The Legend of Zelda Celebrates 30th Birthday

There are certain events in life that can make you feel old. A passing of a relative, like a grandparent or aunt or uncle is one. Your child graduating from high school is another. Seeing actors and actresses you grew up watching suddenly look old. And then there's The Legend of Zelda, which if you were unaware just celebrated its 30th birthday over the weekend.

Has it really been three whole decades? It may not seem like it, but Nintendo launched The Legend of Zelda on February 21, 1986, in Japan. The game didn't debut in cartridge form, as many of you reading this probably remember playing it. Instead, it was introduced as the launch title for a disk system peripheral. This is what the peripheral looked like:

Family Computer Disk System

While a floppy disk may have seemed like a step backwards, it gave Nintendo a cheaper storage solution to work with compared to cartridges. In addition to The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo launched half a dozen other titles with its Disk System, including Baseball, Golf, Mahjong, Soccer, Tennis, and a re-release of Super Mario Bros.

It would be another year and a half before Nintendo would release The Legend of Zelda to North America, which shipped in cartridge form. This is what you probably remember playing (and blowing into to blast out bits of dust):

The Legend of Zelda Cartridge

Brings back memories, doesn't it? Nintendo didn't know it at the time, but Zelda would later become one of the biggest and most popular game franchises of all time—the series has sold over 75 million copies to date and has seen launches and re-releases on numerous game systems, as well as spin-offs and even TV cartoons. Now there are toys and all kinds of related accessories available. And it all started with the original, which incidentally was the first NES title to sell over 1 million copies.

Did you play the original Zelda title on NES? What's your favorite game from that era?