This was actually the second game I ever downloaded for the Virtual Console, as I watch the Wiiviewer's Let's Play series for it, and I thought it looked pretty fun. After playing a demo version on Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I decided that since it was a 500 point game, I'd buy it, because I'm a big Zelda fan.
Now you wouldn't really expect much from such an old game, ordinarily. However, this is actually an excellent title, probably my 2nd favorite Zelda title of all time.
I'm sure you're thinking, "Oh my GOD! Element Knight 375 is CRAZY! There are so many Zelda games in the world, so why did he pick the OLDEST ONE to be one of his favorites!?" Looking at myself, I can see what you mean by that, but there's a reason I like The Legend of Zelda so much. The first title I ever played was Twilight Princess, and it has great combat mechanics, gameplay, and character representation. It also happens to be ABSURDLY COMPLICATED. I mean, you had to solve all sorts of intricate puzzles, go between rooms repeatedly, find items, manage them, and go through incredibly long levels and dungeons (although it is excellent). This is why I find the first tile so refreshing; it captures perfectly the soul and spirit of the entire series, with its great characters, classic enemies, and well-known items, but its also something of a nice test of resourcefulness and skill that is consistently much more fully blown in later titles.
The basic idea of the game is to just explore, finding secrets and locating dungeons, as well as showing your skill in battling enemies. This is the thing I like about it: there are no side-quests, or hundreds of characters to talk to, or puzzles that you have to use FAQs and walkthroughs as well as lots of time to figure out. You just have to navigate the overworld and work your way through the dungeons in any order. This makes it an easy Zelda experience, which is the big reason why I like it.
There are also other things; for example, the game controls really well. The sword always responded, the shield blocking worked well, the bombs are nicely realistic, and the physics on the boomerangs are surprisingly advanced. Heart containers are also scattered everywhere, and I like that they were just there -- you know, you didn't have to stuggle and scrounge just to get another heart in your meter.
The enemy AI is inspired, because it's really challenging and requires careful strategy and cunning to overcome. I think this is a really relieving fact, because video games have to be challenging, and challenge is also what Zelda is all about.
The game itself is also phenomenal; the character design, for its time, is utterly fantastic, and I loved not only the feel of the dungeons but also the novelty of the enemies, the way I feel like I recognize them. The items were also great -- it had all of the classic ones: bombs, arrows, boomerangs, silver arrows, and also little-to-be-found ones like the candle, the ladder, the raft, the book, and more. It also had features like rings that made you harder to kill, and two other swords: the White Sword and Master Sword, which make you more powerful. And I liked the system they had of giving you the swords once you had a certain amount of hearts, because I see it as a nice reward for the hard work.
There weren't a lot of things I didn't like about the game. The only big problem I find is with the overworld, because you just have to wander around, sometimes to places you're not ready for, because you have no idea where any of the other dungeons are, not even the next one. It would have been nice if there were some way, like an item in a dungeon or just some secret, where you can be guided to the exact next dungeon in the series. This would give you the option to explore if you want, but also gives you some ghost of an idea where to go next.
This game can be described as nothing but a masterpiece; it's a perfect representation of what Zelda is all about and it's more than absolutely worth the money for a 500 point NES title. It's fun, adventurous, exciting, and challenging, and you should definitely buy it now.
For perhaps the greatest FAQ photo possible for this game, click here .