Kids today have literally thousands of video games to choose from, from puzzle games to farm simulations to role-playing games to first-person shooters, many with stunning graphics in three dimensions and weird equipment shaped like guitars, magic wands and light sabers.
Maybe they donâ€™t have it so great, though. I donâ€™t think most of them have ever laid their mitts on what I consider the best video game of all time: The Legend of Zelda, the first game of a franchise of great games, which celebrated its 25th birthday this week.
Yep. My favorite game is older than a large percentage of gamers. I guess that makes me an old lady by the standards of the geek subculture. Pretty soon Iâ€™m going to be waving my cane and shouting at kids to get off my Internet.
The Legend of Zelda was a two-dimensional, eight-bit Nintendo game with a tinny, chirpy soundtrack that could worm its way into your skull and sit there, lurking, for literally decades. To this day, whenever I get a package in the mail and open it, the treasure-box-opening sound plays in my head.
As plots go, the game wasnâ€™t exactly â€œWar and Peace.â€ You played an elf named Link on a quest to save Princess Zelda, which you were supposed to accomplish by visiting dungeons to retrieve bits of the Triforce.
The Triforce was supposed to help you defeat Gannon, who was evil. I donâ€™t know how we knew Gannon was evil, but we knew it. Games back then didnâ€™t offer a whole lot of moral complexity or choices â€” anybody shooting at you was a bad guy, because you were the good guy.
Given the Nintendoâ€™s graphical capabilities, Link was pretty much a little green, brown and peach blob on the screen.
He had a sword. You could get a shield, bombs, a candle, keys and a fire-flinginâ€™ wand later, but it all started when an old man (red, white and peach blob) told you â€œItâ€™s dangerous to go alone! Take this.â€ Then he gave you a sword and disappeared.
This sets you up for a life of disappointment, by the way. Never once has a strange person come up to me, said â€œItâ€™s dangerous to go alone,â€ given me something cool, and vanished.
I spent many hours in my basement, curled up on the hideous orange shag rug and playing Zelda, and so did my mom.
She spent even more time painstakingly mapping out all the dungeons on graph paper for me, noting secret passages and writing down our nicknames for all the bad guys â€” shield-eaters, sword-eaters, skeletons, red knights and the much-trickier blue knights, which could turn on a dime and gut you.
My mom served as my patient navigator, helping me fight evil by hitting it repeatedly with sharp, pointy objects. With momâ€™s help, eventually we collected the pieces of the Triforce, defeated Gannon and saved Zelda, and it was truly awesome, even if Zelda was just a red, peach and brown blob.
So get off my Internet, ya whippersnappers! I have a virtual 25-year-old magic sword and a Triforce with your name on it.