The Legend of Nostalgia

This is a guest article written by Brendan Coyle and edited by Colin McIsaac. “The Legend of Nostalgia” is one of two runner-ups in Zelda Informer’s guest article contest.

My story is a simple one. I was a boy of 11, excited that after months and months of saving, I finally held in my possession $267.83. With this money, I could purchase a piece of machinery so advanced, so promising in its capacity for fun, that I would never again have a dull day. I’m talking, of course, about the day I finally got a Wii. After weeks of calling Walmart after Walmart for any new shipments, the glorious day finally came. I gave my mom the required $250 and went to soccer practice in with an irrepressible excitement, for I knew that when I returned home in that red minivan, it would be waiting for me.

But… it was bedtime, and school started tomorrow. Alas, I had to wait but another day for my fantasy to become a reality. On the bright side, this meant that I didn’t have to do any of the setup; my mother and sister took care of that. Finally, returning from school, I began a long and healthy relationship with that shimmering white block. I’d play it, dust it, buy it games, and even stand up for it in those ever-insightful middle school fanboy arguments. Now, what does this have to do with Zelda? Well, the story has only begun.

After a few months with my Wii, I began to look into the Virtual Console games. I simply could not be held back from experiencing the games of the previous generations—games that I wouldn’t truly appreciate until my teenage years kicked in. Looking through the relatively small, but quaint Wii shop, my eyes were caught by a shimmering picture icon along with the name, “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” I pondered over this title for a moment, realizing that it was “that one game I saw on IGN that had a perfect score.” Naturally, I had to get my hands on it. I bought the 1000 Wii points, pointed at the screen with my Wiimote, and clicked start.

I had no idea what I was about to witness.

As of now, I can only remember a blur. A blur of excitement and adventure and wonder and beauty. I lived in a land where anything is possible, where the young boy becomes a hero, and where magic and happy endings truly exist. It was a whirlwind of excitement. That is, until I reached Dodongo’s Cavern. Embarrassing, I know, but there was something about that massive fossil skeleton that fried my synapses. Nothing seemed to work, so I did what any kid did at that age. I stopped.

Weeks and weeks went by as Zelda waited for me to save her, trapped in a perpetually dormant program, yearning to be executed. After some time (and thankfully, cerebral growth), I finally picked up that GameCube controller and returned to my quest. I made my way through the cavern, and huzzah! It was done! I kept on rolling, a machine of agile thumbs. I was ready for anything this game threw my way. Sadly, I was a bit overzealous.

My little brother became interested in the game as well, and he sat down to watch me play a few times. Finally, as I got to the Forest Temple, he arrived and gazed in awe at this expansive fantasy of Hyrule. I made my way through the vine-covered stone walls, fighting floating fire-skulls and the like. I was pretty much a badass. But then something odd happened. Navi jumped out from behind me, the camera zoomed in on her, and text read at the bottom of the screen: “Look out for monsters on the ceiling!” Well, that’s interesting, I guess I better just—wait… what’s that on the floor? I don’t under—OH GOD, WHAT WAS THAT?! I had become victim to the ever-terrifying Wallmaster. In a matter of seconds, the Wii was unplugged, the TV was off, and the controller was halfway across the room. My little preteen heart was pounding with intense adrenaline as my mind’s eye replayed the horrors I had just witnessed. My brother began to mock me, imitating my girlish scream. I didn’t play Zelda for a long time.

After a month of heavy recovery from the trauma, I returned to the eerie chants of the Forest Temple. I entered the room, Navi made her speech, and I stepped out into the battle ground. Sword and shield at the ready, I navigated to the menu screen. With a deep breath, I relaxed my shoulders, tensed my thumbs, and pressed start. I ran like a rabid squirrel on the screen, attempting to evade the oncoming nightmare. The dark circle appeared below Link’s character model, and the sound began to play. It hissed—“ssssshhhhhhhSSSSSHHHHHHH!!!!”—until finally I rolled out from under its cold, fatal grasp with expert precision, finally witnessing its true form. The disembodied demon hand lunged at me. I was hit and on the ground. Not this time. Not again. I picked myself up, and—“HYAHHH!!!”—lunged at the satanic appendages. My Master Sword buried into the scaly fingers and the being flashed red. I attacked with another swing. Then another. Finally, the great beast had made its last fist, crumpling to the ground defeated, providing me with an onslaught of rupees and hearts.” I set down the controller and reveled in my victory over fear itself.

This moment made Zelda my favorite game series of all time. Looking back, I can see how much a simple combination of polygons has shaped how I deal with my fears. I’m sometimes bewildered how people can look past these sorts of things. Games are blown off as useless distractions. They’re blamed for creating a society of couch-potato swine. This “couch-potato-creator” taught me to overcome my fears. It’s something that I look back on whenever I need to overcome this precipice of life. You can sit on the fence all you want, but after a while you’ll start to tip, and then you’ll need to decide where to lean until you fall flat on your back. You can have the Power. You can have the Wisdom. I chose the Courage.

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