The Legend Of Zelda Was Born 30 Years Ago Today

The Legend Of Zelda Was Born 30 Years Ago Today

On February 21, 1986, Japan got its first taste of the magical land of Hyrule, though not on the famous gold cartridge Western gamers are familiar with.

In early 1986, while gamers in the U.S. were getting acquainted with the Western version of Nintendo's Family Computer (Famicom), the Japanese original got an upgrade in the form of the Famicom Disk System.

The Legend Of Zelda Was Born 30 Years Ago Today

Image by Evan-Amos - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The peripheral, though calling it that when it dwarfs the original Famicom feels off, gave the popular gaming system the ability to play games from proprietary floppy disks, known as Disk Cards. The floppy disks represented a less expensive means of data storage that cartridges, plus they had the ability to be written to as well as read, so games could be saved on disk instead of cartridge memory or via the complicated password systems popular at the time. Gamers in Japan could even take their disks to special kiosks and have new games written to them for cheaper than the cost of an outright purchase.

The Famicom Disk System launched with seven games. Baseball, Golf, Mahjong, Soccer, Tennis, a re-release of Super Mario Bros. and this game right here:

The Legend Of Zelda Was Born 30 Years Ago Today

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That odd-looking disc is certainly a far cry from the gleaming golden cartridge my father mailed to me for Christmas back in 1987. Instead grown-up Japanese gamers remember this odd yellow, dust cover-lacking floppy disk, emblazoned with both The Legend of Zelda and its subtitle, "The Hyrule Fantasy."

The game itself is a bit different from the cartridge released in North America and Europe in 1987 as well. Loading times were faster, slowdown was greatly reduced, and the sounds were sharper due to the Disk System's built-in wavetable synthesiser.

Another famous difference between the two releases is the way the rabbit-like Pols Voice creatures are dispatched. The original Japanese release ultilized the Famicom's built-in microphone to allow players to kill Pols with loud noises. The NES had no such feature, so in the West the Pols were made weak to arrows, though references to them hating sound were left in the game manual.

For the most part however, the Famicom Disk System's launch title was the same Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka fantasy epic we all know and love, just on a piece of boring yellow plastic instead of this majestic beast.

The Legend Of Zelda Was Born 30 Years Ago Today

So pretty.

Japan wouldn't see a cartridge release of The Legend of Zelda until February of 1994, shortly after Nintendo Japan introduced a new, sleeker version of the Famicom sporting non-hardwired controllers lacking a microphone. The cartridge was green and hideous.

So while Japan saw the first release of The Legend of Zelda 30 years ago today, the Western world got the shiniest.

Today we celebrate 30 years of Hyrule in the fashion of our choosing. Reminiscence in the comments section, go play the original any way you can or quietly do the celebration dance of your people while no one is watching.


    I got introduced to TLOZ on the N64 with Ocarina of Time, then Majora's Mask. Spent many, many hours in both games exploring and 100% completing then. Been meaning to pull them out from my storage to play them again.

    I've just started collecting as many of the Zelda games as I can. I have many of the newer ones but I recent;y got hold of a boxed 'Zelda II The Adventures of Link' on NES and the cartridge is still so shiny and beautiful, just how I remember it when I first played it back at my uncles house all those years ago.

    I love being born the same year as the Zelda franchise. It just makes it feel that extra special to me.
    Played the original on a friends NES and was amazed by how big it was. Never finished it (only was able to find 2 dungeons) but the experience left me wanting more.
    Fast forward the the N64 era and I received one for my birthday, along with Ocarina of Time. I was immersed in that game and it also pulled my dad and sister in so much as well that we have a huge connection through it (my sis got a tri force tattoo to represent us three).
    Since then I have played every Zelda game I could get my hands on, with the only ones missed being the Four Swords games (and the Cd-I games, but they don't count). Extremely looking forward to Zelda WiiU. It cannot arrive soon enough.

    I didn't have a NES growing up, but I kept all my Zelda goodies from Gameboy, SNES and up. I still have a shiny Zelda 3 (LttP) and 4 (LA) boxed up in my collection. Purty.

    Last edited 22/02/16 12:34 pm

    For some reason I could never get into the 2d Zelda games, but have played every 3d title they have released.
    Playing ocarina of time for a full week, blazed as hell, just out of high school when time was plentiful,was one of the best gaming experiences of my life. Magical stuff.
    And I'm happy to say that almost every title since has managed to capture a great deal of the magic for me, it's the spartan amount of story and the great atmosphere that does it for me.

    Ahh I was working at Tandy Electronics as a Thursday night/Saturday morning casual when we started selling the Nintendo Entertainment System. It sold like hot cakes at that first Christmas. Duck hunt was a must and great to get the mums and dads in to buying it. Mario Kart was another no brainer for a takehome game. As we got more familiar with the game range we would demo Zelda and Metroid and have kids come in after school playing it for hours in store. I was a kid myself and played as much as I could sneak in without the store manager catching me. Zelda 2 was popular as well. I liked Zelda as a side scroller.

    I bought in at the Super Nintendo stage with Super Metroid and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

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