FGC #207.1 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

You're hearing the sound right nowIt’s the end(ish) of November, the leaves have just about fallen, and there’s that chill of Winter in the air. Soon, we’ll all be Christmas/Hanukah/Festivus shopping, and enjoying some hot cocoa by a roaring fire. Winter is upon us, and, as the days get shorter, we’ll huddle under blankets and curse our heating bills.

So, naturally, I’m going to talk about Easter.

Easter was always a fun time around the Goggle Bob household, as, for some reason, the holiday became an ongoing battle of wits between my father and me. I literally can’t remember exactly when it started (before or after I was aware of who was responsible for these baskets, man or rabbit), but at some point in my early childhood, my dad started to take great delight in attempting to hide eggs and baskets in difficult locations. Yes, there was a basket hanging from the showerhead. Yes, there was an egg taped to the top of the ceiling fan. And I’m pretty sure there was at least one time when I had to investigate an old pair of boots that had likely sat in the hall closet for centuries. The “hunting” never lasted more than an hour, but it was an hour everyone in the family enjoyed, and, yes, I looked forward to it every year.

And if anyone asked why I went “Easter Egg Hunting” around the house well into my college years, it was to amuse my dear grandmother. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

It's not a fluteSo you can likely guess how excited I was about 23 years ago when my dad brought home a Mario Paint Paas Easter Egg Decorating Set. Another fun fact: I was completely obsessed with Mario Paint right around this time (and… maybe for a few years… let’s call that a topic for another entry), so my dad, ever-attentive father that he is, saw the Mario Paint eye dying set (probably retailing at like four dollars), and figured that would be a fun way to dye eggs for the year. And he was right!

Now, as I’ve mentioned, I do not have any artistic “freehand” skills, and my father is much the same. The “glitter paint” that came with the set did not work out as intended, because both of us hold a paintbrush with the same kind of shaky fear one might use to hold a severed appendage. But those Mario stickers got used, and I still have a “blown out” permanent egg from that year with a Yoshi sticker on it (come to think of it, knowing my genetic hording issues, the unused stickers may have been saved and used for a few years). The actual egg dyeing portion of the event was the same as ever, but it was a little more fun with Mario along for the ride.

But there was something else in the Mario Paint set: The Zelda Egg-Quest.

Nintendo has always been well aware of how its bread is buttered, and Zelda was always the companion to Mario’s more childish aesthetic. Link was the other side of Mario’s cereal, he had the cartoon on Fridays when Mario took off, and he had the serious Nintendo Power comic to balance out Mario’s droll adventure. Link was always right there with Mario, in one way or another, so it seemed only natural that A Link to the Past got a little sideshow to accompany Mario Paint.

But… things didn’t go quiiiiite like one would expect.

Link was always more mature than Mario. Mind you, I mean that The Legend of Zelda was “mature” in the same way that we don’t watch Tiny Toons anymore, diaper baby, we watch adult shows, like Animaniacs. Yes, they are both heroes fighting against a random animal monster to save a princess, but, somehow, Link, with his Tolkien-esque trappings and swordplay, always had that air of superiority, even when Link was being portrayed as an inexcusable teenager. From a child’s perspective, this seemed oddly consistent across genres: Super Mario Bros. was Ducktales, The Legend of Zelda was Gargoyles. Neither was necessarily better than the other, but they were both reliable in their general tone. Mario could do this whole egg dyeing thing, but you know that advertised “Zelda Egg-Quest” would be amazing.

Unforunately, someone at Paas didn’t get the memo.

Behold the standees responsible for the quest!

ROB not included

Here’s the deal: there are seven sequential Zelda characters to find. The idea behind the “game” is that you start with Link, who then tells you to find the next character (Fortune Teller), and then you gradually make your way to Zelda, who rewards you with a swank treasure chest that the Easter Bunny has presumably filled with jelly beans or something. In theory, this whole mission sounds like a pretty fun little Easter activity.

First problem, though, is that it is impossible to find these characters in proper order. I mean, maybe you own a stately mansion with wings and multiple buttresses, but, in my Easter memories, we were limited to like three rooms. This dramatically increased the odds you’d find Clue #5 before Clue #2, because, come on, there are only so many places to look. Real life Easter Egg Hunting does not work like a gated Zelda game; it’s not like I’ll only find Zelda after obtaining the hookshot (note to self: find way incorporate hookshot into Easter). So, right off the bat, this “game” has to be modified for reality. For the record, my dad decided the best way to utilize these little Zelda dudes would be to use the “clue” section as a hot/cold meter for finding the “real” baskets/prizes.

But that begs the question, “If the ‘game’ didn’t work, why did you bother with these things at all?” And to answer that, I give you Agahnim, dark wizard attempting to conquer Hyrule:

Stupid wizard

Let me just jot this out for Google’s sake:

Aha! So Zelda’s who you’re here to find?
You must be the hero… strong, but kind.
Well, usually I’d fight with you.
But I can see you’re smart… it’s true!
I give up. Take Zelda Home.
Just promise to leave me alone!

There it is, folks. “Just promise to leave me alone”: the cry of a villain that acknowledges you are strong but kind. You’re welcome to save Zelda, I’m gonna go cower in the corner.

I want to say I was nine when I first received this Easter set, and even I thought that was pathetic.

So, naturally, my dad and I saved these little Zelda standees, and trotted them out every Easter. If you can’t laugh at ineffective wizards, who else are you gonna laugh at?

I scanned the rest of these dudes, because why should my family horde all the fun? Please enjoy my father’s handwriting as well.

Holiday!

Of note:

  • Everybody rhymes, because of course they do.
  • Link is clearly bored.
  • The Tree’s “Now go away!” seems to be the only thing that indicates someone played A Link to the Past.
  • Blacksmith reveals you were supposed to bring a sword to this game? Nothing about that on the box…
  • And I guess “him” rhymes with “Agahnim”. Good to know!
  • I could have had a pony!?

So thank you, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, because you inadvertently led to the creation of an Easter tradition. Granted, you had to sacrifice your big, scary villain on the altar of Paas, but, hey, at least I got to talk to a tree.

Now everybody get out of here. Just promise to leave me alone!

FGC #207.1 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

  • System: Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, and, I don’t know, every Nintendo system after that.
  • Number of players: Link alone must save Hyrule.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: Well, I talked about a game…
  • Get 'em!Zelda is your…: “Goal”? I never thought Uncle’s opening ellipsis ever meant anything, and this was even at the height of my “playground rumors” phase when we were all convinced there was some secret way to find King of Hyrule before the ending.
  • Just play the gig, man: The entire soundtrack of A Link to the Past has been playing in my head for the last twenty years. Oh, you claim there aren’t enough dungeon themes? These are all the dungeon themes you will ever need!
  • Favorite Item: Hookshot dethroned boomerang as the best thing ever. I could nary believe such a thing to be possible when I was a wee babe.
  • Last Minute Addition: So it turns out that the day this article was posted was the 25th anniversary of the release of A Link to the Past. This amazed me, as ROB chose this game randomly, and then I wrote a bunch of words about it because it’s an amazing game, not because of some silly date. There might be more to that damn random robot than I suspect…
  • Did you know? There are sprites and data for meat, magical clock, and letter in A Link to the Past. It’s neat that these items from The Legend of Zelda almost made a return, but I’m rather glad they didn’t, as then they’d be yet another thing you have to collect in every damn Zelda game. Let some items go, guys!
  • Would I play again: Well…

What’s next? We’re not done with A Link to the Past yet, so come back for the next entry on this game. I beat Ganon roughly twelve billion times, so I figure that’s worthy of at least two FGC articles. Please look forward to it!

PLUCK

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