The original Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic and beloved video games ever made. It didn't invent the adventure genre (That was the appropriately titled Adventure), but it definitely perfected it. Yet, as famous as the game is it still has secrets that the average gamer may not be aware of. So cue up the treasure jingle and prepare to reveal some of those hidden rupees.
See also: Zelda at the Symphony is Truly Legendary
Link Was Based on Peter Pan: It's probably no surprise that Shigeru Miyamoto is a big fan of Disney films. The graphical limitations of the NES necessitated some creative solutions to making your sprites memorable, and pointed ears and a green hat were Miyamoto's choice for making Link unique. The idea reminded him of Disney's Peter Pan, and influenced aspects of the series from fairies to the Kokiri always being children.
Half of It was Supposed to Take Place in the Future: Have you ever wondered why Link is called that? The reason is that Zelda was supposed to take place in both the distant past and the distant future, and Link would be the "link" between them. The futuristic setting idea has never really been explored further, though there are sketches for A Link to the Past showing Princess Zelda in a more space-themed costume proving that the idea is still kicking around. This is somewhat ironic because...
It's One of the Last Games in the Series Chronologically: The exact history of the games was a subject of intense debate and speculation among fans for more than 20 years. Recently Nintendo released the Hyrule Historia which laid out the strange and branching possible histories that the games encompass. The odd thing is that the first game and its NES sequel are the last games in the known mythology. They actually do take place in the distant future, but only in a future where Link failed to defeat Ganon in Ocarina of Time. That means that the title that started it all was not only near the end of the story, it's also the least likely game to actually happen
Zelda Was Named for Zelda Fitzgerald: How exactly did a Japanese game designer end up naming his princess Zelda? According to Miyamoto, "Zelda was the name of the wife of the famous novelist Francis Scott Fitzgerald. She was a famous and beautiful woman from all accounts, and I liked the sound of her name. So I took the liberty of using her name for the very first Zelda title." That seems like a much better tribute than her husband gave her, which was to lift passages from her diaries for his novels, forbid her to publish the diaries lest his source dry up, and call her novel awful to destroy her confidence to publish another. Speaking of tributes...
Robin Williams Named His Daughter After Princess Zelda: In one of the most heart-warming and dad-centric video game commercials ever made, Robin Williams talks about naming his daughter after the legendary princess of Hyrule. Both father and daughter are fans of the series, and Robins has expressed interest in voicing Ganon should a movie ever get off the ground.
Piece continues on next page.
An Original Cartridge Can Be Worth $150,000: Part of the lasting appeal of the game is that it was delivered in those eye-catching sparkly gold cartridges. Finding one of those isn't hard since they were made in the millions. Later runs saw the game produced in a plain classic grey as with other games. However, if you happen to come across a flat gold prototype copy, it could be worth an incredible amount of money. Last year a seller on eBay put up one of the rare copies asking $150,000. Seller Tjcurtin1 accepted a Best Offer from a private message, and while we don't know how much he finally sold it for it was likely considerable.
You Were Supposed to Shout at the Game: There is a little-discussed difference between the Famicon controllers and the NES controllers, and that is that the Famicon controllers had microphones. It was never a widely used feature, but in Zelda the Pols could be defeated by yelling into the mike. The manual's description that the big-eared enemies were hurt by loud noises made Americans believe the recorder was their weakness when it actually does nothing since NES controllers had no mike. That said, the weakness was still programmed into the game, and if you get your hands on a Famicon controller it should work on an American cartridge.
It Was Actually a Crossover Game: Long before Link and Mario were fighting each other on Smash Brother Link was actually already having crossover battles from all over the video game universe. The boss Manhandla is supposed to be a four-headed piranha plant from Super Mario Bros. More obscure is the boss Digdogger, which is meant to be a giant version of the unira enemies from Clu Clu Land. The famous rupee also borrowed its sprite from Clu Clu Land.
The Second Quest Was an Afterthought: The Legend of Zelda was a game of mind-blowing length at the time of its release. Nintendo was actually thinking of not releasing it in America over concerns that we wouldn't be interested in something so long and epic. Despite this, the game itself only took up half of the cartridge's available memory. Not wanting to waste it, it was decided to offer a second quest with some changes to add to the playing time.
There's a Swastika Hidden in It: The dungeon maps in the game are all supposed to represent things, such as eagles or moons. The third dungeon (First quest) is in the shape of a swastika. Now, the symbol is actually a traditional Eastern representation of good fortune, in Japanese called a manji, and it was a hipster-like faddish spread of the symbol in the Western world that lead Adolf Hitler flipping it around and turning it into a universal symbol of hatred and genocide. Ironically, it's not that unlikely that someone like Ganon would lay out a dungeon in so hated a shape.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.