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|Release date||June 5, 1994|
Zelda's Adventure is a 1994 action-adventure video game developed by Viridis and published by Philips Media for the CD-i. It is the rip-roaring third and final game in The Legend of Zelda CD-i series. It has a top-down view reminiscent of the original The Legend of Zelda, and features live-action FMVs . Once again, you play as Zelda, who must stop Ganon from conquering the kingdom of Tolemac.
Zelda's Adventure was conceived a year after the release of The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon. Philips executives, sitting around one day, realized they still had the rights to make one more Zelda game, and got to work on what would be their magnum opus. Rather than Animation Magic, Philips contracted out development to Viridis, who drew inspiration from classics such as Lord of the Rings and The Sword in the Stone in crafting this Zelda title.
Zelda's Adventure is widely considered the best of the CD-i triforce, and the greatest Zelda game overall. It was especially praised for its live-action cutscenes, which featured stunning acting and special effects. However, despite being the best Zelda game, it is the most obscure of the CD-i triforce, as it lacks the charming Russian animation of its prequels as well as memorable characters such as Gwonam, Morshu, and King Harkinian.
Unlike the previous two CD-i Zelda games, which took on the side-scrolling view from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Zelda's Adventure is played with an overhead view found in the original Legend of Zelda, in an attempt to appease those Nintendo nerds who thought the last two games "weren't Zeld-y enough." Playing as Princess Zelda, the aim is to fight through the Seven Shrines of the Underworld to collect the celestial signs, and bring the land of Tolemac to an Age of Lightness.
Unlike the other two games, Zelda's Adventure was created by Viridis, an entirely different company, with a change in style and gameplay. Level design is very much like the original Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past, with an overworld that allows access to individual dungeons. The FMV sequences that present the plot are live action instead of animated, and are unfortunately not as entertaining.
Princess Zelda (Kathryn Beaumont) is the heroine of the game, who has to rescue Link...again. On her quest, she must content with idiotic locals, cryptic hints, and long intermissions in order to save the kingdom of Tolemac. Zelda seems to lack her sprightly attitude and sense of wit demonstrated in The Wand of Gamelon, instead feeling more like a Goldilocks/Alice-esque flatbread archetype.
Ganon (Mark Berry) is the villain of the game, resurrected a third time to wreak havoc upon Tolemac. He takes on a new look, never before seen in the previous CD-i games, this time resembling a large Satanic bull. In his last ever appearance on a non-Nintendo console, Ganon pulls all the shots and brings out more of his powers/attacks from the mainline Zelda games, such as teleporting, attacking with his trident, firing a volley of energy balls, and not being defeated by a damn book. Unfortunately, he is blown to bits rather easily by Zelda's magic wand.
Gaspra (Ian McKellen) is a raggedy, dirty old man who serves as Tolemac's court astronomer and token wizard. He lives in a tower all alone, jotting down words on various scrolls, all while occasionally admiring the sky's view from his window. On the occasions where the view is ruined by bad weather, Gaspra states "There will be no more viewing tonight." He guides Zelda on her journey, and at times appears to be rather...fond of her. Despite his poor eyesight, he is somehow still able to read scrolls.
Some time has passed since Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Hyrule has returned to a state of a peace, one strived for by all true warriors. Meanwhile, Ganon uncovers the seven Celestial Signs, and decides to use them for his evil schemes. He and his minions seize the kingdom of Tolemac and steal the Signs; harnessing their power, he morphs into a demon and is able to smite his enemies like never before. Since Tolemac an impassable southeastern region of Hyrule, King Harkinian is unable to send his secret police to the region. Scared of being captured again by Ganon, the King sends Link to free Tolemac.
One night, an old guy named Gaspra finds a bottle and it has a note that reads: "Ganon did bad stuff, Link was captured, and Zelda has to stop him." Gaspra begins to search for a solution, and senses a great magical power: it was the innocent angel Zelda who saved Gamelon from Ganon, not Link. He then tells her what happened and gives her an amulet that transports her to Tolemac. Once there, Zelda is telepathically contacted by Mother Shurmak, who provides her with advice on the journey. Immediately, Zelda finds a weapon: a Magic Wand. The wand gives her the ability to create magic spells that could summon any weapon she had the chance to study. Her quest is long and boring, but she manages to reclaim six of the Celestial Signs.
When Zelda finds the seventh Sign, she is captured by Ganon and locked in his secret dungeon. Ganon morphs into all of the bosses Zelda fought before, then to his "demon" form, but nevertheless gets his ass kicked. Ganon then spins into a tornado and splits apart into several little pieces. Darkness is lifted from Tolemac, and Zelda manages to rescue Link. At the end of the game, Link and Zelda stand where Ganon's fortress once stood. Link, being his usual self, asks Zelda for a kiss; Zelda refuses, but allows him hold her hand out of pity.
After the success of the first two Zelda games, Philips handed the reigns over the Viridis to create a third Zelda game, Zelda's Adventure.
The backgrounds for Zelda's Adventure were created from the team's vacation photos. This decision eased up the game's RAM usage, causing backgrounds to scroll smoothly and causing extreme relief for the game's developers. The CD-i's technical abilities were so limitless that high-quality music took up only one or two kilobytes of system RAM. The houses and interiors built for the cut scenes were built as scale models, showcasing Viridis' passion and attention to detail. Developers have stated they were not influenced by the first two CD-i Zelda games. Zelda's Adventure spent only one week in testing, as it was such a marvel of clean code that it didn't need scrutinizing. Developers had difficulty making sure all the areas of the game had proper background masking.
Intending to push the capacities of the CD-i to its limits, development initially progressed with a goal of 600 screens and 160 NPCs. At this early stage, Viridis Head Honcho Lee Barnes suggested that playthrough time might take as much as 300 hours. These development figures were tripled in the final product, which had millions of handful of NPCs and whose playthrough time was a staggering 9000 hours.
Much like the first two games, Zelda's Adventure was a rousing success. It is widely considered to be the best game of the trilogy, and the best Zelda game overall.