The Legend of Zelda had a formative influence on me as a child, as it did so many children in my generation. My first encounter with the franchise was the original Nintendo game with its simple, yet wonderfully evocative 8-bit graphics. The second title frankly baffled me at that age, but when the third title, A Link to the Past, came out I was primed and ready to go. My first exposure to the game must have been at a friend's sleep-over birthday party. Watching Link run out into the rainy night in the wee hours of the morning captured my imagination and has held it captive ever since.
That said, it was a while before I got my own Super Nintendo and a chance to actually play the game. What I had to tide me over through that time was the comic series based on the game by Shotaro Ishinomori. It ran in episodes for twelve months in Nintendo Power Magazine. The somber ending was a little ahead of where I was at at the time (childhood illness left me rather sensitive), but I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought a copy of the whole as soon as it became available.
Now, over the years, that copy and all my weighty collection of Nintendo Power Magazines were lost. I don't think I looked at it for almost twenty years. Well, here I am sick again (various stomach issues this time) and Viz comics released in May a new edition of the comic.
Returning to a childhood treasure is always a bit nerve-wracking. Some things simply don't hold up -they were never meant to. It may be a verdict on how well our childhood was spent if we consider how many of the things we dedicated our young lives to could interest us or win our appreciation at any level as adults. I was glad then to see that Shotaro Ishinomori's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past still holds up. In fact, I feel in a better place to appreciate it for what it is (simple, enchanting, light entertainment) than I was as a child. Shotaro Ishinomori preserves the feel of the game while adapting it into a story that works in the comic book medium. He is able to mix drama and light-heartedness in just the right proportions for this sort of story. The opening layouts for each chapter are suitably dramatic, and quite beautiful, and Shotaro deftly handles the short space allotted to each chapter without making the parts feel too condensed or the whole feel incoherent. The presentation of Ganon is perhaps a little weak (though his back story given by the enchanted tree is haunting) but that is an artifact of the game, The artist wisely makes up for this by choosing to center the story around Link learning that being a hero means not working alone, not taking all the credit, and not getting the girl. The Japanese wisdom is definitely appreciated at my age. All in all, the book was eminently worth the eleven or so dollars I paid for it and held up under three readings in quick succession. Here's looking forward to it holding up under many more.