over a million copies on its first day. It was also the first game to sell over a million copies in the United States in 1987. It sold around three million copies in the United States by 1990, and around 6.51 million worldwide. Famitsu gave it five stars and listed it as the third best game of the year, and Nintendo Power called it the best NES game ever created. Flux placed it second of the 100 best video games of all time in 1995, Game Informer placed it first, and in 2016 it was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

In 1997, the game was ranked at #11 in Nintendo Power's 100 Best Games of All Time, as printed in Nintendo Power V100. 100 issues later, in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games, it was moved up to #7. And in the magazine's 20th anniversary issue, The Legend of Zelda was ranked #1 on the NES list for Nintendo Power's Best of the Best.

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