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My Journey Through Hyrule: Revisited

On 02/25/2013 at 08:59 PM by Jesse Miller

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Before I was the Features Editor here at PixlBit, I was a blogger at 1up.  Below is my most personal, and best received blog.  I'm presenting it in its entirety and in its original form - completely unedited. Enjoy.

In 1986 my sister was diagnosed with Leukemia – she was two and I was soon to be four.  At the time I didn’t really comprehend what this particular news meant.  Words like chemotherapy and broviac were not a part of my vocabulary though they soon would be.  Trips to Children’s Floating Hospital in Boston were soon the norm and I became quite familiar with the staff as well as the various waiting rooms throughout the hospital.

It was in one of these waiting rooms that I was first introduced to Nintendo.  I had seen commercials for the video system on television, but had never actually seen a Mario game in person.  Like most children I was transfixed on the pixilated plumber making his way across the screen, stomping on little innocuous Goombas and Koopa Troopas’ as he came across them. 

I was a natural at the game, so to say, and it quickly became a go-to method of keeping me busy while my sister was undergoing her treatments.  In the next year it seemed that everyone had a Nintendo, myself included having been given one for my fifth birthday.

As time went on my sister didn’t get any better.  Trips to the hospital were becoming more and more frequent and it wasn’t at all uncommon for me to spend nights at my cousins’ house.  When I had the chance, I would bring a game or two with me to help pass the time.

I’m not exactly sure how I got my copy of The Legend of Zelda – I was only young after all – but I do remember being enthralled with it.  The cartridge itself was gold and metallic looking, which resulted in my keeping it separate from my other games.  It was proudly displayed in plain sight like someone would display a bowling trophy; silly as it was the game seemed magical.

The Legend of Zelda offered me something that was priceless to me at that time in my life.  It offered me the ability to escape my reality for a little bit.  I loved my sister very much and spent as much time with her as I could.  But when she was spending nights and even weeks in the hospital, I could escape to Hyrule with Link and the Princess Zelda.

The story became a metaphor to me.  I would take the main role of Link.  My sister would assume the role of Zelda.  Her cancer was Ganon.  In my inner fantasy I was able to save my sister and deliver her from Ganon back to her rightful place in the world.  Playing the game gave me hope that my sister would be okay and eventually everything would go back to the way it was supposed to be. 

I never completed the game.  I would get close to the end and start over.  What was important to me wasn’t the end, it was the journey.  As long as my sister battled cancer I needed the little piece of hope that the Legend of Zelda offered me.

My sister passed away in the fall of 1989.  I haven’t played the first game since. 

At first I was mad at the game.  I had invested so much emotion into my metaphorical journey across Hyrule that to have anything other than a happy ending was preposterous and downright unacceptable.  I traded my copy of the game to a kid from school for Mega Man II.  As far as I was concerned Link had betrayed me and I wanted to be as far away from that game as I possibly could be.

But as the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Landslide’ goes, “children get older, I’m getting older too.”

A couple of years passed and I found myself at a friend’s house.  He had just received A Link to the Past for his birthday and was stoked to show it off to me.  I’ll admit, I was not really pleased with the idea of entering a realm I left in disgust years ago, but I wasn’t about to throw a hissy fit over it, so I humored him and let him demo the game for me. 

From the very first screens I was inundated with memories and emotions.  It’s an odd thing for a young child to experience nostalgia, but watching this newer Link gut through blades of grass, solve puzzles and slash through enemies brought me back to a special place.  I was suddenly reminded that while I was unable to save my sister this game had given me so much; it had provided me with an escape from a hard period in my life and had also given me a glimmer of hope.

And hope, no matter how small it may be, is always worth having.  And for that I am thankful.

Happy Gaming.




02/25/2013 at 09:20 PM

Thanks for sharing this.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

02/25/2013 at 09:26 PM

Great blog.  Thanks for writing and posting it.  Games really have the power to take us away to better places when we need it the most.  


02/25/2013 at 09:30 PM

Aww crap Jesse, you made my screen go all blurry again. 

Sometimes I want to believe that there is magic in this world that can make everything right, that good always triumphs over evil and that if we wish hard enough we can save our loved ones from pain and suffering. 

Well told Jesse

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

02/25/2013 at 09:43 PM

I remember this blog...  very hard to read again, but I had to.  I like it just as much as I did the first time, even if it does make me tear up.


02/25/2013 at 09:54 PM

Nice of you to let us take part in your memory.Smile 


02/25/2013 at 09:57 PM

I believe I remember this blog. I remember you talking about the gold cartridge. Either way, Thanks for sharing....


02/25/2013 at 10:10 PM

Man, that is tough.  You reminded me of some of my first impressions of the NES and Zelda.  That gold game was like a treasure to me.  It is crazy how people can have similar experiences with games under such completely different circumstances.  Thanks for sharing.

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

02/25/2013 at 10:11 PM

Great blog, Jesse. It is fitting that the original inspiration behind 'The Legend of Zelda' was Miyamoto exploring the woods by his home as a child; never does a person need a sense of wonder more than when they are facing a hardship as you did. I wrote about something similar with my recent post on Red Dead Redemption. While nowhere near as difficult as the situation you faced, it reflects the concept of how exploring a world can help deliver some wonder into our world when we need it most.

Thanks for sharing this man.

Princess Toadstool

02/25/2013 at 11:13 PM

I love this story.



Jesse Miller Staff Writer

02/26/2013 at 09:36 AM

Thanks for all the kind words folks.  I always loved how people, myself included, felt comfortable writing about important, emotional things.  I hope everyone feels the same about PixlBit.


03/01/2013 at 12:03 AM

Great blog, thanks for sharing this.

I have gone though sometime similar like this about my Dad and I with certain games. I still have his save files from some of them too.Sometimes it's nice to go back and play them just to remember the good times of watching him play through them. They are a nice way to get through the tough times. I'm glad you had something similar to help you get through yours.


03/01/2013 at 12:13 AM

That's a nice story... My fantasy game was Final Fantasy VI. The game just became a living world to me. Sometimes I miss placing myself in the characters' roles.

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