1.08: Optimal

Welcome to what’s sure to be the first of many instalments of something I’m calling: Stuff You Probably Already Know, But I Didn’t So I’m Going to Write About it Anyway.

It’s a snappy title.

Did you know that each of the dungeons in The Legend of Zelda can be jigsawed together to make a single, rectangular map? The Eagle, The Dragon, The Demon… you can slot every dungeon together, without overlaps, leaving just a handful of blank spaces. Here, have a look:


It’s all to do with the way the NES’ memory works, you see. All off The Legend of Zelda’s dungeons are actually on the same map file, to work within the console’s memory limitations. Creating the dungeons so they jigsaw together perfectly was the optimum way of making the map.

I suspect, although I haven’t researched this, that the empty spaces – the white rooms in the image above – are actually taken up by the side perspective rooms, those bits of dungeons containing special items and shortcuts. If true, it would mean not a bit of space is wasted.


Yet… not quite clever enough. According to an old Iwata Asks (a series of interviews with Nintendo staff conducted by the late CEO Satoru Iwata), the designer responsible for this idea messed up. He miscalculated and actually underestimated how large the map file could be.


Interesting, right? Also, I guess it means I’m going to have to play the Second Quest at some point, eh?

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