We’ve learned so much over the years. From our days of schooling or the au par that would take care of us when our single mother was out “looking for a new Daddy” in Rome or Las Vegas. There are things we were taught that we forgot and there are things that never really mattered that we will never forget.
For this week’s Black Tie Event presents everything I really needed to know, I learned from playing the Legend of Zelda. And only in the first five minutes.
Tighten those ties, it’s about to get life-learned lessons classy in here.
Patience is huge in gaming. Either in finding out what a boss’s pattern is down to moving one pixel at a time to journey across a large gap or cavern. Those who are familiar with retro gaming and the NES in general, they know patience is a must.
You find the Legend of Zelda on a shelf next to many other titles for sale. You’ve seen the screenshots, you’ve read the reviews. This is the adventure you have been waiting for. You have the sweet crest on the front of the box and a little window that shows off the gold exterior of the cartridge. You purchase the game, run home and slap it in your NES only to get this:
Now, everyone has their own method of getting games to work on their NES because, I don’t know if you know, but every NES is different and requires your special touch. It won’t work on anyone else’s just yours.
You know it’s going to work, sooner or later it’s going to work. But this is what really separates the men from the boys. Some of you will give up and just try to get it to work later. Others will sit for hours getting the game to work. And those who have patience will win in the end. Because after those hours to getting it to work, becoming light headed from all of the blowing into the cartridge, that beautiful logo screen with the flowing waterfall and the glorious theme will sing through your mind until you are lying on your deathbed. Patience is a virtue. And the reward is the Legend of Zelda.
The Importance of a Name
Now, for those who first played Legend of Zelda, didn’t read the instruction booklet or waited for the story scroll. You wanted to play the game right? Right?! So naturally you would put your own name in or something funny hoping for the NPCs to use your name in some sort of conversation. Oh, and by the way, it almost never happens.
Many of us would just put their own name in just to bypass the screen and get to the game. Some of us will find this as a way to reinvent themselves. If you’re shy and an introvert, you could be Krun, the strong and powerful! Ready to save any kidnapped princess or damsel in distress. All of that starts with a name.
I use to think that I was plagued with a boring, easy to forget name. Eric Hunter. Lame. As I grew up, I found out that I have a very powerful name. A name that nearly no one would have an issue spelling first time out (huge deal there) and something that fits my personality. That’s the secret. It’s not my name that makes me, it’s me that makes the name. The name you pick will be echoed through the ages!
Or if you read the instruction booklet, you’d pick Link because that’s what the game’s hero’s name is. You know, whichever works for you. That, or you could pick Zelda, and give your game a totally different view.
Starting a new game in the Legend of Zelda, you get a sense of being utterly alone. You pull down your inventory and you have nothing. No items, no money, nothing. All you have are the clothes on your back and a full bill of health (which, you won’t know until later, can be increased). In front of you are three passageways. You have no idea where they go. You are building your map as you go. No one has given you a hand to push you in the correct direction.
A small note of valuable information here, is that this is the only installment in the Legend of Zelda series where you don’t have a home. In every iteration, you start in someone’s house or Link’s own home. But not here. You get a sense of larger things at work here and something or someone just dropped you in the middle of nowhere.
This is true in life as well. There are many times in your life that you will feel completely hopeless just like Link. You may have a good bill of health and a few roads ahead of you for you to take. But you are on your own. No one is going to help you.
Learning to Trust People
One of the first people you meet in this strange new land is an old man living as a hermit in a nearby cave. Upon entering, he has these famous lines…
The first time I met this “old man” (if he really is an old man), I was worried. There were too many holes in his story. How does he know it’s dangerous out there? He’s old. He’s not going out and running around. He’ll probably stay around his cave only going out as far as he has to for food and water. If he thinks the land octopuses that shoot rocks are dangerously, he’s got another thing coming. How does he really know it’s dangerous out there?
And he’s giving me a free sword. FREE! No swap, no “I’ll get you back later”, nothing. Just… here ya go. At this point in the game, you are already overwhelmed by, what you think anyway, the shear size of the new land you’ve just been thrown into, you haven’t seen or heard anyone or anything at this point, then you have this guy.
Just like in life, you have to decide on a moment’s notice if you can trust someone or not. He seems legit. At least to the point of, on a first meeting, he’s willing to help you along your journey without asking for anything in return. Do you take the sword and hope it really does help you in the end or do you go about your way making your own success without the kindness of strangers? I have seen players do both. Those who don’t take the sword have a tougher time adventuring. Even though it is impressive to watch a swordless Link speedrun.
Sometimes You Get Lucky
Some people seem to just get by without any outside help or direction. It just seems like all the roads are pointed their way and it’s clear sailing from here. Well, let’s face it, sometimes people get lucky. I don’t know how many times I’ve been playing a game and I’m so close to dying that the next hit will take me over the edge sending me back to the start of the level. Then this happens.
That’s right. I got lucky. Sure it could be that the program is written just so that it’ll recognize that you may need a little boost to keep playing while others are trying to keep you down and part of that may be true. Then there are other times where it seems just like a gift from god. Which in some ways is true. Life isn’t a program (unless you believe in the Matrix), and sometimes it just feels like things are going your way. Happens all the time. Take advantage of these incidents. They may be few and far between.
You Learn as You Go
If you’re like me, you didn’t read the instruction booklet that came with the game and you sure as hell didn’t wait for the story to roll after the title screen. So as far as you know, you’re alone in a vast unknown world and it’s up to you figure it out as you go.
You make it through the first dungeon, take out huge dragon and are awarded a… what the hell is this? You pull down your inventory and now there’s something there that wasn’t there before. Hmm… what does it mean? Who knows. You continue on your journey. Because you will figure it out eventually.
That’s the beauty of most things. You learn as you go. You come across something that doesn’t make sense now, hold on to it. Sooner or later it’ll make sense. Either for you or for someone else. There’s a note you receive from another old man (yes another one. They are everywhere in the land of Hyrule) and says to give it to the old woman. There isn’t any young people in Hyrule either, just in case you were wondering.
Now, you can’t use this note. It’s not for you, but as you continue your journey, you come across someone who needs it. This “swap” mechanic is used over and over again in pretty much all of the Legend of Zelda games. It’s a good life lesson. If there’s anytime you are concerned about the goings on in life, just keep going. You’ll figure it out.
I love the Legend of Zelda. It is my absolute favorite game of all time. Sure there are games that come out that may want to compete with it, but they fall short every time. The Legend of Zelda is a one of a kind. Just like you. Now wipe that childlike wonder out of your eyes and start slaying some beasts!