The Sixth Estate
Thursday, June 24, 2004
QUOTE OF THE DAY : Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure. - George E. Woodberry

SONG OF THE DAY : Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around

LINK OF THE DAY : Read about Max and Looq's Crazy trip, as they travel in South-East Asia.

Hear me more plainly.
I have in equal balance justly weigh'd
What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer,
And find our griefs heavier than our offences.

Everyone has their own personal Alamo. A seemingly un-winnable fight, against insurmountable odds. Until, a few weeks ago I never thought I would overcome my, personal Alamo.

Now you're thinking, Wow, "Personal Alamo"? What could he be talking about? It must be something serious, something life changing. Most would think otherwise, but I took this battle very seriously. It raged for 15 long years, and was fought on many battlefields. At every turn, something prevented my victory. As Shakespeare best put it in Hamlet,

"How all occasions do inform against me."

What am I talking about?

The Legend of Zelda. For the Nintendo Entertainment System. That's right... A video game.


The eternal struggle first began, in 1989. With the death of my dog Gator, I was consoled with the gift of an NES. Zelda and Cobra Triangle were my first games. I was more into Cobra Triangle at the time, a gunboat the drives around blowing up giant sea dragons? Oh yes, life was good.

My dad was the one who was really into Zelda at first. But after a short lived obsession with the game, that nearly saw him beat it... He decided he should stop playing, and has to the best of my knowledge; never touched another game since.

Shortly, thereafter I started getting into the game. I had just read The Hobbit, so I named my character Bilbo and not the traditional Link. It was grade one, and at the time, Mario had been my forte. So Zelda was like a whole new dimension for my small Mario-warped mind. After probably weeks of playing on and off, I was able to surpass my Dad in terms of completion of the game, Level 8; a proud achievement for a kid in grade one.

However, Level 8 would be as far as I could get on the rickety old Nintendo at that time. At one point in the dungeon, you are locked in a room with 10 Darknuts. These armoured bastards block all frontal attacks with their shield so you have to get behind them to kill them. The only downside of this of course, was that it was nearly impossible!!! The Nintendo's framerate would drop to a snails pace with so many enemies on the screen at once. I would have been able to beat them eventually...

Of course I lost the save file. The saving system on the NES was unreliable at best, it involved pressing the power and reset button at the same time, and then praying.

Our family moved to Halifax in 1990, over the next few years I would continue my quest to retrieve the triforce, vanquish Ganon and save the titular Princess Zelda. As others graduated to Super Nintendo, I was still chilling with my NES and Zelda. I would get far, lose the save file, get far in the game again, to the last dungeon in fact and lose the save file. My progress continued like this until one weekend in 1994.

My parents won a trip to New York City. It happened to be on the same weekend as my 10th Birthday, so guess who got to come a long? That's a hell of a 10th birthday present, a weekend in NYC. We did all the touristy stuff, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, saw some Broadway shows (Blue Man Group and Guys and Dolls), visited The World Trade Center(Sad to think about in retrospect) etc. Little did I know that while I was enjoying myself in The Big Apple, my NES was crying in agony at home.

My brother, who was staying with friends while we were away had killed my NES. He left it on. With no game in the system, wide open, for 3 days. This killed the NES, it was never the same after that. The battery had been fried, which made saving games impossible. That was the last time I would play Zelda until the advent of Emulators.

Skip ahead to 2000. Six long, Zelda-less years later. I discovered the joys of emulation. Windows programs that mimic the video game consoles of yore, and let you play all your favourite games on the PC!

It was now same shit, different system. Between the computer screwing up, formats, and corrupted save files, I wasn't having any luck.

So I took my rage out on other Zelda games. And as a result I became something of a pro. Completing almost every Zelda game, except the elusive original.

Then back in May I saw something from E3, that spurred me on. Nintendo had unveiled their new Zelda game at this years expo. But I had a slight problem.

In the summer of 2003, I had played through the original, and got as close as I'd ever come to beating it. I got to Ganon, but he whooped my ass. So I quit playing for the day, and went out to my friend's going away party. I met a girl there, so Zelda was the last thing on my mind for the next little while.

During my Zelda hiatus(and bachelor hiatus), my computer fucked up. This time though, I was determined not to lose the Zelda save file. So I backed up all my data on my friends computer. There it sat, for 10 months.

Neither my friend or I had the time or the inclination to return the data to it's original owner up until that point. Spurred by visions of Zelda future, I retrieved the spirit of Zelda past, and sat down to play it one last time.

The save was at the entrance to the 9th Dungeon. After a year of not playing a game, you'd think I'd be rusty... But no. From my years of experience, I know the map like the back of my hand, and every dungeon in minute detail. I went straight to Ganon's lair, and on my first try felled the mighty beast.

I felt like I could have died right then. It was a feeling of such accomplishment and elation. 15 years of effort, coming to fruition instantly. I had rescued the Princess, and returned peace to Hyrule. As the credits began to roll, I couldn't stop smiling. The stirring 8-bit score, brought joy to my heart. Life was good.

It was sad at the same time though, my quest had been more about the journey, and less about the arrival. Though when it finally happened, I was glad to be there.

The Legend of Zelda will always hold a special place in my heart, the game that beat me for so long was finally conquered. Or was it? Once you beat the game, you unlock a second quest. I guess I'll have to beat that now.

- Will


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