Welcome to LIKE, our new semi-regular series where we praise the wonderful oddities, small miracles and flashes of genius that, in their own specific ways, have enriched videogame history.
This series is not intended as an exploration into grand or pioneering games, but instead a focus on one specific thing that the whole medium wouldn't be quite the same without.
We have intentionally called this series LIKE because, if you happen to love the thing we are praising, you can press the LIKE Facebook button as a way of democratically supporting its inclusion into the series. We hope you enjoy!
First appearance (as Ganon): 1986 , The Legend of Zelda
First appearance (as Ganondorf): 1998, Ocarina of Time
Created by: Nintendo team (Satoru Takizawa, Shigeru Miyamoto)
In February 1985, a skeleton development team at Nintendo's Kyoto studio pieced together a design document for a new project then known as "Adventure Mario".
Several pages of the document bare the signature of Shigeru Miyamoto, scribbled during that brief period of his career when autograph requests were not so much an issue. Scattered across other pages are references to a seemingly random list of items: compasses, boomerangs, bows and arrows, gold and silver.
On another sheet of paper, labelled 'enemies', a name was sketched: Hakkai, a reference to the pig-like character from the 16th century Chinese novel 'Saiyuki'. Hakkai, the legend goes, is a fairly mild-mannered character who turns terrifying once his temper snaps.
Across the three decades since that design template was first drafted, The Legend of Zelda has made an inestimable impact on videogame culture. To this day, it is a series that treats its history with reverence. Those key characters and concepts, pencilled in twenty-seven years ago, remain central to the series' narrative and design. Names may have changed since February 1985, but 'Adventure Mario' and 'Hakkai' were two icons born on the same day.
Each Zelda adventure is enriched and complicated by branching narratives, sub-plots, side-quests and intensifying challenges. By the fortieth hour it becomes a sprawling, scattered story starved of resolution.
It is the sole duty of Ganondorf or Ganon (his 'pig' form) to close these adventures. His duels with Link are a climactic congregation of the game's narrative, production and gameplay. These are visual spectacles, epic and meticulously engineered, that require the player to mix their skills and tools acquired in many hours along the way, with the outcome of the game's story all hinging on a single battle.
There have been only seven such battles since the first Zelda game was released in 1986 (some would argue six). Possibly the most famous is a ground-breaking three-part duel that concludes what many believe is the greatest Zelda game ever; Ocarina of Time (1998).