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Arts & Culture

Influential classic, 'The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past," turns 30

  Promotional art by illustrator Katsuya Terada depicts the game's opening sequence, in which Link obtains a sword from his fallen uncle in the sewers beneath Hyrule Castle.
Katsuya Terada
/
Nintendo
Promotional art by illustrator Katsuya Terada depicting the game's opening sequence, in which Link obtains a sword from his fallen uncle in the sewers beneath Hyrule Castle.

A very important Nintendo game just turned 30 years old.

"The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past" dropped in the U.S. on April 13th, 1992. It was one of the company's first big titles for the then new Super Nintendo Entertainment System or SNES, for short.

Nearly all Zelda games are about a boy named Link. He battles the evil Gannon to save the Kingdom of Hyrule and its princess, Zelda.

Shigeru Miyamoto, the series creator, made the games to capture a childhood experience.

The story goes that as a boy living in small town Japan, Miyamoto found a cave, but was too afraid to enter. After days of summoning his courage, he returned to its mouth, lantern in hand, to enter the darkness.

To his surprise, he wasn't frightened, but invigorated. He returned to the cave all summer long, and watched the firelight dance on the walls.

Miyamoto sought to imbue his games with this same sense of adventure.

"A Link to the Past" was a worldwide smash, selling 4.6 million copies. What made it special?

More colorful than its predecessors, "A Link to The Past" introduced intricate side quests, new items, memorable characters, and complex puzzles. Despite the SNES' limited, sample-based hardware, composer Koji Kondo crafted an epic orchestral score. Some of its most enduring melodies still pop up in new Zelda games.

The game also introduced a style of hero's journey most of the series has emulated since.

No fantasy universe feels quite like Zelda. Cartoonish, but lived in. Magical and spiritual with impossible technology.

On a deeper level, "A Link to The Past" breathed true life into Miyamoto's imaginative world.

In the 1990s, games didn't always hit store shelves at the same time. But if you were a Washington kid, you might have been first to get your hands on a copy, as Nintendo of America is based in Redmond.