The best way to experience the beginnings of 2D and 3D Zelda, one of the best (and my favorite) fantasy game series of all time. In short, all four games (the original Legend of Zelda arcade game, LOZ: Adventure of Link, LOZ: Ocarina of Time, and LOZ: Majora's Mask are presented in their primes, and all on one system! The first Zelda and Adventure of Link are virtually unchanged from their original versions, except that there is an additional pause button (Y on the controller) and your progress in both games can be copied onto one of three save spaces or deleted without having to restart the console or go back to the main menu. Ocarina is the game that is most different from it's original version, as it is version 1.2, the version that omitted the controversial elements of the Fire Temple and the Mirror Shield, and the rumble feature is on by default (you can turn it off when you start up the game, but I recommend leaving it on as there is a special item that, while not needed to complete the game or any of the side quests, is helpful if you play without using a guide). Majora's Mask is almost exactly like the original version, except for some negligible audio errors that can happen. Aside from the game being played on the GameCube controller, the controls in all the games are the same as in the originals, with no "optimizations" or tweaks to the movements, making this game the highest quality way to experience these four games prior to the 3D remakes.
If you are unfamiliar with the games, allow me to breifly share my thoughts on them. The original Legend of Zelda arcade game is the perfect blend of curious and challenging, with no tutorial, no indication on where to go, and a small, mysteriously inviting opening being the entire introduction to the game. While the game is extremely basic compared to modern games, the simple gameplay is strangely compelling, and although death is all but guaranteed, the challenges presented will make you want to look for every weapon, every item, every shop, and every secret passage way. As a side note, while a guide to the game is not required, the game contains many secret and hard-to-find areas with virtually no indication on how to find them, so if you are easily frustrated a guide is a must.
LOZ: the Adventure of Link is widely considered the black sheep of the Zelda franchise, and while it has some redeeming values I tend to agree that this is the worst of the the (cannon) Zelda games. This side-scrolling Zelda was designed from its inception to be more difficult than the first game, a notoriously difficult game in it's own right, which in my opinion tips the balance of challenge and mystery frustratingly far into the challenging. Unlike in the original game, where you blocked by facing in the correct direction and where dodging was quick and easy, in this game you block by facing the right way and standing or crouching, and you dodge by jumping a very short distance. There is also an RPG element where you upgrade your base stats, but in my opinion the upgrades are too incremental. Basically, save this game for last, when you are committed and are ready for a challenge.
LOZ: Ocarina of Time. What can I say about it that has not already been said? It is a masterpiece, perhaps the best telling of a story ever done through the medium of a video game. The controls are easy to learn but hard to master, the enemies are diverse and mostly require different techniques to best them, the dungeons set the precedents that virtually all other 3D games strive for (highly atmospheric, varies between each other and within themselves, full of unique challenges, ect), and there are a myriad of side quests and vibrant characters that you meet multiple times during the game. I very highly recommend NOT USING A GAME GUIDE! The plot twists, while somewhat predictable, are performed so well that it can truly amaze you; the characters are powerful and genuine, and many of them are unforgettable (a year after playing the game, I can still name them); the puzzles are challenging and mysterious in a way that is far more evolved than the 2D games on the disc, but finding the solution or the right item can be an incredible experience, truly the highlights of the places they take place in; all of that loses it's punch if you know what is coming.
LOZ: Majora's Mask is the perfect answer to the question "How do we continue after completing one of the greatest games of all time". This game keeps many of the elements from Ocarina and perfects them, while also offering a radically different experience that distinguishes Majora from the rest of the franchise. Whereas the rest of the Zelda games (mostly) are about exploration and discovery at your own pace, gradually and gracefully building up your arsenal and your experiences, Majora's Mask, while not totally going away from those ideas, is about carefully organizing your actions in order to beat the clock and save the entire world from destruction while uncovering a plethora of carefully orchestrated stories that occur all around you. The game offers additional combat options to the combat from Ocarina, more and better forms of traversing the world, a greater emphasis on powers than on items, a large roster of new and returning enemies, and a revolutionary time travel mechanic that adds a new layer of adventure and storytelling. Again, I recommend not using a guide, but in many cases, especially on the side quests, a guide would be a great help due to the complexity of the game.
Make no mistake, the 4 games are the focal point. There are additional features on the disc, but they are mediocre. There are two cinematic, both less than 2 minutes long; one shows footage of every Zelda game before and including Wind Waker, the other is a glorified ad for Wind Waker. Speaking of which, the third and final feature outside the 4 games is a demo of Wind Waker, which was published a few months after this disc released. It has 3 segments of the early portion of the game that you can play through, and there is a fairly large amount of content that you can reach. Unfortunately, after 20 minutes the game will automatically kick you back to the main menu without saving your progress, so the entire demo of Wind Waker is not really worth it. Just know that you can play each segment as many times as you want, in any order, without them ever going away.
Length of ownership: 1 year or longer
yes: I recommend this product