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Image credit: Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post

'The Legend of Zelda' marks its 30th birthday

Link has grown a lot in three decades.

Jon Fingas , @jonfingas
02.21.16 in AV
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Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post

Gamers, you have permission to feel old once again: The Legend of Zelda just turned 30. Nintendo released the classic action-adventure in Japan on the Famicom Disk System (it wasn't even a cartridge at the time) all the way back on February 21st, 1986, kicking off one of the biggest franchises in video game history. The series has since sold tens of millions of copies -- over 75 million at last count -- and has had a presence on virtually every Nintendo system to date.

The Zelda franchise hasn't always been successful... just ask anyone who had the misfortune of playing the cringeworthy CD-i titles, or watched the short-lived TV show. However, it had more than its fair share of hits over the years, and sometimes pushed the boundaries of gaming. The original arguably set the template for hack-and-slash games for decades to come. The Ocarina of Time helped prove that 3D games were here to stay, and The Wind Waker showed that distinctive art can make a great title that much better. And who can forget the music or endless memes?

So what's coming next? Not surprisingly, Nintendo is milking this cash cow on its 30th birthday. It's releasing both a Twilight Princess remaster (for Wii U) and Hyrule Warriors Legends (for 3DS) within the next several weeks, and there's a brand new Wii U game hitting shelves later this year. It won't be shocking if more games pop up on the NX, too. Zelda is second only to Mario in Nintendo's list of surefire moneymakers, and it's likely to have a healthy future as long as people still have soft spots for Link and crew.

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