Happy Birthday: The Legend of Zelda turns 26 today

By on February 21, 2012, 8:30 AM

A game that needs no introduction, about 26 years ago Nintendo released the first game in a series that would become one of the most iconic franchises in the company’s history, second only to the Mario brand. The Legend of Zelda debuted on February 21, 1986 in Japan as The Hyrule Fantasy: Legend of Zelda, a launch title for the Family Computer Disk System peripheral before a release in North America more than a year later on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The Zelda series was created by Japanese designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. Miyamoto is best known for his work on several successful Nintendo titles such as Mario, Star Fox, Donkey Kong and F-Zero, while Tezuka wrote the story and script for The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

The franchise has produced 16 official titles spanning nearly every major Nintendo console and handheld over its 25 year run. Several spin-offs featuring Link and other Zelda staples were released in addition to an animated television show in 1989. There was even a Nintendo breakfast cereal that included Super Mario Bros. and Zelda characters produced by Ralston Cereals.

As of December 2011, the Zelda franchise has moved over 60 million copies of games with the original ranked as the fourth best selling NES game of all time at over 6 million titles sold.

What's your favorite Zelda game of all time? For me, the original gold cartridge NES title can't be beat!

Update: We keep imagining we're living in 2011 as we had wrongly stated before that Zelda was turning 25 today instead of 26. The point remains, good times, great game.

User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

The game was released August 22, 1987 in the USA and later on that year in Europe, so it will be 25 in the states later on this year.

Best console game ever.... ah the memories.

Guest said:

And yes the game is really 26 years old, released in Japan in 2-21-86

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Cool. Iconic game music too. 26 years later and I can still remember most of the music in that game.

Guest said:

Crazy to think I played it when I was 8. Yikes!

Guest said:

il never forget throwing chickens down a well lmao

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Although Link will always be second to Mario in popularity, sales and overall impact to the gaming industry, it was games like Zelda that started to push the envelope and we as gamers should be forever grateful.

Guest said:

this article means Zelda is as old as I am. hmmmm....... Wonder if the princess is single? -sends message through mylife.com-

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Wow, 26 years?

You make me feel very old

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I was a little over 5.5 years old when it came out. But it was another 5+ years before I could play it when I wanted. My parents made me buy my Nintendo, so at whatever lowly allowance they gave me it took a long time to save up enough to purchase one. And even then I didn't have my own copy of Zelda. It wasn't until I was about 25 before I got my very own copy of Zelda, the gold cartridge, bought it off ebay.

Camikazi said:

Guest said:

this article means Zelda is as old as I am. hmmmm....... Wonder if the princess is single? -sends message through mylife.com-

That depends... what is the princesses name?

DanUK DanUK said:

Ocarina of Time on the N64 is still one of the best games i've ever played!

treetops treetops said:

Link to the past will always have a special place in my gaming heart, never really got into the other zeldas a whole lot. I was like 3 when the first one came out, I played duck and the first few levels of mario because the castle level scared me with all that lava or so the story goes.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

If I remember correctly, Zelda was the first game to actually have a composer do the game music. Instead of the programmers just making up a beat that sounds neat.

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