I was six when I started playing The Legend of Zelda. It was the most amazing game I’ve ever played and remains so to this day. I remember looking through all my uncle’s old games. There was the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt combo that I figured I had mastered because I could beat the Dinosaur at the end; also I cheated at Duck Hunt by holding the gun really close to the TV. There was Tetris, which looked like a terrible game that had to do with math or puzzles or something that my teacher would want me to play. There was Donkey Kong which lost its appeal precisely four levels in after I realized that it was the same three levels over and over again…only more difficult each time. I was an aged master of all these games by seven. I even started playing Tetris. (This was purely for the outrageous cartoon sequence at the end with the crazy shaped rockets)
Then one day a friend of mine brought over a Nintendo game that was gold…GOLD!! I was pretty sure it contained actual magic (a fact that has yet to be disproven). There was a problem though. My friend said that it was broken. His logic was that something had to be wrong because when he pushed the “A” button he couldn’t jump on the monsters and whenever he tried he would end up losing hearts and dying. Also there were these things called rupees (obviously misspelled and green instead of red) which were a terrible rip-off of Mario’s coins, except that there were only a few of them in the whole game. Whoever this ‘Zelda’ person was, he obviously couldn’t hold a candle to Mario. (No pun intended.)
Being the logical problem solver I was in my youth, I took a scientific approach to the game. My friend and I wandered endlessly trying every button combination we could think of; dedicated to ridding the in-game world of these pesky jumping spiders, blue goombas, red goombas, and even the dreaded sumo-pigknights with spears. We enjoyed ourselves, but failed utterly at our goal for about 2 months which, by a six-year-olds count, is about 12 years. We were about to give up when we had an epiphany that went something like this:
“Hey, what’s that black spot at the beginning of the game in the huge green thing?”
“Not sure, probably a glitch like when you dropped your Double Dragon 2 in the puddle outside the house and it made everything really blurry…”
“No I don’t think it is”
“Well what is it then?”
“I don’t know. I’m gonna walk over by it.”
Suddenly we went walked down some previously hidden stairs into black chamber. We had seen this before, and were prepared for yet another dungeon to run through until we inevitably died. This time it was different though. There was a man. A sword was in front of him.
Now, yesterday I held off a double six pool zergling rush with my army of two well-placed pylons, three zealots and two spare probes to the thrill of my 2v2 teammate who gleefully giggled as his mutalisk rush simultaneously decimated the home bases of the unprepared Silver League, Rank 2, Zerg players. The day before, I shot 43 cowboys dead in an expert targeting mode, Miners vs. Lawmen, free for all shootout, much to the chagrin of the French players who got second and third and wasted no time in cursing me out in their best English. Last week, my 10th level subtlety rogue and I set foot in Westfall for the first time ever and immediately Shadowstepping behind an enemy using Ambush to kill it in one shot, only to loot it and find a ring that gives plus three to both stamina AND agility!
None of those amazing gaming experiences can even hold a match to the elation of finally, after two months of devout playing and searching, discovering the sword in Zelda. With those four notes of ultimate discovery, the gaming world made sense. We eventually beat Zelda over the course of the next three or four years. It was really, really difficult, and because of that just as rewarding. No gaming experience will ever match the power held within the Gold Cartridge. It’s truly a piece of the Tri-force itself.