It’s no secret that I love The Legend of Zelda Series with a passion. It’s perhaps my favourite game series of them all. With every release, the chance to explore the reimagined and rebuilt Hyrule and its many parallel worlds fills me with child-like glee. I feel like a kid again every time I play a new Zelda title, and even if I find it too easy, I still thoroughly enjoy the experience.
But my love of Zelda isn’t just because of the world, or the characters, the gameplay and the familiar elements we’ve come to expect from the series. My relationship with The Legend of Zelda and Nintendo has a long history and deeper meaning to me.
I never played the original Legend of Zelda when it released in the 80s, never had it. But I did play Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. I liked the gameplay, it was fun but at the time, as an eight-year-old, the instructions didn’t make much sense so I never finished it.
Then during my teenage years I played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with a friend. I fell in love with the game, even if we had to resort to a gaming magazine to help us finish it. My English at the time wasn’t as good as it is today, not by a long shot. But my desire to finish it and not having the patience to wait for next month’s guide pushed me to learn more, until I could finally read and understand what the different characters were saying, what the clues meant and what the item descriptions were talking about. It was the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that made me actively learn English, devouring other games, books, film and TV series, memorising them, learning the language and the slang—mostly American—so I could get it all.
My father died in 2009 and there are days I miss him terribly and I can’t help but think of him. In those days—the past couple of weeks in fact—I remember the moments we shared and The Legend of Zelda was a big part of those, at least for me.
When I was learning English, when I was improving myself, I would often ask him what certain words meant and he readily answered every time. When I wanted to keep a film, or TV episodes to keep studying them, and being the technical wizard that he was, he taught me how to wire two VHS recorders to copy films from one tape to the other.
It’s funny when I think about that. My dad was one of my English teachers but eventually I was correcting him—and everyone else around me, a particularly annoying habit I have—on the proper pronunciation and wording.
By the time The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time released, I was confident enough in my English that I could play the game on my own and looking back, I couldn’t have done it without my dad.
But those aren’t the only memories I have. When The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker released, I’d been excited about it to the point of annoyance. I certainly annoyed him to no end. We had the money to buy the game and after bugging my dad about getting the title, we drove to nearest store—about a 30 minute drive. It was in a mall and my dad turned to me and said. “Go and I’ll circle around to pick you up.” As soon as he stopped the car I jumped out and ran like I had never, almost jumping up the stairs, avoiding people and literally skidding to a stop in front of the store. I rushed in and asked if they had The Wind Waker and they did. I paid with cash and before the guy could put in a bag or even give me my receipt I snatched the game out of his hands and was bounding out of the store, another mad dash to the goal line.
In my head, this had been around five minutes but in that time, my dad was on his fifth lap of the mall. He seemed a bit upset at this, but on seeing my grin of joy at the game, his bad mood evaporated. We got home and I played the game for hours, from one day to the next. And again, looking back, I think that while my dad wasn’t a gamer, didn’t understand video games very well, he liked watching me play. He liked the pure innocent joy I got from it.
One of my last Christmases with him—and I’m only thankful you’re not watching me write this down in real time, or there would be a giant stop right here as I try not to get emotional from the memories—we were celebrating with the family of my sister’s partner at the time (she’s now with a pretty cool dude instead of that ass-hat if you’ll forgive the language). We were all together and happy because my dad had beaten cancer after what might have been the longest surgery in history—at least it felt that way to me.
At the time I still didn’t have my own money, didn’t make any, so I was dependant on my parents and with the oncology-related expenses and the super-jacked-up prices on video games and consoles in Venezuela, I wouldn’t be able to get the Wii. I was bummed out of course, but I made the best of it and just enjoyed the good things, particularly that my dad was healthy and with us. Then came the time for presents and I got some nice clothes, some new shirts—I have a tendency to wear the same things over and over until they disintegrate—and we laughed and had fun. Then my dad and sister exchange some meaningful looks and they pulled out another present for me: a Nintendo Wii.
In this time of heavy expenses and cancer, and my sister saving up to move to Canada, they had still found the time and money to buy me a Wii just to see the look on my face. And they could’ve gotten it with any game and I would’ve been ecstatic, but they got it to me with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. My scheming dad and my plotting sister planned it all just to make me happy. I remember the look on my dad’s face when I thanked him excitedly. He was beaming with joy.
The following year, his cancer resurfaced.
So The Legend of Zelda will always have a place in my heart, it’ll always make me remember the wonderful people in my life, particularly my father. He may be gone but he’s still the best man I’ve ever met and I just hope that one day I can make my—currently fictitious—children as happy as he made me. I hope I can see the look of joy on their faces.
To close this off, I’d like to say there was only one game he played with me that I can remember: Cruisin’ USA. It was a racing game and he loved races, but five minutes were enough for him to realise video games were not his thing.
But he still encouraged my gaming and I’ll remember that race with him for the rest of my life.