If there is anything that you could say is good about having delayed releases for games from Japan, it’s that for many classics we can celebrate anniversaries for both the East and West. The Legend of Zelda is one such game, and though its Japanese landmark was last year, the US release - with its famous gold cartridge - arrived 30 years ago on 22 August, 1987. One of the bad things about the long wait in having games come from Japan, however, is that most extra goodies associated with those games never make it across the ocean.
One such item that was released in Japan not long after the first Zelda game was a manga book, which serves as a companion to the game. Released by Wanpaku Comics in September 1986, “The Hyrule Fantasy” is a straightforward experience; it doesn't deviate far from the storyline of the main game. The kidnapping of Zelda, the eight Triforce pieces and the geography of Hyrule remains the same. There are expanded roles for Zelda and other supplemental characters in the game - the Old Man and Old Woman appear much more and have extended dialogue. Zelda, though imprisoned, communicates with Link telepathically in several key scenes throughout the story.
New characters are added in as well to give Hyrule a more active and alive feeling than in the game; there are towns and villagers of all ages. Link also travels with a parrot as his companion. It is the best way to advance the narrative of the story while Link travels “alone.” This keeps it as close to the gameplay as possible while getting around a storytelling challenge; Link not having someone to converse with, human or not, would make things rather boring.
There was only one manga based on the first Legend of Zelda game from this publisher. It weighs in at a lengthy 194 pages and is an interesting look at how Nintendo would try to expand its world beyond games in different ways. Other manga books have come and gone since then, with much more popularity, but this is the earliest and original work which has gone 30 years without being well known outside of Japan. For a full English narration of the book, please watch the video below. It's a great way to remember an important date in the Zelda series.
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