The Legend of Zelda
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Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Release Date: Feb. 21, 1986
Why this game mattered: The Legend of Zelda set the standard for action-adventure games the moment it hit shelves. It's one of the original open-world exploration titles, teaming with dungeon crawling, exciting puzzles, and the classic trope of the young, silent hero Link rescuing the now iconic Princess Zelda from the villain Ganon.
Fun fact: Shigeru Miyamoto created The Legend of Zelda based on how he explored as a child. That child-like wonder and excitement of discovery translate very well since there are so many hidden secrets to discover, monsters to battle, and new ways to beat the game, even 34 years later.
Future games influenced by this title: Not only did this first entry spawn many franchise greats to follow, like the legendary Link to the Past on the SNES, Ocarina of Time on the N64, and Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch, but The Legend of Zelda inspired many successful RPGs, such as Crystalis, Soul Blazer, and Brave Fencer Musashi.
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