Hello again Towelites!
I have another memory for you all; another moment in the life of Generation Pong. And this one is about Zelda for Super Nintendo, A Link to the Past.
I’m going to start off with a disclaimer; I consider myself a morally ok guy… I think… For the most part.
For example, the other day I was at Best Buy, looking to get my new 65″ plasma. As I waited for one of the sales managers, I realized I was hungry, so I grabbed a granola bar from the front and ate it while looking through the Magnolia products (planning on just paying for it later). After getting all the details I needed, I departed, got back in the car and started the engine. Completely absentminded, I had left without paying for the granola bar. I didn’t even notice until I placed the empty wrapper on the console, and my girl pointed it out.
Though to be honest, it was only worth a couple dollars, and considering I was about to purchase a $3500 television, it wasn’t a big deal. Still though, I walked back in, up to the register and paid it. The cashier started laughing, cause she saw me “walk back in” and realized what happened. She smiled at the unexpected “nice” thing someone would still do.
The point to this? I don’t think stealing is right (unless its from the rich, to give to the poor). And why I mention all this as a disclaimer? When I was 13, I stole Zelda, and it was the greatest thing ever.
So… if you’ve read my past Generation Pong, you will already know that I moved to Greece at the age if 8. The schools I went to weren’t the… best of schools. They were Greek schools, but for kids from foreign, English speaking, countries. Basically the States, UK, South Africa, Australia, etc. These schools were way underfunded (didn’t even have a gym class, let alone any type of “Home Ec”, or whatever it’s called, lol). That leads to the fact that I didn’t do that well in school. So when the year ended (12th grade?), and I didn’t flunk, I was super excited.
As I walked home after school, I decided to stop at the local toy store (which also had video games) just cause looking at everything made me feel better. Sadly, during those years, my mom and I were slightly on the… well, not poor, but far from comfortable. I hadn’t got any games in a long while, so just looking at everything was a lot to me… Kind of just daydreaming of all the things I wanted to have.
And so, there I am, backpack on shoulder, report card in hand, staring at the games locked behind the glass display. And I see it. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
I fracking LOVED Zelda for NES. And since, for some reason the 2nd one (Adventures of Link) never came to Greece (which I guess doesn’t matter, since I heard it wasn’t as good), this was a HUGE release. Seriously, I had played the original one through and through about 4 times.
I wanted it so bad. I asked to see it (posing as a customer who was about to purchase it). The sales rep opens the glass cabinet, and gives me the box. I looked at it wide and starry eyed. I flipped it over to see the back of the box. The description of the game tugged at me… The little screen shots were (at the time), the most advanced graphics ever! I wanted this game.
I had just finished the school year, I had avoided getting left behind in the same class, I was in a good mood, and I wanted this game. And I didn’t have any money, so…
The store was actually pretty busy. The sales lady was asked a question by another patron. She turned to help the customer out real quick. And within that moment, I dropped the box, slid it “under” the cabinet, and grabbed another Zelda box. The lady turns back to me, now getting impatient as she needed to help other customers, and asked if I was going to buy it.
I politely said “not right now, thank you” and gave her the game back. She returned it to the cabinet, closed the glass door and locked it. She turned around and walked off to help other customers.
I lingered there for a moment and looked through the glass, and at some of the other surrounding toys. And when the moment was right, and there was no one in the immediate vicinity, I leaned down and grabbed the game. I picked it up, holding it in the same hand with my report card. I walked out calmly, looking like all I had in my hand was my report card, the game hidden between that and my leg.
My hearts was pounding, but I tried to keep my cool. Out the front door, down the block, and around the corner. FREEDOM! My anxiety began to recede and was replaced with anticipation. I began to run the rest of the way back home, unable to contain my excitement for this new, super cool looking game.
Of course, Generation Pong is not only formed by the memories “surrounding” these games, but the games themselves. That iconic image, scene, sound… The particular thing that brings you back to that moment, back to that kid.
A Link to the Past had exactly that. Games until then – the original Zelda, Mario, Sonic, Double Dragon… Even my beloved Metroid (NES) – they all were so basic when it came to the “story”. Put the character in the game, give them a generic reason/mission, and play. But this new Zelda… It was different. It actually “had” a story to it.
I remember it started with a dream; You were in your house; You woke up; Something was wrong with princess Zelda; Your uncle (or guardian, I forget) told you, you need to go to her; and you walk out. BAM! It’s night and its raining. I distinctly remember the rain. It was so cool looking and atmospheric. I was, within that moment, lost in the world of Hyrule. God, I want to play this game again… I think it’s available for the GB Advanced (which I still have) and the Wii. I seriously might need to play that game again.
Zelda, as a series, has always been one of Nintendo’s leading games. Each and every one to me has been special and amazing. Even the not-so-good ones have still been a memorable time for me; so you can imagine the importance of the actual great ones (ie, Ocarina – which I’m sure will have its own story posted eventually). I loved the darker story of Majora’s Mask, sailing the sea’s in Wind Waker, and being a wolf in Twilight Princess (ugh, that sounded too close to those horrible “vampire” movies… Please don’t associate the two, as that just insults Zelda).
I’ve picked up Skyward Sword, and only started the first dungeon so far. Sure, it might not be what it was (so far at least), but it still has that magic to it… A lot of it. The more I play, the more I like it. I find myself anticipating the moment I leave work so I can go home and play it again. And I honestly think that lack of graphical advancements in the Wii (comparatively to the PS3/360) hurts the game a lot. But with the Wii U now out, I can only dream of what amazing things it may bring for Link, Zelda and the world of Hyrule.
In retrospect, do I regret having “stolen” the game? I should, and maybe I do a little. But not really… I was a kid, I did things that are now part of my past. But the memory that has been left behind; well, that is priceless.
*** I would like to add an addendum here: As I was looking for pics online to put on this post, I came across a particular one. It made me smile to find that particular iconic scene… literally that exact scene, to the dot, where you walk out and it’s raining; it seems it has held that same importance for someone else as well (and I assume many more). Below is someone’s graphic rendition of it.***
So… here is to Zelda, and the great memories it has given myself, and hopefully many of you too!