Last Generation Gamer: The Legend of Zelda (NES - 1986) - The Greatest Open World Game Ever

Last Generation Gamer is Seed Sings way of reflecting on the greatest video games that were released before the current gen systems.  These are not necessarily reviews.  Let's look at these thoughts as a walk down memory lane.  If you have any ideas for Last Generation Gamer contact us

The Legend of Zelda is the greatest open world game in the history of the entire video game industry.  I know that is a bold statement for a game released nearly 30 years ago (1986 in Japan 1987 in the US).  Since the release of The Legend of Zelda we have experienced some epic Final Fantasy worlds, the Grand Theft Auto series, and the Elder Scroll games to name just a few of the open world games that are currently occupying our consoles.  Legend of Zelda was one of the first open world games to be a commercial success, and it came out decades before the genre was defined.

How is Legend of Zelda even considered an open world game (says the reader I am thinking will have this exact question)?  Go ahead and turn it on, I can wait.  Now that your Wii, DS, Wii U, or (if you are truly hardcore) your Nintendo Entertainment System has loaded the start screen, begin a new game.  The screen should show Link and a cave to the north.  I dare you to go any way except in the cave.  Did the game drag you back to the cave?  No, it let you move to the next screen filled with enemies (either tektites or octoroks).  Your only option is to keep moving, unfortunately since we skipped the cave their is no wooden sword to use and dispatch the enemies.  If you are very good at dodging the monsters, and have a lot of luck, you can make it through every screen on the over world map without ever going into the first cave. Not many of the open world games of today will let you visit every part of the main map when you first start the game. Games like the Elder Scroll series (Skyrim, an upcoming Last Generation Gamer column)  make you play a short introductory quest before you have access to the whole over world.  

It is possible to complete The Legend of Zelda and never grab the wooden sword.  There are rupees hidden under Armos (the statues you touch to wake up) in the over world.  Get some rupees, get some bombs, get two more heart containers, then get the white sword.  The old man who offered you the wooden sword because of the dangers outside is not as helpful as he previously led on.  You actually could complete the game without any sword.  That would require a lot of time, rupees, ,and luck.  The possibility alone makes for many more options of playing through and winning a game that came out nearly 30 years ago.

I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of today's open world games.  The ability to forget about the main story when you see some dingy hole in the ground weirdly appeals to my senses.  I never grouped The Legend of Zelda into the open world category until I started to try different play through on my Wii.  I have yet to attempt to go through the whole game without a sword (I do believe that would be impossible on the second quest).  I do however try each different session by skipping as many of the early dungeons, and leaving them for the end.  Try out your own out of order, or lack of items play through.  I guarantee you will find the excitement and difficulty on par with anything running on your current console.  You may just rediscover the most open world game ever created.

RD Kulik

RD Kulik is the creator and Head Editor for Seed Sing.  He is currently playing through all of the great games (and some mediocre ones) on his new Xbox 360.