It was only recently that The Legend of Zelda celebrated its 25th anniversary, which is an immense accomplishment in the world of video games. Throughout the years we have witnessed countless titles released under the Zelda brand that have become milestones in video game history.
The Legend of Zelda series has done a great deal more for culture than simply being a video game series. It has found its way into every form of media from literature, music, television, and more. To say the very least The Legend of Zelda is one of the most influential video games in pop culture.
Here are some of those moments that allowed the game to leak into our collective culture:
· The original Legend of Zelda title became an instant classic for those of the NES generation but continues to leave its impact on players picking up the game many years later. From this single game we can see a wide variety of products recreated from the title, including murals, isometric world maps, plushies, keychains, and so much more.
· The Legend of Zelda ocarina helped define the game but, more importantly, it gave us wonderful music that we can now recreate by purchasing and learning the ocarina (available through sites like Songbird).
· The series, in general, has crafted characters that are found beyond their titles. There have been many occasions seeing references and homages to characters like Link and Zelda in many different media formats including an appearance in the show Power Puff Girls, a skit on the Adult Swim show Robot Chicken, and even part of a verse by rapper Eminem.
· As an ultimate commitment to the series, people have been opting for Zelda-based tattoos for their bodies (see a few in this list by GamesRadar). The most popular, of course, being the Tri Force, though the heart containers come in close second.
The series also has its fair share of controversies and oddities behind its legacy:
· In the original Zelda one of the dungeons, the third to be exact, was shaped like a manji. A manji is the Buddhist symbol for good fortune but to the uninformed it appears to be a backwards swastika which certainly brought in quite a few complaints.
· Straight from the land of the odd is the story of how one die-hard Zelda fan cracked the Hylian language. The language is said to be uncrackable but sure enough it was conquered by Zelda Universe’s forum user Sarinilli. This caused quite the buzz for Skyward Sword (as all of the Hylian became translated and available online).
· The Ocarina of Time sits there as one of the highest selling games within the Zelda series and it certainly had quite a few controversies surrounding its release. The issue was the use of Islamic prayer used within the original Fire Temple as well as the Gerudo symbol being reminiscent of an Islamic emblem though later versions of the game released on Gamecube would not have these sound files. Nintendo of America stands strong against using religious symbols and references in their western releases though these seemed to have slipped by and caused quite a stir.
· The series is also littered with innuendo that isn’t so apparent the first time you play through the games. There are plenty of moments in which characters make advances or sly comments that could be misinterpreted, but it does seem that many of them are done so tongue and cheek.
In the end, the game imagined by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto took on a life of its own. We have seen multiple releases across many different gaming platforms – each with their own flare and love from the community. The Zelda series has become just as powerful a staple to the Nintendo fan base (and culture, in general) as characters like Mario.
Despite some controversies The Legend of Zelda series continues to make substantial impacts on our pop culture. We can see it in our media, in our apparel, and in our music (thanks largely in part to replicas, recreations and spinoff mythology like the Legend of Zelda Ocarina). Though it’s entirely possible that you may have never played a Zelda title, it’s completely possible that you’ve been introduced to its existence without even realizing it.
Now excuse me while I rewatch the Zelda Wii U video, for the umpteenth time, and get ready for the next game of this epic series.