10/29/21Learn more

Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda – Secrets Series - Part 1

Part 1: Regional Game Differences

This year marks the 35th anniversary since the release of the original The Legend of Zelda game. Now, the Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda system, featuring that game and other retro Legend of Zelda classics, is launching soon.

To help celebrate, we’ll be diving into some secrets hidden within the system over the course of three articles.

Our first article will examine some differences between the Japanese and western releases of the three games included in this system: The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link™, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. With Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda, you can switch between the different regional versions of each game quite easily.

In addition to their languages, the Japanese and western versions of these three games differ from each other in a number of ways. We’ll go over a few of the differences to keep an eye out for while playing.

■ The Legend of Zelda (Languages: Japanese/English)

■ Sound

First, did you know the two versions feature different music and sound effects? Try giving them both a listen!

Originally, the Japanese version of the game was sold for the Family Computer (Famicom) Disk System, while the English version was sold as a game cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System™ (NES™). The technology of the disk system allowed for one extra audio channel, which accounts for the differences you can hear. The music of the Japanese version sounds a bit more groovy, right?


If you look closely, you’ll see the thickness of the fonts in the two versions differs as well. It’s pretty subtle, but it’s there!

Japanese version

English version

Dungeon Enemies

The two versions of the game also feature enemies placed in different locations in some of the dungeons.

LEVEL-4 Dungeon

Japanese version: no enemies

English version: Keese!

LEVEL-5 Dungeon

Japanese version: no enemies

English version: More Keese!

■ Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Languages: Japanese/English)


In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, there are a lot of areas where the look of the game differs significantly between the Japanese and English versions.

We’ll give just a few examples below but try playing both versions yourself to see how many differences you can find!

Starting screen: The English version features candles burning near the sleeping Princess Zelda, and more pillars as well.

Japanese version

English version

Characters: Some characters look different in each version, and some only appear in the English version.

Japanese version

English version

Monsters: Monsters differ both in appearance and how they attack, even offering different amounts of experience points.

Barba in the Japanese version

Barba in the English version

Overworld screen: Monster icons differ

Japanese version

English version

Palaces: Multiple palaces in the Japanese version share the same color scheme, while each palace in the English version features a unique color.

5th palace in the Japanese version

5th palace in the English version

Game Over screen: Ganon appears in the English version

Japanese version

English version


There are many spots in the Japanese and English versions where the music and sound effects are completely different!

Level-up system

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link features a system in which the player builds up experience points and can then use them to increase their levels of three so-called “elements”: ATTACK, MAGIC, or LIFE. This system worked a bit differently in the two versions of the game.

Japanese version

English version

Each of Link's three elements require the same number of experience points to increase.

The three elements each require a different number of experience points to increase.

Also, getting a Game Over in the Japanese version causes all three of Link’s elements to be reset to the level of whichever was lowest, but this level decrease doesn’t occur in the English version. If you’re craving a challenge, give the Japanese version a try!

Link gets a Game Over with his LIFE at level 2

In the Japanese version, all abilities reset to the level of the previously lowest ability, level 1.

In the English version, Link's LIFE remains at level 2.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Japanese/English/German/French)

Opening Scene

Japanese version: standard trees

western version: palm trees

Player’s Name Secrets

In the western versions of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, entering the name “ZELDA” will cause a special version of the main theme to play. In the Japanese version, this song can be heard by entering the characters “ぜるだ” (to spell the name Zelda in Japanese).

Moving on, also in the Japanese version, entering the Japanese characters “とたけけ” (to spell the name “Totakeke”) will play another special music track on the character select screen.

And that’s not all! You can enter the name “LOLO” in the French version and the name “MOYSE” in the German version to hear two additional music tracks on the character select screen. Give them all a try!

Well? What did you think?

We’ve only introduced a handful of the many differences between the versions of these three games. You’ll have to play them yourself to see how many you can spot.

Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda launches on Friday, November 12th.

My Nintendo members who purchase Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda will also earn 300 My Nintendo Platinum Points*. These points can be claimed by entering the My Nintendo Points code included with the system while logged into your Nintendo Account on the My Nintendo website. (Points can be claimed until November 30, 2023.)

My Nintendo Platinum Points can be earned for using various services or as a prize for certain promotions or tournaments. These points can be redeemed for any reward that requires Platinum Points.

Stay tuned for next week’s article: Saving the World in 12 Hours? Mysteries of the Playable Clock

See you then!

*A Nintendo Account is required to receive and redeem points. Terms apply: https://accounts.nintendo.com/term_point