Next year marks the 30th anniversary of one of my favorite video game titles ever, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening . In fact, this game introduced me to the Legend of Zelda series, as I had no prior knowledge or experience with the other games (The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past).

Crazy, I know. But I was only 12 at the time of Link’s Awakening release and the only video game system we had growing up was the Nintendo Game Boy , and that’s only because I spent all summer mowing lawns and using that money to buy the system and a few games.

I was never really into gaming beyond playing Tetris  and Super Mario Land . I was pretty content with those two titles alone, not really saving up money for other games. It wasn’t until a childhood friend of mine brought his Game Boy and games on a bus ride for a band competition that I became interested in playing something new.

Considering I knew nothing about the game aside from the instruction booklet that came with it, I spent that weekend (and an insane amount of AA batteries) exploring the island and the many different characters, enemies, dungeons, and locations throughout the game. That weekend expanded to summer vacation; I vowed to defeat the game before school started, as well as before my friend decided he wanted the game back.

I would even call him on the phone just to ask what to do whenever I got stuck somewhere or how to defeat a certain boss. You know, stuff we take for granted now due to having information readily available that was damn near impossible 30 years ago. Had I known that there was a guidebook I could buy, I would’ve done that instead.

Anyhow, it’s hard to believe all that happened almost 30 years ago. Over the years, I’ve played the Game Boy Color remake, as well as the many, many eShop versions on various systems, and the latest remake for Nintendo Switch. Each time I play them, the memory of the original game and the personal history behind it comes up and I reflect back to a simpler time of being a kid again.

Even though my friend is no longer here  (R.I.P.), I’ll never forget our friendship and the countless times that I annoyed him with phone calls for hints. Had I not known him or even bought a Game Boy for myself, who knows what games I’d be playing today, if any, that have this much of an impact on my personal growth.