Back in the 1980s, the original Legend of Zelda for the NES was a massive success. People all over the world were journeying into the land of Hyrule for the very first time, figuring out its puzzles and spilling its secrets on the playground, in the breakroom, at the pub, you name it. Many of its riddles were extremely cryptic and if you didn’t have the manual or map that came with the game or a sibling or a friend with all the knowledge, who knows how long it could take you to get anywhere.
These days, someone could just Google the correct route through the Lost Woods or the location of extra Heart Containers, but back in the day, players would write their own notes and craft their own maps to help themselves traverse the world and dungeons a bit easier. One artist by the name of Philip Summers has garnered quite a name for himself by sketching his own walkthroughs for classic games all by hand, and a guide for the very first Legend of Zelda is his latest creation!
True to its name, every single sketch of Link, every item, enemy, and map is hand-drawn and every string of words is handwritten. Philip's drawings and words give new life to the game and the land that encompasses it. To be able to see it through this new lens is a pretty magical experience.
The first few pages cover the characters, enemies, items, and a brief rundown on how to play the game. The rest of the guide then covers the overworld and its dungeons. Each dungeon spread features a map of the dungeon and shows off a few of the monsters you’ll find, along with an extremely detailed sketch of the dungeon boss. Seeing these originally 8-bit bosses in this sorta detail is really something to behold. Each dungeon section is also bridged together with story segments and tips on where you or Link should travel next. At times it feels like you’re reading a storybook, the way that Philip has managed to connect together the sections of the game. The book also comes with a useful fold-out map of Hyrule, complete with a key on the side detailing locations, heart containers, and other secrets.
Regardless of if you’ve played the original into the ground or are curious to see what the original Legend of Zelda is all about, this hand-drawn game guide is a great way to experience Link's first adventure in the land of Hyrule. It stands up there right next to the Magic Sword as one of the most important equipment pieces you could have in your inventory. A hand-drawn love letter to the game that started it all.
You can purchase a PDF version of the Legend of Zelda Hand-Drawn Game Guide on June 29th at the Hand Drawn Game Guides store with a name your price option of $1 or more. 100 physical editions of the guide will also be available online as well and if the demand is there Phillip did say he would consider printing more. You can follow Philip over on Twitter or more updates about the book.
Do you still find yourself referencing paperback guides whenever you find yourself stuck in a game? What sort of guide would you like to see Philip tackle next? Let us know with a comment below.