I was also a Zelda dabbler, having spent my '90s with the PlayStation and PC. The first one I played was Wind Waker, which came with the GameCube I bought off someone for fifty quid at a dubious Manchester club in 2004. I played it and liked it until all the shard busywork at the end. Then I moved onto Ocarina from the bonus disc, dug it for what it was, but also fell off around the Water Temple under what I'll chalk up to, er, similar circumstances.

Bounced hard off Twilight Princess. Played a bunch of Link to the Past on the Wii's Virtual Console. Poked at Phantom Hourglass with my stylus to little avail.

In 2016, I met the woman who would become my wife. She turned out to be an obsessive Zelda fan who couldn't understand how I'd never finished the ones I'd played. We played Ocarina together on the Wii U, planning to get to the end, until that cursed machine inexplicably ate our save more than halfway through. No matter, she said. Breath of the Wild will be out soon. We'll play that together.

And we did, for hundreds of hours, and I couldn't believe what I was playing. I'm still in awe of the purity of its design — how its cascading structure is laid out in front of the player from the start with each element affecting the next. I only ever played it with her next to me on the sofa, and I barely thought about anything else for months. It's without question my favourite game of all time.

And now it's past midnight in Japan and we should probably be playing Tears of the Kingdom right this second. Unfortunately we decided to order the physical version in order to get a limited-edition Zelda spoon. But there is little I've looked forward to in life more than starting this game together once it shows up tomorrow.

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Beautiful, thank you for sharing! (You guys get a *spoon*?? Weirdly jealous.)

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Some people get a fork as well but we didn't want to go too hard.


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May 11, 2023·edited May 11, 2023Liked by Nathan Brown

OOT for me as well. Back end of Uni but not like I was doing any work anyway and having lots of extra curricular activities like yourself. Ahem... ;o)

Spent well over a month completely enthralled and amazed by it. That bloody Water Temple (no internet guides then, well maybe Gamefaqs but sod that!) but saw it through to it's glorious end.

Loved every magical second. Beautiful memories.

Now, I was trying to resist TOTK but who am I kidding. I'm going to have to buy a Switch again...just to play Zelda, again!

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May 11, 2023·edited May 11, 2023Liked by Nathan Brown

My first Zelda was, of course, Ocarina of Time. I was never into Nintendo games prior to the N64, and I only had my console for a few months before OoT came out. I was, however, big into reading Gamesmaster front to back, and reading their preview of OoT instantly got me interested.

It came out on a day that my wonderful school decided to arrange an evening at the local theatre, and so I still vividly remember finishing school, walking to town, picking up the game from EB, and then reading the back of the box repeatedly in the few hours between buying it and the theatre show starting.

I ended up getting home around 11pm that night (a Friday), and despite having been at school all day prior to the theatre, decided to put my powers of youth to work and stay up playing for a while.

The only time the N64 was off that weekend was for 5 minutes while I whipped downstairs to get some dinner on Saturday night. Otherwise I played solidly from 11pm Friday to around 8pm Sunday... no sleep, no breaks from the controller or my bedroom (other than to pee occasionally).

I was just swept up in the possibilities, the visuals and music, the puzzles, combat, open world... it was unlike anything I'd ever played to that point, and it remained my personal GOAT game, well, until BotW.

I've replayed it more times than I can count, and have bought it one too many times on various platforms, but even to this day, when I boot up I get transported back to that eye-opening day and the joy just comes flooding back to me. An utter wonder of a game that very few games ever came close to matching.

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The lovely thing about living in Hong Kong is that retailers have no respect for release dates: when they get a game, they sell it. I got Breath of the Wild (and the Switch) two days early; I got Tears of the Kingdom two days early. (I got the PS5 a day late, but considering we were in the middle of hardcore flight bans and quarantine for all travelers, I consider that a not-so-minor miracle.)

So, Ocarina of Time was maybe one of the most hyped games ever, with the added air of mystery that games back then had because it was 1998 and video on the internet was relatively rare. And I was, of course, determined to get it early.

A full two weeks ahead of launch I resolved to hit the shops every. single. day. And every day I came up empty: searching through a dozen shops in the crowded gaming Mecca of Golden Computer Arcade. On the last few days I’d even started going twice -- once early on, and again late in the evening just in case it arrived in between.

And so we get to the day before launch, and still no sign of it. I was about to give up when I heard the sound of a video game horse galloping.

Hrm. Hang on. Isn’t there a horse in Ocarina of Time?

Soft piano music kicks in. This isn’t any game I’ve heard before. Can it be...?

I dart around the corner, and there it is: the Legend of Zelda logo, surrounded by flames, with Link riding Epona under the full moon.

Every time I boot up Ocarina of Time -- and I’ve played it a fair few times -- that title screen hits different to any other game, because it takes me back to that very special time and place when the hunt ended and I found myself finally staring at one of the most eagerly awaited games ever made.

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One more from me, but a much shorter story I promise!

Again, being from HK, we had the Japanese Famicom Disk version of Zelda 1. I was a little too young for it anyway and being unable to read the admittedly sparse text didn’t help.

Still, my uncles played it and talked about it a lot. Only they didn’t call it Zelda, because the game (and box and title screen) was in Japanese. Instead, it was universally referred to as “that holy game”, because Link’s shield had a cross on it.

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I lived in HK as a teenager and young adult, and picked up my copy of OOT at Golden Arcade too!

It was Christmas 1998 and I got one of the last copies after trawling various other spots including Mong Kok and Wan Chai.

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My first Zelda was Link to the Past on the SNES, which to this day remains my stock answer to "What's your favourite game?".

I have very fond memories of the half term my brother and I spent playing it 1993. We were in our mid-teens, taking alternate turns every hour and/or after each death. We had the PAL version which came with a little hint booklet that proved invaluable early on. We beat the game in a week, and then proceeded to replay it with our own saves in which we both ground out a full 100% completion with all the hearts, upgrades, etc.

I've played every Zelda since then - even Four Swords using a Gamecube and 4 GBAs, during one highly coordinated Sunday afternoon that I'm sure every participant remembers fondly.

The standout series entries since LttP for me are Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild.

I bought a large widescreen CRT TV due to WW's staggering visuals. Sailing across the waves in 480p component in 60Hz with progressive scan... beautiful stuff.

When GTA V was launched in the twilight of the 360/PS3 generation, myself and a fellow former dev colleague (ex-graphics programmer from Rare) would frequently comment on how only witchcraft explained what R* had managed to achieve on those consoles.

I feel exactly the same way about BotW on Switch. BotW was just a staggering achievement - a technical and design miracle of modern game development.

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It’s always excellent, but I just loved the wide-eyed, decades-spanning enthusiasm of this one.

Grown adult and reasonably responsible hack here who has booked two full days off next week just for this game. I think we maybe have a similar Zelda relationship — fucked if I know what the Hyrule Historia says but giddy about every new one.

Some Zelda memories that have lasted despite the faulty brain of a dude with an 18 month old daughter:

— Kid brother buying Link to the Past on the Game Boy, nicking it and playing it under the duvet until daft o clock. Dead in the third dungeon? You bet. But what charm! What joy in getting to the overworld and being able to just mooch! Stealing!

— Wind Waker: full teen hype mode by now. Read Edge and NGC for the skinny. My first mainline Zelda so it every single element feels fresh. Open seas! The theme tune! TINGLE!!! The first game where I felt scope really mattered. Obviously gave up on the final boss, drifted off games and became a moody goth. But I’ll be back.

— Skyward Sword: bounced off it hard in 2011 as I started full time work — only to pick it back up in 2014 with longterm partner and enjoy every second, motion controls and all. Gave a fading relationship another few months of joy and giggles. Thank you Nintendo!

— Breath of the Wild: zero interest in a Wii U game by 2016… what am I, a monster??? And then the reviews start dropping. Fine. I NEED a Switch. Christ they’re sold

out. Am I… buying a Wii U in 2017? For one game? Okay. Cancel entire life. Wake up at 5 every day just to play. Keep climbing. Keep gliding. Cry a bit. Write to Edge about how this beautiful, understated yet somehow still epic game made me love games again, and staved off the blues. Never look back.

One hour to go 😊

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My first Zelda was the NES version. It wasn't my game as a good friend bought it at computer show in London and then generously let his brother and me play it with him. We took turns exploring the game, each of us settling in to our own direction of travel from the start point until we died and handed it onto the next person. It really was open world in that sense and also reflected our hobby of rambling around the countryside looking for new sights. We were utterly and pleasurably addicted, we'd enjoyed Spectrum and C64 games before but never had that feeling of thinking about a game every waking hour. I cycled the two and a bit miles to their house every day, going home for lunch then racing back, one time having a near miss with a car in my haste to return to Hyrule.

Some time later we got to the last dungeon and wanted to hold on to the feeling as long as possible, rationing out our last few hours. A slightly sad end when it finished but it remains one my best gaming experiences ever, shared with friends, magical and new.

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Sorry, another one...

Not even playing the game this one. Instead, on a chartered yacht trip in Australia years ago in my youth. The skipper went below deck for a bit and left me steering the boat. His instructions were "you see that small island over there? Just keep heading for that."

The empty sea, just the sound of the waves and the rigging.. Needless to say what music was playing over and over in my mind.

God I love that music.

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One of my fondest Zelda memories is living in a grimy student house in '94 with three other fellow wasters. We had a SNES and a copy of Link To the Past and a crap little portable TV. We were all playing it and took turns, sat in the corner with the screen facing away from the rest of the room so that we wouldn't spoil anything for anyone else. But we could still hear what was going on and could still point and laugh when we heard someone dying over and over on a boss fight.

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I'd not really thought too much it until you mentioned here but each Zelda really does come with a memorable real-life story, such as buying the last discounted GameCube + Wind Waker in a closing-down MVC store by beating my best friend in a best-of-three rock/paper/scissors match (with an amused till assistant looking on), or the agonising weeks of studying the OoT box art and manual whilst I waited for my brother to bring back our N64 home from uni.

But honestly my fondest Zelda connections all come back to my daughter. Before becoming a parent I would daydream out what I thought might be the 'optimal' way to introduce my offspring to videogames: start out with the classics and go from there, the first game has to be Super Mario Bros, etc.

I never really expected the first game to really capture and engage her attention at the age of 4 would be Majora's Mask! I had noticed that she was interested in exploring towns (we had played Gravity Rush together) but shied away from combat, so Clock Town turned out to be the perfect playground for her to get to grips with a 3DS - detailed enough to look like a real town with people going about their lives, but also not too large as to be overwhelming or to get lost in. The apocalyptic moon wasn't even a detractor as she loved Halloween and spooky things - this was a game she would eventually want to explore completely with me, and I loved showing it all to her, rediscovering characters I'd forgotten and finding new corners I'd never noticed with a new pair of eyes beside me to point the way.

Over the four years since then we've played pretty much all of the Zelda series together now and it's given me a new appreciation for many of them - I didn't care much for Skyward Sword when I first played it, but rediscovering it together has made me realise it's one of my absolute favourites. We disagree on many things still, though: she won't be drawn to my beloved LttP at all ("It looks too blocky!"), and I have less regard for her favourite, Twilight Princess (though I do begrudgingly concede her pick has the most fantastic dungeons in the series). Our long and meandering journey through BotW was a highlight, feeling like a victory lap for me but a wide open world of exploration for her at the same time. Quick shoutout to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which I would have absolutely overlooked myself but turned out to be a wonderful game that turned the tables on us - she has enjoyed playing it over and over again and I will happily watch along with her as the care spent on its presentation makes AoC feel like a true extension of the BotW world.

And so we come to the new one, the first new release we get to experience together. She's excited at the prospect of a Zelda game where, for once, I don't know any more about what will happen next than she does. I fear that her current obsession with Roblox will prevent her from keeping up with my insatiable desire to delve into this new world; maybe I just have to work a bit harder on my 'surprised' face with her as I carry on with my secret, separate profile for after-hours play...

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Glad I saved this one. Great work. Didn’t realise you spent most of your twenties “off your face” too. Aaaaaaaaaaah, good times.

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Majora's Mask was an interesting launch for me due to my mother's combined religious fervor and bipolar manic episode. Ocarina had changed my life as it had everyone, being released when I was eight, and I could not wait for the new entry involving masks. Unfortunately, my mom heard "masks" and was sure that all masks from other cultures were of The Devil (she did not look into the fact that objects from cultures with darker skin were at large considered "bad") and made an early announcement that I would not be experiencing the world of Majora. On Christmas morning, I opened all of my presents with a very loud moan of disappointment, knowing that I would not be playing the game. Eventually my mom said "Wow didn't realize this would ruin everything. Here's the game." It was a long con and she had been waiting to surprise me with the game.

She still burned my Harry Potter books, though.

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