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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, first screen, by Will.

First Screen of Zelda 3. I had played this game maybe three times all the way through before I realized the lantern was RIGHT THERE. (If you miss it, it replaces five rupees in a later chest)

VGE sez: So Link and his Uncle share a one-room shack, and the uncle (presumably) sleeps sitting down at the table? And who keeps a lantern in a treasure chest? I would hope that Link wished for better living conditions when he got the Triforce.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time cover THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME (1998)

The ending of this game may be #3 on the 50 Best Video Game Endings Of All Time list, but it’s #1 in my heart (that might have to do with the fact that I’ve never played #2 or #1 on that list). It’s truly a prime example of “bittersweet,” and even now, as an adult male not prone to emotional outbursts, as well as one who has beaten this game many time in the past….this dude still gets misty-eyed when Navi flies off into the window. And is there another game that gets you to emotionally invest as much as this game? Consider my heartstrings pulled…and I haven’t actually played the game in YEARS

In some ways the ending to this game is like the end of A Link to the Past, in that everything bad that Ganon has done has been reversed…at least it is for Link. Really, there are now two timelines that have been created; the one with the 6 sages having returned to the world that “Adult Link” briefly visited and now in recovery from Ganon’s tyranny, and then Link being returned to his original timeline, except all the bad stuff presumably never happened, and no one but him (and maybe Zelda) knows about it. I guess that makes it a happy ending times two, with both Hyrules being rid of evil.

Even with the possible temporal paradox, this ending is great, and wraps up an even better story the best way possible.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past cover THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST (1991)

You know, not every game has a fire-breathing dragon/turtle thing just kidnap a princess a run away to his castle, with just evil turtles and walking mushrooms the only obstacles in your path. Sometimes there are consequences when an all-powerful super-villain attacks. Plenty of stuff happens in A Link to the Past: Your uncle dies at the beginning (to seemingly nothing), the King is murdered and all the soldiers are brainwashed, an “evil wind” from the mountains devastates the local village, numerous Hyrulians are deformed when entering the Dark World, and 7 of the fairest maidens in all the land are kidnapped and crystallized (not to mention the sage is murdered protecting the princess).

That’s a shit-ton of baggage to lay down, and maybe we really don’t think about it much as we are questing throughout the land, but it’s nice that, at the end of the game and the evil one is vanquished, our hero goes out of his way to undo all of the damage that Ganon has inflicted. We all know that shit will go down again, albeit in a slightly different Hyrule with different circumstances, but there’s a calm, comforting finality to A Link to the Past.

(PS: i’ve beaten this game without losing any lives, although you don’t get any extra credit for doing so. Just felt like bragging.)

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link cover ZELDA II: THE ADVENTURE OF LINK (1987)

You just couldn’t own EVERY game out there when you were a kid. Maybe Zelda II should have taken priority over, say, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game (which was ridiculously complicated at times). I did play the game a number of times as a kid, though, and maybe I was just a little too young for a real RPG game, or perhaps the 2D “Mario-esque” fighting platform just through me off, but I never resonated with Zelda II. I’m sure it’s a perfectly lovely game and there are sure to be a lot of people out there with strong opinions on the game, but not me….although naming the princess in this game Zelda even though it’s technically a different Zelda from the original (and subsequent) Zelda games is pretty strange, as well as obvious, since they wanted to tell a new story but attach the same Zelda name to the cover so people would know it’s a sequel. They could have just called it The Legend of Link and given the princess a different name, though. But, you know, whatever.

The Legend of Zelda cover THE LEGEND OF ZELDA (1986)

With all apologies to the Mario collection — and I’m not about to say that Zelda games are better than Mario games, or anything like that — The Legend of Zelda might just be the greatest NES game of them all. It’s remarkable that they got so much of Hyrule — albeit with no buildings and no people except those living in caves and tree trunks — into those 8 tiny bits. The ending isn’t that much but it is an improvement over the SMB ending, where at least you get some closing credits and a compliment at the end for being awesome (although wasn’t it a bit presumptions to end the game by calling it “The Legend of Zelda 1?”). I also like the peppier, upbeat version of the classic Zelda theme; too bad this won’t be the last time that that pig-monster Gannon shows his snout around these parts.

The 50 Best Video Game Endings Of All Time

Like I said in my very first post, I was not going rank the top video game endings.  Well, the Guinness Book of World Records decided to do so earlier this year, and the Kotaku website lists them all. Can’t really say how you can compare a 5-second 8-bit ending like Super Mario Bros (#11) with any of the modern, cinema-like endings of today, or even heart-wrenching ending to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (#3).

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