The Legend of Zelda, taglined The Hyrule Fantasy in its original release, is a 1986 video game developed and published by Nintendo, released in North America in 1987 and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. Set in the fantasy land of Hyrule, the plot centers on a boy named Link, the playable protagonist, who aims to collect the eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom in order to rescue Princess Zelda from the antagonist, Ganon. During the course of the game, the player sees Link from a top-down perspective and must navigate him through the overworld and several dungeons, defeating enemies and finding secrets on the way.
The Legend of Zelda was a bestseller for Nintendo, selling over 6.5 million copies. It's often featured in lists of games considered the greatest or most influential and is considered a spiritual forerunner of the role-playing video game. The game spawned a solitary sequel, several prequels, and a number of spin-offs; the series has become one of Nintendo's most popular.
The Legend of Zelda incorporates elements of action, adventure, and role-playing games. The player controls Link from a flip-screen overhead perspective as he travels in the overworld, a large outdoor map with varied environments. Link begins the game armed only with a small shield, but a sword becomes available to Link after he ventures into a cave that is accessible from the game's first map screen. Throughout the game, merchants, townspeople, and others guide Link with cryptic clues. These people are scattered across the overworld and hidden in caves, shrubbery, or behind walls or waterfalls.
Barring Link's progress are creatures he must battle to locate the entrances to nine underground dungeons. Each dungeon is a unique, maze-like collection of rooms connected by doors and secret passages, and guarded by monsters different from those found on the surface. Dungeons also hide useful tools which Link can add to his arsenal, such as a boomerang for retrieving distant items and stunning enemies, and a recorder with magical properties. Link must successfully navigate through each of the first eight dungeons to obtain all eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom. Once he has completed the artifact, he can enter the ninth dungeon to rescue Zelda. Apart from this exception, the order of completing dungeons is somewhat left to the player, although they steadily increase in difficulty and some of them can only be reached or completed using items gained in a previous one. Link can freely wander the overworld, finding and buying items at any point. This flexibility enables unusual ways of playing the game. For example, it is possible to reach the final boss of the game without ever receiving the sword.
After completing the game, the player has access to a more difficult quest, officially referred to as the 'Second Quest', where dungeons and the placement of items are different and enemies are stronger. Although this more difficult 'replay' was not unique to Zelda, few games offered entirely different levels to complete on the second playthrough. The Second Quest can be replayed each time the game is completed and can also be accessed at any time by starting a new file with the name 'ZELDA'.
More details about this game can be found on