Zelda: A Link to the Forgotten Past

From the Phillips CDi games, to the 1989 TV Series, to Link’s Crossbow Training, this episode explores the content from the Legend of Zelda series that has mostly been forgotten to time.  This is the 4th and final part of The Legends Behind the Legend of Zelda series! This episode includes a detailed review of the entire Legend of Zelda TV series cartoon, covers the history and development of the three Philips CDi Zelda games (Zelda: Wand of Gamelon, Link: The Faces of Evil, AND Zelda’s Adventure), as well as the other offshoot Zelda Games. Hyrule Warriors! Age of Calamity! Weird TV commercials! It’s all here in this dive into Links somewhat troubled past.

What happens when Nintendo licensed out Zelda without any oversight? What happens when Link is given a voice? Listen and you will find out.

Episode Transcript

Hello and Welcome to Level Zero. This is the show that gives insight into the world of video games and answers your questions! I’m your host Greg Griffith and on this episode, all the extra Zelda stuff you wanted to hear about including the CDi games and the Zelda TV series!

….wait wait wait wait calm down intro music. Do I really have to talk about the Zelda cartoon from the 80’s?

Have you ever found yourself enjoying something really bad? Like a tv show or movie that is just so bad, that its kind of enjoyable. It’s so bad that its good!

But then you find other things that are just so bad, they are bad. And no enjoyment can be found in them.

What is it that separates these two things? Where is the line that separates something bad, from being ironically enjoyable and something bad from just being bad?

I don’t have the answer, but man has it been on my mind a lot lately.

Yes! Yet another episode on Zelda, but this one is covering some of the weirder Zelda related stuff. I spent the last three episodes of the podcast covering all 18 mainline Zelda games as a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the series. I covered a lot of information in those three episodes, But did I cover everything Zelda related? Certainly not! So for this episode, I asked listeners to write in with anything else about Zelda they wanted to hear about. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on the series, but I have spent the last few months researching the series in my free time. So I’m doing my best to answer it all! Any questions I couldn’t answer, I jumped into the scary realm of the Official R/Zelda subreddit and sought out the answers just for you!

This is a Mailbag episode of sorts, but some of the questions took me in some wild directions for research and are a  bit more involved to answer. One question in particular may or may not have led me down a path that involved binging all 13 episodes of the legends of Zelda TV series. Oooof

  Before we dive in, a couple of quick corrections from the previous episode.

Rob Hudack messaged me saying, “hey One quick note about BotW:

– It released March 3rd, 2017; you said, “November of 2017”.

I did?

Dang it. Yes. Breath of the Wild was a Switch release title and the switch released in March of 2017. March. not November.

Also @theedgeofmypete on Twitter said,

“… I supremely loathe being *that guy*, but the name is pronounced “Mid-na”. ✌️

Yah, what did I say?

Ok Midna, the companion from twilight Princess, got it.

Thank you so much for those corrections! Ok with those corrections out of the way, let’s dive right in!

The first question comes from Travis. Travis says, “why are people from Hyrule called Hylians and not Hyrulites, Hyrulians, or something along those lines? Washingtonians is a mouthful, but that’s still what I am!”

Ya! good question. It should be hyrulians, right? Hylians sounds better, but it’s like a shortcut?  So i looked this up too. and it turns out, Hylians are a race, not specifically people from the land of Hyrule.

The official manual of the game, Link to the Past, gives the full explanation for the history of Hyrule and the triforce. And to be clear, this is actually from the original Japanese manuscript of the game. the localized English one leaves out a lot of details. In Japan, the game is called “Triforce of the Gods,” not “Link to the Past.” When it was localized to North America, a lot of the religious aspects seemed to be removed from the game.

But this original manual talks a lot about the gods of the triforce and a race of people close to the gods, “These records were left by the Hylia race, chosen people said to be able to hear the voices of the gods. For this reason, they possessed tall ears, excellent intuition, and made use of magic.”

So a Hylian is NOT a person from Hyrule, it is literally a specific race with pointy ears.

The manual also says, “There was once a race close to the gods known as the Hylians (which is also the origin of the word “Hyrule”), who left behind scriptures for their Hyrulean descendants.” So here it does say that word Hyrulean that you were asking about, Travis. Meaning, people from the land of Hyrule. And here it states that the name Hyrule just came from this word Hylia. So the name Hyrule, is kind of like the name “holy land” in this instance.

Later in the game Skyward Sword, it actually establishes that Hylia is the noble Goddess who watched over the Triforce in ancient times and is essentially just Zelda. So 20 years after this manual was written, they filled in the gaps and explained who Hylia was.

It’s all a little goofy, but at the end of the day, a Washintonian is a person a from Washington, usually good people judging from the people i know from there, but a Washintonian is absolutly not a race of people.

A Hyrulean is someone from Hyrule, by a Hylian are a race of people, like Link, with pointy ears.

I will go ahead a drop a link for a google doc that contains the fully translated Manual from Link to the Past. Check out the show notes and you can read that manual. its pretty cool.

Pete commented on a Level Zero Twitter post and said, “I would genuinely find it interesting to hear you talk about the spin off content. Link’s Crossbow Training and such – maybe even the concerts? Or maybe prominent fan projects?”

Ok, I’m super glad you asked about Wii Crossbow training, because this was actually a glaring omission from my previous episode. I left it out because I knew it was a small, throw away Zelda title to help sell Wii zapper accessories.

And that’s true, BUT the development of this game is really interesting and ties together with Zelda development story. I figured, because it was a short, throw away, offshoot Zelda game, that it was most likely developed by some small team at Nintendo or even a random third party. And after doing some research I came to learn that that wasn’t the case at all! in fact, Link’s Crossbow Training was developed by…..the main 3D Zelda team and overseen by … the dream team! Seriously, Miyamoto, Aonuma, and Tekashi Tezuka all directly produced and oversaw the development of this game.  I’m serious. It turns out there is a “Iwata Asks” interview with Miyamoto that dives into the making of Link’s Crossbow Training. It’s interesting stuff! at least to me who has been researching Zelda games for the past few months at this point. 

Ok, so what it is, if you’re not familiar.

Link’s Crossbow training is a “first person shooter” game of sorts that relied fully on the Wii’s infrared sensor. It was bundled with this thing called the Wii Zapper, which was this plastic assessor for the Wii that you could put the Wii-mote and nunchuck controller into, point it at the screen, and hold it like a gun.

A fun concept that was kind of silly and unnecessary, but it allowed you to experience the Wii in a new way. Just like the little steering wheel accessory you could use for Mario Kart on the Wii.

And in Link’s Crossbow Training, Link would make use of a crossbow and the gameplay was essentially a “point and shoot” arcade style of game where you pointed at targets or enemies to try and achieve a high score. Later levels allowed you to move link around at the same time you point and shoot.

Extremely different that any previous Zelda game and even very different than anything Miyamoto had made in a while. Most Nintendo games were trying to get away from “just trying to achieve a high score,” so it’s weird to see here.

What happened?

Well it turns out, after the team wrapped up production on Twilight Princess, it was Miyamoto who was left a little unsatisfied with Twilight Princess. It was super well reviewed and received by critics and fans (like i said 100x on the previous episode) and sold incredibly well, BUT Miyamoto felt that something was missing. Twilight Princess has a vast world they created and he wanted to do more with it. Ideally, they could make another game like Majora’s Mask, with the same graphics engine and art assets. A side story to Twlight Princess, smaller in scale that could release just one year later, so folks didn’t have to wait as long between 3D Zelda games.

So Miyamoto said in this Iawata Asks interview, “I asked our Zelda staff to think about a new project with an extra story based around Twilight Princess.”

I’m sure this out Aonuma in a cold sweat with flashbacks to the same idea with the making of Majora’s Mask. But the team started coming up ideas. Big and exciting ideas! Epic ideas for a new Zelda game.

But this frustrated Miyamoto! He didn’t want an epic Zelda story. that would end up taking 3 to 5 years and Miyamoto wanted a new fun Zelda experience within a years time. He begged the team to…. dream….smaller. Miyamoto said, quote ” I do not believe that an epic tale alone can make a great game. I mean, depending on what kind of characteristics are added to a game, the fundamental enjoyment behind it can get lost among st all the gadgets.”

But the team struggled to dream smaller. They only had big ideas for a new Zelda game. So an exasperated Miyamoto made an executive decision. He told the team, “Let’s make a game based on the Twilight Princess that utilizes the Wii Zapper.”

And the team was kind of shocked with this decision. In one breath, Miyamoto killed all the ideas they had been working with.  Some were even  mad and begged Miyamoto to do not do this because they didn’t want to make it look like they were just cobbling something together to make a quick buck.

But Miyamoto was determined. He figured this would be the best way to get an offshot, quick and fun Zelda game made in a short time period and would allow Nintendo to sell a new fun piece of hardware. And fun fact, the Wii Zapper idea came from one of the Zelda Nintendo staff while making the Wii version of Twilight princess.

So to appease everyone and convince the team to move forward, Miyamoto suggested they make a working prototype to test player reactions. They will get some die hard Zelda fans to try out the project and if they don’t like it, we will scrap the idea.

And the team agreed. So built a first person shooter, target practiced based shooting game.

Miyamoto had actually wanted to make a first person game for a long while. In fact, he wanted Ocarina of Time to be in first person. and it almost was, but the story with child and adult Link forced the team to make it in the 3rd person perspective. 

SO they started building this game, and play testers really enjoyed the experience. They got good feedback and kept pushing forward.

And despite the type of game they were making, the Zelda team kept pushing for bigger and grander stories. They were making long levels and even creative, engaging boss battles. But Miyamoto said, “no no no no no! These levels need to be short, so if someone fails, they aren’t discouraged to give up.” He also pushed to eliminate the bosses in the game. Miaytmoto said, “I really wanted them to put all their energy into making the journey fun rather than making these fabulous bosses.”

Fun gameplay. That was the goal. Eventually Miyamoto agreed to let them put the bosses in the game, but only after the gameplay was fun an engaging throughout.

Of course, there was a bit of a problem. Link can’t shoot guns! that doesn’t make sense for the time period or what Zelda games were. Miyamoto stated, quote, “we figured that Link was the logical choice. Then we argued that it would’ve been kind of strange for us to give Link a gun, so I proposed a sort of Terminator style story about a time warp from the future, but…Yeah, they vetoed that idea immediately (laughs).”

No serious, Miyamoto considered a “terminator style” jump to the future, giving link an assault rifle.

Can you imagine something like this?

“Come with me if you want to live!”

“Great! I’ll get my stuff!”

No idea what was going on with Miyamoto at this point in time to suggest something like this, but I find it hilarious. Anyway, the team pushed back on it hard so Miyamoto had another idea. There’s a place in the game Twilight Princess called Hidden Village that was designed to look like an old spaghetti western-like setting. And that is how they landed on connected a shooting gallery arcade experience with The Legend of Zelda. They finally decided to give Link a cross bow as an era appropriate weapon. But they did have the concern with using a “rapid fire” style shooting being unrealistic with a crossbow, but they ultimately decided, it’s really just for fun, so who cares?

The team built a short experience using the same graphics engine and art assets from Twilight Princess that was fun to play.

And they decided to give the game the name “Link’s Crossbow Training,” so that it conveyed to people that it was a fun, little experience. Miyamoto said, “if we had given it a name like “The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Crossbow”, it would have seemed like a grand-scaled sequel in the Zelda Series, and we didn’t want it to be misinterpreted as such. That’s why, in the end, we went with “training” for the title.”

And for the music, in this game, Koji Kondo was not involved in this game, but a man by the name of Kenta Nagata, who is the main composer for all the Mario Kart games (funnily enough) adapted Kondo’s melodies and made a unique soundtrack for this game.

Link’s Crossbow Training released for the Nintendo Wii in November of 2007 and definitely not as a full priced, stand alone game. As a pack in game for the Wii Zapper accessory. for $20, you would get the Wii zapper and a copy of Link’s Crossbow Training. Not unlike  how Wii Sports was bundled in with the Wii.

And….of course as with all other Zelda games, it was really well reviewed and ….nope wait….no. It got really mixed reviewed. Reviewing on average of about 7/10. The main criticisms were that it was too short, you could beat the entirety of the game in just 45 minutes to an hour. Also, people said the Wii Zapper was not only unnecessary to play the game, but actually made the game less fun to play.

But it wasn’t a stand alone, full priced game, it came free with this accessory, so…what do people want?

So there you go. That’s the story of how one of the most talented in-house teams at Nintendo, with full guidance of the Dream Team,  made a weird arcade shooting Zelda game that most people forget exists.

Let’s see, you also asked about the concerts. What Pete is referring to here is a pretty cool thing. For the 25th anniversary, Nintendo decided to celebrate with a live symphony orchestra concert.

We talked on the previous episode about how the game Skyward Sword used a live orchestra, and the release of that game was part of a big celebration that Nintendo put on for the 25th anniversary of the game.

Also as part of this celebration, Nintendo had a big show in July or 2011 at E3. They hired composers to create a four minute overture to highlight all the great Zelda music over the past 25 years.   and a hired a live orchestra to perform at E3.

Nintendo was very proud of this and the music in Skyward Sword, so they announced there would be a full 2 disc orchestral CD of Zelda music that would release along side Skyward Sword.

Nintendo then had the idea to have a live concert of Zelda music in Tokyo, but decided to also have performances in London and Los Angels as well.

Nintendo then decided to continue the series and have a traveling concert series called, “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” which toured the US and Canada  from 2012 until 2018.

Chris Babbino commented on Twitter saying, ” Lol we pronounce on average two to three things wrong per episode.  Greg can you answer definitively if Fi is pronounced “Fee” or “Fye”? And also release the episode before the next time we record a Hello Hyrule? That’d help a ton!”

Oooo this is a good question. Chris is referencing to the “intelligent humanoid spirit who resides in the Goddess Sword in the game Skyward Sword.” She is essentially your companion during the game that guides you on your quest.

Now  I didn’t know the correct pronunciation either, so took to the official r/zelda subreddit to ask the question and got 36 comments. About half said it’s pronounced Fee, and the other half said fye. One commenter named “fools_baby” said “Fee Fye Foe Fum”…which is just not helpful.

But one person in the bunch named, megamachopop” had the definitive answer.

In Japanese, it’s (the English letters FAI), which is pounced like fye, so i say fye as well. Thank you Megamachopop!

Also on the official Hyrule Warriors Direct video from Nintendo, they say this!

So there ya go! not fee, it’s fye…foe fum.

Speaking of Hyrule Warriors, these are two quick offshoot Zelda games I should mention.

So in 2010 or 2011 some folks from the video game company Team Ninja (makers of the Ninja Gaiden series) and some folks from the video game Company Koei Tecmo (Makes of the Dynasty Warriors franchise) got together and came up with a possible collaboration on a spin-off Dynasty Warriors game under a new license, specifically with Nintendo. They were all fans of the Zelda series and they pitched the idea to Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo. And Aonuma was on board with the idea as he was always looking for new ways to break away from traditions, like we talked about in the last episode.

So Koei Techmo and Nintendo worked together to create a Dynasty Warriors / Zelda crossover. If you’re not familiar with the Dynasty warriors series, its a Hack and slash type of game that involves mowing down a screen full of enemies in an effort to take over land. And Hyrule Warriors would be just like a Dynasty warriors game, but with tons of playable Zelda characters. Aonuma helped to supervise the project and in September of 2014 Hyrule Warriors was released for the Wii U.

And it did decently well. scoring mostly 7 or 8’s out of 10 for the most part. It struggled a little because…i don’t think anyone bought a Wii U. Luckily it later came to the 3DS and Switch. Most folks said it was fun, but infidelity not a normal Zelda game.

But it did get a sequel. It was actually Fujibashi, the director on breath of the wild and skyward sword, who thought of the idea to make a sequel to Hyrule Warriors, but have it tie into the lore of Breath of the Wild! So they did just that! Koei Tecmo once again teamed up with Nintendo to make a sequel, but this time with the art style and lore of Breath of the Wild.

It would be called Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and it would take place 100 years before the events of Breath of the Wild during the “Calamity” that was partially shown in Breath of the Wild. This helped provide much needed back story to the world of Breath of the Wild, while not having to take any resources away from Nintendo, other than some supervision by Aonuma. Nintendo is still hard at work on a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, but no info on that has been shared just yet.

Anywho Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity released in November of 2020 and did pretty well! Receiving mostly 8 out of 10’s by most reviewing sites and being received pretty well by fans.

Let’s see. OK more questions!

What would be your ideal 3 game anniversary package? – Preston Willke

Ooo I think ideally Ocarina of Time, Majoras Mask, and Wind Waker HD. If that was $60? Ooo ya, I’ll take it in a heartbeat.

Here’s a good one, that comes from Ryan Allison. Ryan says, “hey Greg, been enjoying the Zelda content. I was curious how Zelda became so popular in the US so quickly. I understand the first game was groundbreaking or what have you, but still i find it kind of surprising. Did and does Nintendo push Zelda to The United States or does it happen on its own?

Thanks!”

I think it’s both honestly. I think it did have a lot to do with the quality of uniqueness of the original game itself when it came to the NES in the United States back in 1987. But it certainly had a marketing budget to help push it along. And some of these commercials. Oooof

Here’s a clip from a classic commercial from 1987.

Haha. “Your parents will help you hook it up.”

I mean, I guess this kind of ad worked. It was funny how different commercials for Zelda were too between Japan and America

Let’s take a break realll quick. When we come back,

“wellll exuuuuseee Me princess.”

“Great I’ll get my stuff!”

….

Why it’s better when link is silent….

Welcome back!

There are some more Zelda games that I’m going to talk about, that Nintendo much rather you forget exists, but before these cursed games released, something truly unique and totally bizarre broadcasted to the living rooms of millions of Americans.

Grizzled Gaming on Twitter, said “ooooooh, we need more info on that Legend of Zelda cartoon”

….and because Grizzled is a friend and big fan of the show, and cause he’s an all around good guy, I’m going to share more info than you ever wanted to hear!

Believe it or not, The Legend of Zelda had a TV series! in the form of a cartoon. 13 episodes were made and aired in 1989. Think along the lines of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. In fact, same writers.

This show is most well known thanks to Meme culture, with the “exuuuussseee me” gif reminding everyone of this strange iteration of Link. That’s where I knew it from. I knew it existed, but until now, I had never really looked into it before. Why would I? If it were any good, people would probably talk about it fondly rather than laugh at it with bad gifs, right?

The show aired on broadcast cable TV in 1989 as part of the Super Mario Brothers super Show! Yah, Mario had a tv show too! It was part live action, part animated show that was aimed at kids  and created with the intention of growing brand recognition in the United States. At least from Nintendo’s perspective. The company that made the cartoon, DIC Entertainment, just wanted to make popular shows, and they had a lot of past success with shows like inspector gadget and a number of other shows. DIC went up to Nintendo and suggested the idea of a cartoon based on their most popular IP.

Nintendo turned down the idea more than once, but finally gave in after a year of negotiating, Nintendo decided it would be a good idea to boost brand recognition in the states.

So the super Mario brothers super show aired weekdays and it had a mix of live action and animated Mario segments, but on Friday’s instead of playing the regular Mario animated segment, it would play a different show, the Legend of Zelda TV series! And it was a big event.

I asked around the internet a bit, and several folks said they remember running home from school as fast as they could on Fridays just to catch the Zelda show.

Friday’s was the more popular day for the show. But only 13 episodes of the Legend of Zelda were ever made. The super Mario bros super show only ran for a single season and that’s all the Zelda tv that came along with it.

So 13 episodes and me personally, Before researching and writing this episode of the podcast, I had never seen any of this cartoon.

I’m a big fan of cartoons. I loved them as a kid and I still enjoy them!

I looked it up, and sure enough, the entire series is readily available on YouTube.

So for you, the listeners of this show, I did it. I binged the entire series. Here are my thoughts!

Now I did my best to go in with the right mindset and an open mind. This cartoon was made in the 80’s, a time when animated shows for kids kicked into gear.  From transformers, teenage mutant ninja turtles, Thundercats, GI Joe, to the Smurf’s and the Care Bears. If you were a kid in the 80’s, it was a full on gourmet buffet of great options.

Video games though, they were just getting started. So, it’s 1989 when the Legend of Zelda show was put together. And at time, it’s important to remember the source material. there had only been two Zelda games made. This was before the Super Nintendo, so just the very first two 8-bit games were all they had to work with.

From what I understand, Nintendo had a complete hands-off approach, letting DIC make what they wanted. And it was a man by the name of Bob Forward that brought Link from an 8-bit pixilated character with a green outfit and hat, as inspired by Peter Pan, like we discussed in the first episode, and with a sword in shield, to a full fledged cartoon.

Bob Forward was one of the writers at DIC entertainment and had previously worked on He-man and She-ra and Bob and his Sister Eve were in charge of adapting this increasing popular Japanese video game series to life. But adopting these games with very little back story beyond the game manual and the contents of the games themselves couldn’t have been easy.

Still they managed take The Legend of Zelda and make it look and sound just like any other cartoon from that time period.

Ok cool enough backstory; what did I think of it!?

Well first thing that struck me was the music and sounds that you hear right off the bat in the quick 30 second intro that plays every episode! There’s pretty excellent music in this show that is pulled straight from the games. Which is interesting considering the source music was the Chip tunes from the NES. This was the very first time people heard Zelda music from an orchestra.

Sound effects from the original game are also used A LOT in this show and I think that works very well.

It’s abundantly clear who the target demographic is when you first start watching the show. Certainly kiddos younger than 10. The show is almost embarrassingly simplistic. Gannon, in all his pig-like glory, possesses the triforce of power and all he wants is the other piece of the triforce, wisdom which is in Zelda possession.

*clip from intro*

Yah there are only two pieces of the triforce in the show. The three pieces of the triforce wasn’t established until Link to the Past.

But Link lives in Zelda’s castle with the whole goal of protecting the triforce of wisdom. Every episode Gannon comes up with a new way to try and get the triforce of wisdom and every episode Link (or Zelda) stops him. All Zelda wants is to keep the Triforce of Wisdom out of the clutches of Gannon and all Link wants

*clip*

is to kiss Zelda. No really thats ALL he wants..

Enemies AND even bosses from the original game are prevalent in the show! It’s actually somewhat impressive the amount of enemy types in the show and how much they correspond with the game.

After finishing the very first episode, I was left somewhat surprised. Overall, it was better than i thought it would be with just the outside gif impressions i had. I should keep going. Maybe i should watch this whole show.

Just within the first few minutes of the second episode, you start to see how repetitive this show will be, but its not all bad. Scooby Doo is one of the worlds most repetitive cartoons, but that doesn’t mean its bad. There can be a certain level of comfort in seeing the same tropes in cartoons, from unmasking the real villain in Scooby Doo, to seeing Michelangelo enjoying a somewhat gross looking pizza, to hearing Dr. Claw say “I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!” at the end of every single episode. You know just what to expect in the show, just like you know what to expect with that next bite of cinnamon toast crunch with your saturday morning cartoon experience. Delicious, but starting to get more soggy than you like.

Still, with this show, its clear that some of the voice acting was going to get annoying. BUT I will say, the action is pretty great. It’s fun to see Link shoot beams from his sword with pinpoint accuracy, its fun to see different items common in the Zelda series, like bows and arrows and boomerangs being used, and its fun to see that Zelda is by no means a “damsel in distress.” She jumps right into the action, skillfully using items and doing her best to defend the triforce of wisdom. 

A few episodes under my belt, and it wasn’t pulling teeth to get me to pull up the next episode. What plan will Gannon hatch next? Will Link finally get that kiss? i’ll keep watching.

I started noticing a few things that the show was doing to line up with the game! When Link zaps enemies with his sword, they disappear, just like it does in the original game. With the game, its mostly due to graphical limitation for why the enemies would disappear upon their death. To keep game play interesting, enemies will reappear on the battle field after a little while when you return to that same area. And the show takes the time to explain why this would happen. In the show, the enemies disappear and are essentially teleported into Gannon’s giant magic glass bottle. The enemies return to Gannon’s possession, can explain to Gannon what happened, and then Gannon is able to send those same enemies right back out.

This works on a lot of levels. Being kid friendly, they can avoid death as a topic, it adds a sense of comedy, AND it explain whats happening in the game.

Another thing, the show takes some care to explain how Link can carry so many items. With magic, these items shrink and he can put the miniature item easily in his satchel. Enemies will drop items and rupees when they get zapped as well.

*Clip – “hey loot!”*

In episode 7, Gannon’s minions zap the Triforce of Wisdom into three pieces and Link has to use one of the pieces of the triforce of wisdom to find the other two missing pieces. This is both a reference to the game where you’re finding individual pieces of a single triforce, and almost accidently foreshadows what happens in future Zelda games.

By the end of the 7th episode, I was surprisingly into the show. I wanted to see what happened next and i wanted to see if this annoying version of Link would ever get that kiss from Zelda. Ya he is an annoying, overly confident, brash teenager, but he does continue the day. Maybe he deserves a kiss from Zelda. He’s totally asking for consent too, so good on him.

end this sho….

Ring

Greg: Whats this? I’m getting a call, but its not showing me from who. i Swear if this is captain Jack again. Hello?

FG: *somewhat garbled* GRE…. *effect* greeeeg

G: hello? who is this?

FG: you have to listen to me

G: What? can you hear me?

FG: yes. listen. just listen to me. I don’t have much time! You can’t endorse that stu … *garble*

G: What? who is this?

FG: hello?

G:  Yah you’re coming in clearer now. Who is this?

FG: I’m you! IM YOU FROM THE FUTURE

G: Ummm what?

FG: i don’t have time to explain, just listen! You cannot endorse or recommend that people watch the Legends of Zelda cartoon series on your podcast.

G: How…how are you…this is me from the future? What is going on

FG: YES! you’re not listening! You can’t tell people to go watch this bad incarnation of Zelda.

G: Why not? its  just a harmless 80’s cartoon aimed at kids. It’s harmle…

FG: DUDE! Greg no. If you tell people to go listen to this…

G: What? What happens? It sets off some kind of chain reaction that sends the world into anarchy?

FG: What? no…you just lose your entire listener audience.

G: Oh….that doesn’t seem like…

FG: NO ITS IMPORTANT! The Legends of Zelda TV Show ruined Level Zero. We have nothing now.

G: Is that why your mic sounds kind of ….bad?

FG: YES its all gone. I endorsed this dumb show and it sent my life, our life, into shambles.

G: Shambles?

FG: just.. listen…you know this show is not that good. please it’s annoying. tell people its annoying.

G: OK OK OK you’re right. im right. i know. it’s not a good show.

FG: Good. yes.

G: So you…I …. found a way to contact my past self just to say this?

FG: I have to go…you know what to do…

G: Wait!

FG: 10 seconds and we will disconnect forever. what?

G: If you’re form the future, i gotta know. Did Nintendo every acknowledge the 35th anniversary of the series and finally release Majora’s Mask for the Switch?

FG: Yah. of course. it’s great. just as a good and I, as we remember. so glad i can play it on the switch. OK goodbye!

G: Wait!

*click*

G: dangit….i probably should have asked about stock prices or my kids or something.  shoot. missed opportunities there. oh well

Anyway, so yah I didn’t want to get negative, but since I insist. this show starts to get a little bad about halfway through. And there’s a BIG reason why. …. this

*clip*

That was not just said one time and forever immortalized I’m meme form. It’s the shows catch phrase

Yes this show was in the late 80’s and like every single sitcom in this era …. a show has to have a go-to catch phrase to ensure every listener has a good laugh each episode.

And with The Legend of Zelda TV series…this is what they decided to go with. Link says “Excuse me, Princess!” 29 times over 13 episodes, and in every single. Some episodes have it 3 or 4 times each and it gets to be nails on a chalkboard. When it first showed up in the first episode, it made sense. It was somewhat comedic. Link fights off a bunch of mobins to save the triforce in his bedroom, and since enemies disappear when they get zapped, there is never evidence of them being there. So when Zelda comes into Link’s room and comments on the mess, its makes sense that Link would be offended and annoyed at the ungrateful Zelda. “hey excuse me princess” Hahaha classic!

But…man that’s maybe the only instance of it being well timed. After that, its a catch phrase for the sake of a catch phrase. And it’s bad.

Why is this even the catch phrase for this show?  Links personality is honestly the worst part of the show. He’s an arrogant teenager, and this catch phrase just shines a spotlight on this.

There’s one instance where its funny where Link says it while falling off a waterfall, but that’s the only good time.

Most often it’s annoying and sometimes it doesn’t even fit at all. at the end of episode 8, its the perfect example. they wrap up the episode as always after Link saves the day and doesn’t get much credit because … well because he’s annoying about it. There’s a decent exchange between Link and Zelda and the episode should just end, but instead, they throw in “excuse me princess” at the end and it doesn’t even make sense. Here

*clip from 108 end*

Like…why? Why do this?

After this, I honestly was much more hesitant to keep watching this show. Like…don’t the show creators know how this is coming off? I get its for kids, but man… you can do better.

But I was committed by this point. Already watched half the episodes, why stop now?

It was abundantly clear why this show is so forgotten. There just isn’t anything memorable that happens. It’s repetitive and there really isn’t any character growth at all. Nothing really happens in any episode that effect the next. Just more of the same.

I will say though that episode 12 titled, “the moblins are revolting” is the best. a couple of Gannon’s minions have finally had enough of Gannon’s failed plans and decide to create an uprising. A real mutiny involving trapping Gannon inside his own impenetrable bubble and dropping him down a bottomless pit. Now with Gannon and his dumb plans out of the way, these moblins and other enemies can finally get revenge on Link! And then it’s Link who ends up… you know what, i don’t want to spoil this one. If you’re going to check out this show, make sure to check out episode twel…

*Ring*

G: oh snap! Hello?

FG: NO GREG! gah im such an idiot

*click*

G: wait wait! should i buy shares of gamestop? What happens with our son? Hello? Dangit

ALRIGHT FINE. Link ends up accidentally rescuing Gannon out of that bubble. it was mildly entertaining.

One more episode, the finally and did anything happen that makes you want to watch more? Does Link finally get that kiss he’s been asking for?

No….and no… You really don’t need to watch this show. I watched it so I could tell you about it and now you don’t have to.

For 13 episodes Gannon tries to get that triforce piece and Link tries to get a kiss from Zelda. That’s it. That’s the whole show. Maybe it’s too much to ask for a compelling narrative arc in a show or some semblance of character growth in a cartoon for kids from the 80’s, but I mean…other Transformers, ninja turtles, honestly other shows had these things and they were good and memorable because of these things. The legend of Zelda tv series on the other hand. Nothing to remember but…

“Excuse me, princess”

Phew sorry that was the last one, I promise.

The show was never renewed or remade. For 32 years, we’ve never seen another incarnation of Link in show form ever again. And im not sure we ever will. A very short lived, one off thing that probably only existed because of the time period and the popularity of children’s cartoons.

Hmmm this was kind of fun. Maybe I need to make a podcast about reviewing children’s cartoons….

anyway… Although there was never another cartoon, this wasn’t the last time people would see Link animated with annoying voice acting.

I recently threw up a poll on Twitter (make sure you follow @levelzeropod on Twitter to take part (Link in the show notes)) asking, “Would you like to hear about the weird CDi Zelda games?” and 88% enthusiastically answered, “yes! tell me all” with only one person replying “no! please no! gross.”

Well I’m sorry to that one individual, but i must explain why Nintendo will never again haphazardly license out their major properties without a close level of oversight and supervision. It was not because of some long forgotten, short run of an 80’s cartoon. It was much….much worse.

To understand what happened and get the full story, I gotta jump back into Nintendo’s history a little bit. You may need to go back and listen to the previous episode of Level Zero, that i most often reference, the History of the PlayStation and its unexpected origin. It’s one of the earlier episodes in this podcast’s feed and I’m proud of how that episode turned out. The origin of the PlayStation is an interesting story and its interesting because of Nintendo’s history and how it accidentally created it’s biggest rival in the video game industry, Sony. After this episode is over, i recommend checking that one out if you haven’t. But essentially, Nintendo knew that CD’s and disc based technology was the future, so they tried to get in with the help of a partnership, more than one! And ….man neither one went well.

After a failed partnership with Sony, that i get into in that episode i mentioned, Nintendo partnered with the European based company Phillips. Phillips was one of the leading companies when it came to CD based technology. The plan was that Philips would help Nintendo create an attachment for the Super Nintendo that would allow people to play CD based games on their Super Nintendo. And this time around, Nintendo would still get all the profit from CD based games, unlike their last deal with Sony. The thing was, Nintendo’s biggest rival, Sega, was ahead of them in this endeavor, with their creation of the Sega CD. I won’t get too into it here, but it was essentially exactly what Nintendo wanted to do. The Sega CD was an attachment for the Sega Genesis that snapped onto the console and allowed people to run games off of CD’s.

And Nintendo noticed….this wasn’t going well for Sega. Not that many people were buying the attachment and it caused a split in who was buying CD based games and who was buying cartridges for the Sega Genesis, so it was a mess that Nintendo didn’t want get too involved in. I think Nintendo also realized that Philips didn’t really have much experience, if at all, when it came to video games.

So the partnership between Nintendo and Philips ended as quickly as it started and there never was a CD attachment for the Super Nintendo. BUT Philips did get something out of the deal. They were allowed to make their own console AND even create games based on Nintendo’s property. In exchange for allowing Nintendo to have profits for the failed CD attachment, Philips essentially got free licensing right to Nintendo’s property. Apparently Nintendo let Philips choose amongst their IP too. So naturally Philips grabbed up Mario and Zelda. I mean…i think anyone would given the options, even now, 25 some odd years later.

SO Philips decided to create some games for their interactive CD based hardware, the Philips CDi. I should do a whole episode on the Philips CDi and how it gets a really unfair and bad wrap thanks to these Zelda games I am about to discuss. 

So Philips knew that CD’s and the emerging DVD technology, allowed for some interesting things and with the CDi, Philips allowed for people to interact with CD’s in a new way. Not just listening to music or playing a movie, but interacting. Philips created the CDi to allow people to directly interact.

Now its probably best to explain the CDi like this. like a Smart VCR. or a DVD player before those became common.

You know how DVD’s often come with a “BONUS DVD” that has dumb quizzes and bad games that you have to awkwardly control using the DVD player remote? You click over, or next page, and it takes a minute and then loads in? Or its a throw away, “guess what character this is” as it slowly emerges on screen? Or a quick multiple choice quiz you have to select the answer and the character from the movie tells you if you are right or wrong?

Do you know what I’m talking about?

THAT is the Philips CDi! It was like a giant VCR/CD player combo. And it was pretty popular. In addition to playing movies, Philips developed over 600 pieces of software, the majority being basic interactive educational content.

Philips was doing decently well selling CDi’s, but the personal computer was coming along in the early 90’s and threated this space that Philips, and a lot of the video game companies were going for, being the center of your living room. Sales for the CDi starting dropping and Philips had to pivot.

With this partnership with Nintendo, they decided to go in a new direction and market the Philips CDi as something new. As a video game system.

They even released multiple versions of the CDi that came with a controller, even one that looked a whole like like any other video game console at the time.

The thing was, man did Philips know nothing about video games. This wasn’t their space. But with this failed deal form Nintendo, they could create exclusive software with popular characters! Maybe this would save Philips and the CDi!

So Philips hired an independent studio to create, not 1, not 2, but THREE Zelda games exclusive to the CDi. Philips contracted a company called Animation Magic to make 2 of these games. Philips didn’t know very much about making games, but they wanted a few things. They wanted these games utilize all aspects of the CD-i’s capabilities, including FMV,[9] high-resolution graphics, and CD-quality music. That’s all. they didn’t’ care about the quality of the game. They just needed recognizable, exclusive software that highlighted the capabilities of the “console.” Animation Magic was a small Russian and American based company that specialized in software development. And “animation” was right there in the name! Perfect to make what they were looking for. The thing was, Animation Magic hadn’t really made video games before AND they didn’t actually have any animators on the team. They had artists that were good and creating still images, but yes a company called “animation magic” didn’t actually have any animators. Something Philips should have found out, but they contracted to them to make these games, none the less. So Animation Magic were given …. a tiny budget and short time frame to create two Zelda games, and not in succession, but in parallel. They had to make these two games at the same time with minimal resources or experience. They worked on the gameplay itself and subcontracted outside help to create the cut-scenes to make the “FULL MOTION VIDEO” aspect of the game. And…they didn’t have a budget, so they just hired external help from Russia that composed of six random guys of Russia that they didn’t have to pay much. And they flew in these guys to create the animated cut scenes.

Nintendo had no involvement beyond some initial requests regarding the characters designs, and…never again. so Animation Magic got free roam to do what they needed.

So Animated was left to their own devices and created two games in parallel. The games were called Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. No “Legend of” in these games, and rightly so.  both would use the same graphics engine and would be very similar, but each would feature unique cut scenes. To make the two games different, one would have you play as Link and the other would have you play as Zelda, hence the names of these games.

They were side scrolling games, somewhat similar to Zelda II: The adventure of Link, but i mean…not really like that. The games featured unique music, and unique cut scenese, and the backgrounds of the game looks pretty good.

Look, these games were bad. really bad. and not so bad they were good and charming, but just plain bad. Turns out, hiring non experienced software developers to make games with no previous game development history, while also not paying them enough or giving them enough time, was a bad idea? who knew?

Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon released in November of 1993. So this was two years after Link to the Past released and the same year as Link’s Awakening for context. And these two games were well reviewed and well received by critics at the time. HA no not really.. well actually kinda According to Wikipedia, when these games came out, they ended getting some good reception. Cut scenes, voice acting and CD quality music was not at all common in video games. A lot of folks were impressed by the way the game looked. But reception was mixed. Other outlets gave it a worse score, but it seemed to review around 7/10, one calling them “reasonably good games” which is pretty baffling. Criticisms had a lot more to do with an incoherent story and very rough controls.

A third game was also made called, Zelda’s Adventure, and Philips hired a different company called, Viridis Corporation, to create that game. And instead of animated cut scenes, this one involved live action! With a full performance from an actor. This game was from a top down perspective and utilize new technology for the time involving real photographs of landscapes from Hawaii. This game would also star Zelda as the lead protagonist and….and… yah game this was also terrible. even worse actually.

Development of this game was very strange and actually hard to research and validate. There were huge ambitious ideas, it was supposed to push the CDi to it’s max and be this massive game with tons of NPCs. But the NPC’s and folks featured in the game were just the office staff? There was a huge budget apparently, but then also no budget at all? The history and development of this game is all over the place.

But at any rate, Zelda’s Adventure released in June of 1995, two years after the other two games i mentioned and noone liked this game. even at the time. Apparently the final game wasn’t able to play music and sound effects and the same time and the game was even called the game “practically unplayable,” due to bad controls and  frame rates and long load times.

Just bad, bad stuff from Philips.

But at the end of the day, very few people ever checked these games out. It really wasn’t a big deal at all. Three games with Zelda in the title for a system that wasn’t really designed for video games. Despite Philips pivoting to call it a “video game console,” it still really wasn’t. Everyone knew the super Nintendo and the Sega genesis were video game consoles. the CDi? That was a big VCR/CD player that happened to play games.

Seems like most folks never bought these games and Nintendo certainly didn’t promote it! Even Philips didn’t end up pushing them hard. . And the CDi was on the way out anyways. So these games ultimately went under the radar and no one really noticed or payed attention.

That is until YouTube came along in the mid 2000’s and a youtuber called Angry Video Game Nerd put these three games in the spotlight. and then it went into Meme culture and…that’s where they stay.

There’s not really a way to play them, so I didn’t try, but I did watch ALL of the cut scenes for these games on YouTube and ….man….I don’t recommend doing this. I will not link the cutscenes in the show notes. I don’t even need my future self to ensure I don’t.

These games should be forgotten, but there IS one redeemable quality about these games! Two out of the three games feature Zelda as the protagonist! In a game called Zelda! It makes so much sense, it was very progressive to feature a woman protagonist in the mid 90’s, and it’s a cool new take on the franchise. Have Zelda rescue Link for once! We still haven’t seen this from Nintendo even 35 years later. I do hope that one day Nintendo will give us a mainline Zelda game with a playable Zelda. Hyrule Warriors is the closest we have come to this and i think its a great way to shake up the franchise. Aonuma? You listening? we could shake up the franchise by having Zelda be the protagonist in a Zelda game!

Anywho, have I talked about The Legend of Zelda series enough? there’s still plenty of different Zelda stuff i didn’t mention like Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, Zelda Monopoly, and different Zelda Mangas…but i think we are good. let’s stop here.

If you have listened to ALL four of these episodes, thank you so much for going on this journey with me! It has been super interesting researching the development of these games and I hope you enjoyed hearing about it.

Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this, maybe leave a review on Apple Podcast. You don’t even have to write anything, you can just tap the number of stars you want to give it right there on apple podcast! The number of reviews are HUGE in allowing people to find the show, so please give some starts. it doesn’t have to be 5’s across the board, just whatever number you feel is appropriate. If you want to give it one star, please remember this show is called Draft Punks!

Haha no, but for real, if you enjoyed this and want to hear more from your’s turly in an unscripted, off the cuff format, you can hear me in the latest episode of Draft Punks, a show dedicated to Drafting different pop culture topics in a fantasy sports style draft. On this most recent episode, we drafted One-Hit-Wonders and it was a whole lot of fun! I’ll put the link to that also in the show notes. You can just click that and listen to me guesting on one of my most favorite podcasts! They are the reason i dove into this Zelda series in the first place as they spent an entire month drafting different Zelda related things including Zelda games, music, items and more!

If there is another video game series or topic you would like to hear about, maybe in another series format like this, please write in and suggest it! My DM’s are open AND you can always email me. That email address is once again Questions@LevelZeroPodcast.com. That’s questions@levelzeropodcast.com or @LevelZeroPod on Twitter and Facebook. As always those links are in the show notes. I want to do the kind of episodes that YOU, the listener, wants to hear about!

“Hey, excuse me princess” …dude Link, the episode was over. I had the ending already…why?

End

Podcast recommendations!

Hello Hyrule

Draft Punks

*New* SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/levelzeropod

Ask a question or leave a comment and have it featured on the next episode!

Email: Questions@LevelZeroPodcast.com

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