I had always wanted to play Zelda ever since the the very first one came out in 1987.
First there was Atari, which I remember playing from my earliest memories. One of my favorite memories in fact was going over to my older neighbor Kevin Heinzenberger’s house and we played Joust together in his room on the top floor. I remember laughing historically as those nights rode around on birds trying not to get hit, they would go so fast! I laughed so hard tears came out of my eyes and I was very sad when it was time to go back home. That is a memory that is burned into my brain and I’ll never forget.
But then, when I was in the 4th / 5th grade or so all of a sudden we had two brand new options that were the hottest toys on the planet. There was Sega and Nintendo. Now, I don’t remember seeing commercials or really thinking too much about these gaming systems until I went over to my friend Ryan’s house and he had a Sega. The very first game I played was called Black Belt and I was absolutely enchanted by the upgrade in graphics and how awesome I thought it all was. I tell you I would not be able to replicate that feeling of joy even if I were to win the lottery today.
From that point on getting a Sega was my mission in life and I just had to have one. If I remember correctly I did have to wait quite a while until I think I got it for my birthday after which I played non-stop.
Well, over time I realized that the majority of boys in my class had gotten a Nintendo and I was in the minority with my Sega. I would go over to their houses but was never disappointed in my choice of Sega although there were to games I loved on Nintendo. Those games were Super Mario Brothers Two and Zelda. I had a chance to play Super Mario Brothers a lot over at the Hanley’s on Tall Timbers Court. Tall Timbers court was the hangout place since about 7 families all with children who attended the same grade school / high school lived there. If you wanted to know what was going on you headed over to Tall Timbers and I had three good friends who lived on that court. But getting back to the game, the Hanley brothers let me play Super Mario to my hearts content and I ended up being the first one in the neighborhood to beat the game! I remember I played it so much they often asked me to stay for dinner which I really appreciated.
As for Zelda however, I never had the chance to play it as I would have liked and so I bought it for the Nintendo Switch based on this memory. As I’m now 40 I’m not much of a ‘gamer’ anymore. In fact, I’ve only played Warcraft for the past decade – 20 years in total – and not bought a console gaming system since the Sega Genesis.
Anyway, we got the Switch and my son has been playing the heck out of Super Mario Odyssey, so much so he’s about done with it already. And so Zelda sat and didn’t get played due to my son using the system and my indifference as to whether I played or not.
Well, after a slow start Zelda began to suck me in. The game is absolutely beautiful and it is right up my alley being a Hobbit, LOTR, Warcraft, Renaissance Faire fan. The graphics are stunning and I can lose myself in this beautiful world that looks like something straight out of Middle Earth. I’m free to explore and can progress as quickly or slowly as I like.
Yes, I can lose myself in this game but what it does is excite the passion I have for exploration, for learning, for the unknown. I think it was due to gaming, and exploring the worlds of Phantasy Star, of Azeroth and so on that instilled in me the passion I have for travel, learning and exploring this world in real life! My phantasy worlds in gaming run parallel to my experiences in Spain, France, Mexico, Japan and Vietnam! Oh, if I simply had the time, money and we could free ourselves from schedule a bit, I too would be a bit like Link out exploring the entire world, learning, getting stronger both mentally and physically. No, I wouldn’t have the end goal of trying to defeat a terrible demon unless that demon was ignorance.
I’ve got my map of places I want to go on Google Maps that I update every time I find something interesting, historical, beautiful that really touches me. I label them and so if I’m either ever in the area, or have gone there specifically to visit that particular place, I’ve got it catalogued so I won’t forget.
Life is a series of slumbers, where we fall into the normal routine, running on autopilot until we wake up for a moment, wonder where the year or couple of years have gone and have a bit of a crisis! We realize life is passing us by and we want to feel alive again!
This is what travel and learning do for me. Yes, I fall into routine as often as everyone else but I feel I also awake from it a bit more frequently than most. This game Zelda, as silly as it sounds, has helped me wake up a bit from my monotonous mindset. It has encouraged me to seek out new places here in California to visit, to not be afraid to see what else is out there in the job market and ultimately to do whatever necessary to start to feel alive again in the way my international travels used to. I think everyone wants to experience some adventure, some excitement in their lives. That is why we gaze out for long periods over the ocean, buy camping gear or an entire RV, keep the entire travel industry alive with our money! We want to explore, we want to experience and just sitting home night after night watching something on TV is a very poor substitute, in fact it is death in a recliner!
Playing Zelda has reawakened my thirst for adventure whether it be just planning more meticulously my next trip and plans to visit its historical sites, or perhaps even contemplating a change in careers and taking the time to explore the possibilities.
Life is a grand adventure of experiences, some over which we have absolutely no control, but with focus and planning there are others which make life worth living indeed.