We did it. Gannon is dead, Zelda is saved, Link is the hero of Hyrule, and peace returns to the land. Phew.
Death Mountain is an insane dungeon. Mapped out in the shape of a skull, it’s a gruelling, shortcut filled horror show far bigger than any of the previous dungeons. I lost count of how many lives I lost on the way to victory.
The things I noticed about the first dungeon are what made this final adventure enjoyable. Every time I headed into Death Mountain, I progressed a little further. I learned the layout, memorised the rooms on the critical path, benefitted from the shortcuts of previous runs and slowly but surely made my way to Ganon.
Alright, so maybe it wasn’t that clean. But I did get there eventually.
Again, I’m full of admiration for anyone who was able to complete The Legend of Zelda without any tips. That’s a huge achievement, the result – no doubt – of endless wandering, note-scribbling, cartography and frustration. Miyamoto and co’s puzzle is fearsome.
Gannon himself is an odd boss. He spends his entire first phase invisible, teleporting around the level and spitting out fireballs. You have to guess where he’s going to be and kind of slash at fresh air in hope. Once you’ve finally got him to his second phase, the only way you can kill him is with a few well-placed silver arrows. Nothing else hurts him. It’s the final test of a gruelling exam.
Rather surprisingly, with that final blow, Ganon explodes into a mist of viscera and Link has to pluck the Triforce of Power from the resulting puddle of 8-bit guts. It’s quite un-Nintendo.
To be honest, I imagined The Legend of Zelda would be something to grit my teeth and get through. I saw it as the unavoidable first step in my ludicrous quest to play every game in the series. But there’s loads to admire about The Legend of Zelda, even when experienced through the lens of someone who’s accustomed to the conveniences of modern gaming.
The vastness of the adventure is still apparent, the sense of discovery, the feeling of satisfaction when you find the finally emerge victorious from a tough dungeon. The Legend of Zelda still has plenty to offer.