Waltzing M’Zelda

Hey I like Zelda games. Always have, and I say that without conceit because I am still brought to my knees in awe of how captivating that first Legend of Zelda for the NES is in its entire presentation.

I will tell you a story of the 1980’s.

My elementary school had an after school program called Wonderful Weekdays. It was held in the lunchroom (I did not know the word ‘cafeteria’ then), and there I would remain until one of my parents got off work and could pick me up. At Wonderful Weekdays I had friends and I had peers, but once the supervisors allowed one of the kids to bring in their NES and hook it up to the lunchroom’s TV on the wheeled cart, I had only friends. It was not my first encounter and I may have had a vague idea of what a rad thing this Nintendo (or as the Korean supervisor at Wonderful Weekdays said, “Intendo”) could be. But it wasn’t until that day that someone produced a shiny gold cartridge from among the grays, fed it to the NES and powered it on that I became hopelessly fascinated and quickly obsessed. The moment – the very fucking moment it powered on, the haunting theme of the Legend of Zelda began singing throughout that corner the lunchroom, and I’d like to imagine that everyone there shut their mouths in reverence and let it play all the way through the intro. Probably not how it went down, but that’s how the scene would play out in the movie of my life. That melody.. no, that score played in my mind in incomplete fragments for weeks and I spent many hours daydreaming, trying to remember how it went, patching parts together and then forgetting them completely, all the while praying for my next chance to play that game again. Wonderful Weekdays was an utter bust. The chaos that resulted from kids clamoring for their turn to play, begging to change games, and getting crazy whenever they died soon ensured that we would never see the Intendo there ever again. But the friends remained, and we bonded over the games, passing around the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide amongst ourselves and discussing the future. Eventually, the advent of sleepovers would allow me to get my fill of gaming and finally hear that music again. I didn’t even need to play the game – just put it in and let me watch that opening scroll a couple of times. Then we can play Pro Wrestling or whatever.

That gold cartridge. That incredible music. The instantaneous nature of its commencement the moment you power on the system. It was so fucking right, and really fucking special for its time. And I still get actual gooseflesh when I hear that intro, so don’t think I’m just handing out handjobs here. The first Dragon Quest (Warrior) and Final Fantasy games tried the same thing with their definitive themes playing the moment you power on the NES, but don’t really match the impact of Zelda’s. They just don’t (although Dragon Quest’s comes closer than FF’s).

If you had told me then that I’d still be playing Zelda games 25 years later, I’d have probably said something like “No doy.” It was the 80’s, after all. But if you had shown me what Zelda would look like and play like in the future, I probably would have shit all my little guts out on the lunchroom floor and strangled you for the key to your time machine.

I’m in love, man. I really am. In the same way I have surely loved the Beatles, pizza, and boobs, I just drool over this series and don’t give a fuck. Of course, I do that with lots of games, so sorry if I come off as an adulterer the moment I start fawning over something else that is also truly special and awesome. But Zelda, I love you. It had to be you, and I’m glad it was you.

I was going to segue this into something about all the Twilight Princess we’ve been blazing through for the last two weeks, but I am drained, my sentimentalloid glands all but drowning me in dopamine and nostalgia. Another time, perhaps. After lunch, maybe.

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