Link: The Faces of Evil
|Link: The Faces of Evil
| October 10, 1993
December 25, 1993
Link: The Faces of Evil is a video game released for the Philips CD-i in 1993. It was developed by Animation Magic and published by Philips Media alongside Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. The Faces of Evil is very similar to The Wand of Gamelon in aspects, except that it features different main characters, plot, enemies, and level design. Both games, as well as Zelda's Adventure, are the only The Legend of Zelda games where Nintendo was not involved in the their development.
While both games initially received mixed reviews, they are infamous for their extreme negative reception in contemporary reviews and retrospectives, and they are often considered the worst games in The Legend of Zelda franchise, as well as some of the worst games of all time. The CD-i games were ambiguously disowned from the franchise by Eiji Aonuma.
The story begins in Hyrule Castle where Link complains to King Harkinian about being bored. They both discuss the prospects of new adventure. Soon, Link's hopes are fulfilled as Gwonam arrives on a magic carpet and tells them that Ganon has taken over the island of Koridai. Gwonam explains that according to a prophecy, only Link can stop him. Link is flown to Koridai on Gwonam's magic carpet, and the wizard shows him the island's giant stone statues, collectively known as the Faces of Evil, which Link must conquer.
Questing to rescue the Princess and to liberate Koridai, Link proceeds to defeat Ganon's minions; Goronu, Harlequin, Militron, Lupay, and Glutko, from whom the Book of Koridai is retrieved. Aypo is capable of reading the book, and says that the Book itself is enough to defeat Ganon. Along the way, Link is sent by Suprena to Fortress Centrum to retrieve the "Treasure of Death". At the fortress, Link finds what appears to be a sleeping Zelda. Once awakened, however, the figure transforms into a resurrected Goronu. After defeating the sorcerer, Link retrieves the Crystal of Reflection, allowing his shield to reflect curses.
After trekking through Ganon's Lair, Link finally reaches Ganon, who attempts to recruit Link with the promise of great power and the threat of death. Link throws the Book of Koridai to defeat Ganon, and then he awakens the real sleeping Princess Zelda. Gwonam appears and congratulates Link on imprisoning Ganon. He shows Link a recovering Koridai and declares him the island's hero. Link asks Zelda for a kiss, which she refused.
The player plays as Link. At the start of Link's quest, there are three areas which are initially available and accessible through Gwonam's map. The player can access each area by moving the on-screen cursor over it and press Button One to select it.
Similar to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link: The Faces of Evil features side-scrolling gameplay. Link is equipped with both a sword and a shield at the start (even though Gwonam tells him that he only needs a sword). The sword is used to attack enemies and fire power blasts, and the shield can deflect attacks from enemies. The shield automatically lifts when the player is standing still or crouching. Link can purchase other useful items at Morshu's store, including lamp oil, ropes, and bombs. The game uses "rubies" for currency, which Link can obtain from defeating enemies.
Link's health is measured in Life Hearts, which is displayed at the upper-left corner during gameplay. Link has three Life Hearts by default, but he can later obtain more. For each time that Link is injured, he loses as low as half of a Life Heart. When Links loses all of his Life Hearts, he earns a Game Over. For the first two Game Overs, the player is provided with an option of continuing from the entrance that Link entered the area from. When Link loses his Life Hearts a third time, he is returned to the map, and the player is forced to restart the level.
|The Hero of Hyrule. Link was sent to Koridai by request of Gwonam, who knew Link was the only person who could defeat Ganon.
|Kidnapped by Ganon during the events of the game. This game's incarnation of Link seems to be infatuated with her, but it is also likely that he was joking.
|The Koridian wizard who brings Link to Koridai.
|A woman who wants Link to get her necklace back from Gleeok.
|A fisherman who caught a Gohma and gave Link a sword after he correctly identified it.
|The "reader" who translates the Book of Koridai and discovers it is the weapon capable of defeating Ganon.
|Asks Link to rescue Kulvan, her father.
|A large alcoholic gentleman who Horgum encourages Link to seek out. He suggests Link use bombs to kill Glutko from within, similar to a Dodongo.
|Fairies who give Link a life heart and some Water of Life.
|A fishwife who tells Link how she boarded up Crater Cove's titular crater to prevent Dairas from escaping.
|An old woman who is encased in ice after Ganon freezes the fountain. However, she will occasionally be thawed to give Link some Water of Life.
|A bizarre old gentleman who gives Link a lantern and encourages him to seek out Droolik.
|The King of Hyrule. While he does not play much of a role in this game, he is one of the main characters of the sequel.
|A blacksmith who was chained to the Gingko Pinnacle. He increases the power of Link's sword.
|A merchant who sells lamp oil, rope, and bombs to Link.
|An astronomer who improves the lantern after Link hands him a crystal from Serigon Caves.
|An ice sorceress who asks Link to retrieve the 'treasure of death' from Fortress Centrum. She later uses it to strengthen Link's shield.
|An old crone who is able to create the Power Glove after Link retrieves some berries for her brew.
Enemies and obstacles
|In Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon?
|White-maned baboons that throw boulders at Link. They can only be defeated with Firestones.
|Small devils that fly around and only appear in rooms occupied by Militron.
|Former Koridians that have been turned into spear-wielding stone warriors by Militron.
|Pterodactyl-like birds that are commonly seen throughout Koridai. They come in two sizes, though both are functionally identical.
|Flying creatures that emit a trail of smoke behind them. They blow out Link's lantern light when they hit him.
|Wild boars that, fittingly, only appear at Harlequin Bazaar.
|Flying pests that inhabit mountainous valleys. They'll continuously attack Link instead of flying away.
|Short blue blobs that scuttle around on the floor, but will charge towards Link when he's on their level.
|Large stones that block off access to new areas. They can be destroyed by a bomb or the Power Glove. Certain boulders are tougher and require 10 bombs to be destroyed, though the Power Glove requirement is unchanged.
|Yellow alligator men. They can either chase Link and (potentially) throw their axe, or sit in place and just throw their axes.
|Yellow-clad knights often seen in fortified areas. They take several hits to kill, and their shields can block projectiles.
|Flying blue heads with bat-like wings. They only appear in colder areas, such as Nortinka.
|Giant purple spiders that can be found in some of the Faces of Evil.
|Heavily-armored gray lizards who are only weak to bombs.
|Loose rocks and bricks that periodically fall from the ceiling.
|Red-skinned variants of the Daira that are only found around or in volcanoes. They can only be defeated with Snowballs.
|A variant of the Stalfos that attack by shooting flame projectiles from their swords. They can either walk around or kneel in place.
|Flying green serpents that are only found in Ganon's Lair. They are invisible unless Link has the Lantern of Vision.
|Ghostly figures that are seen haunting ruins. They can have either pale or green skin, though they're identical in behavior much like the Arpagos.
|A lone Gleeok has taken up residence in a cavern at Spearfish Falls. It attacks by spitting fireballs and sending two of its three heads after Link.
|Crab-like creatures that live in sandy places such as beaches. They take multiple hits to be killed.
|Blue canines that sometimes throw boomerangs, created by Harlequin from Koridians who lost their money at his casino.
|An odd head that uses two hands to walk around. Only seen in Lupay's Face.
Head of Gleeok
|One of Gleeok's detached heads which flies around and chases Link.
|Falling icicles that only appear in Nortinka and Serigon Caves.
|Flying bat-like creatures with huge mouths, found in some of the Faces of Evil.
|Large bats that are only encountered in the eastern part of Koridai.
|Giant, short pillbugs that are only found in Ganon's Lair.
|Green gargoyle-like enemies that are only found in Ganon's Lair. They are invisible unless Link has the Lantern of Vision.
|A flying mass of tentacles connected to an eye. Link only encounters them right before his duel with Ganon, and are invisible unless Link has the Lantern of Vision.
|Bulldog-like men created by Lupay stealing the souls of Koridai's populace. They behave much like Dairas, but with spears instead of axes.
|Giant earthworms that infest Ganon's Lair.
|Red-hot stones spewed out of the volcanoes in Crater Cove, Spearfish Falls, and Firestone Lake.
|Large red squids that can spit a volley of rocks at Link.
|Flying wheel-shaped fireballs that inhabit Firestone Lake's volcano. They can only be defeated with Snowballs.
|Brown bat-like creatures with a singular eye in their mouth. They are invisible unless Link has the Lantern of Vision.
|Tiny red scorpions that infest Ganon's Lair.
|Tall brick pillars that have skulls attached to their top in one way or another. A single bomb or Power Glove strike destroys them.
|Gray sailfish that are endemic to Koridai's waterfalls, especially Spearfish Falls.
|Skeletal warriors that were resurrected by Goronu. They are only found in a couple of the Faces of Evil.
|Large blue spiders that are only encountered in Militron's Face.
|Big purple hands that grab and damage Link when he gets close. They have a large amount of hit points.
|Purple slimes that are only seen in Harlequin Bazaar.
|Brown creatures that spit stones at Link, and live in the mire surrounding Hermit Flat and Ganon's Lair.
|A gaunt, green-skinned necromancer who resurrects skeletons and turns them into Stalfos. He is also able to shapeshift into other people, such as Princess Zelda. He is weak to Firestones, and will burn up once enough stones hit him. He later appears as the boss of Fortress Centrum.
|A playful, teleporting pig jester who transforms Koridians into Goriyas when they lose all of their Rubies at his casino. He is weak to all of Link's swords, which will pop him like a balloon. He later appears as the miniboss of Lupay's Face.
|An old, overweight man who wears an intimidating suit of blue armor. He turns Koridians into Armos by crushing them in his hand and blasting them with the "fire of war". Several power blasts (or sword slashes) to the head are needed to take down Militron. He later appears as the miniboss of Ganon's Lair.
|A massive, fat, voracious cyclops who eats Koridians. Throwing a bomb at his head will result in him eating it and exploding like a Dodongo. He is fought twice in his respective Face; once near the bust's eye, and again in the Shrine of Koridai.
|A wolf warlock who transforms Koridians into Moblins by stealing their souls with the help of a Ruby. She can also fire green lasers from her third eye. The Reflecting Shield is required to reflect said lasers back at her, as she's immune to all other forms of damage.
|The recurring antagonist of the series. Ganon has taken over Koridai with his allies, and are turning its inhabitants into various monsters. During Link's quest, Ganon abducts Zelda from her bed in the middle of the night. Ganon is defeated by Link throwing the Book of Koridai at him, which seals him into one of its pages.
These are items that can be accessed from Link's inventory:
|A musical instrument that immobilizes all flying enemies for five seconds. It costs five Rubies to use.
|Used to defeat enemies and destroy certain obstacles. Three bombs can be bought at Morshu's store for 20 Rubies. Link can hold up to 99 bombs.
Book of Koridai
|A magical book that is used to entrap and defeat Ganon.
|Replenishes Link's health when used, but must be refilled with Water of Life afterwards.
|Often dropped by volcanic enemies, Firestones can be thrown at other enemies to damage them, especially ones in frozen climates.
|Lights up dark areas for around 20 seconds. It requires one unit of lamp oil to use.
Lantern of Vision
|An upgraded version of the Magic Lantern that makes the flying enemies in Ganon's Lair visible and doesn't need lamp oil to function.
|An upgraded version of the basic Lantern that doubles the time it stays lit from 20 seconds to 40.
|Allows Link to destroy obstacles and enemies instantly, including certain boulders that require ten bombs instead of one. It costs ten Rubies to use.
|Lets Link climb up to specific platforms and ledges. A rope is discarded when successfully used. Three ropes can be bought at Morshu's store for 10 Rubies. Link can hold up to 99 ropes.
|Usually dropped by enemies in frozen climates, and only deals damage against enemies in volcanic climates.
Water of Life
|Restores all of Link's hearts, and fills his canteen if it is present and empty. They can be given to Link by a character or found in bottles scattered across Koridai.
|Allows Link to jump across larger gaps than he is normally able to. It costs ten Rubies to use.
These are items that cannot be used from the inventory:
|Every key instantly unlocks a nearby door.
|Required to power both the basic Lantern and the Magic Lantern. Three units can be bought at Morshu's store for 5 Rubies. Link can hold up to 99 units.
|Adds another full heart to Link's health meter when collected. Two are found across Koridai, while one is obtained by defeating Goronu.
|Used by Link to cross water in areas like Spearfish Falls and Firestone Lake. Exclusive to Ganon's Lair is a red rock floating on lava that serves the same purpose.
|Rubies are used to purchase items from Morshu, as well as use certain items. Link can hold up to 999 Rubies.
|Returns Link to the world map when touched with the Smart Sword. Two can be found in nearly every level; the second Triforce Map is at the end and usually unlocks a new area.
There are some items that Link must trade with other characters:
Crystal of Reflection
|The "Treasure of Death" of Fortress Centrum. Suprena uses it to make the Reflecting Shield.
Crystal of Vision
|Dropped by Lupay upon her death, and traded to Gwonam in Hermit Flat for the Lantern of Vision.
|Dropped by a stationary Phyrandaii at the bottom of Firestone Lake's volcano. Kulvan uses it to craft the Magic Sword.
|Found near the bottom of Firestone Lake's volcano, but above the Fire Diamond. It is given to Zorga so she can make the Power Glove.
|Located within one of Serigon Caves' caverns, Odranoel uses it to create the Magic Lantern.
|Stolen by Gleeok from its owner, Alora. Link trades it for the canteen and a kiss.
The only weapons used by Link are a sword and a shield, both of which have at least one upgrade:
|An upgraded Power Sword that fires power blasts no matter how much health Link has.
|An upgraded Smart Sword that fires power blasts when Link is at full health.
|An upgraded shield that reflects the magical projectiles thrown by Lupay.
|The shield that Link starts out with. It can block any projectile as long as they make contact while Link stands still.
|The sword that Link starts out with. It is used to attack enemies and pick up items, as well as make friendly characters talk.
Three locations are initially available at the start of the game; Crater Cove, Goronu, and Nortinka. More locations are unlocked after hitting the Triforce Map at the end of specific stages.
Faces of Evil
The Faces of Evil are large, labyrinthian busts of Ganon and his minions, carved into the mountains of Koridai. Link must conquer each Face by defeating its owner and likeness. Almost every Face has a unique item acquired within it.
|The first Face, a crypt which contains the bell. Near it are two bridges leading to a store ran by Morshu. At the end, Link fights the Face's owner, a necromancer named Goronu.
|The second Face, a huge casino and bazaar which contains the Magic Lantern. Near the end, Link fights Harlequin, a pig jester who owns the establishment.
|The third Face, a metal and brick fortress which contains the Winged Helmet. At the end, Link fights the Face's owner, a heavily-armored man named Militron.
|The fourth Face is a brick labyrinth connected to the house of Droolik. Next to it are the West Tower and the Shrine of Koridai, the latter of which holds the Book of Koridai. Link fights the Face's owner, a gluttonous green cyclops named Glutko, twice in the dungeon.
|The fifth Face, a partially-frozen cavern which contains the Crystal of Reflection. Near the end, Link fights Lupay, a wolf warlock who owns the Face, as well as a resurrected Harlequin.
|The sixth and final Face, a ramshackle crypt and fortress built near Hermit Flat. No new items are acquired here. Link encounters a rebuilt Militron in the middle of the Face. At the dungeon's end, he defeats Ganon and wakes the sleeping Princess Zelda.
Landmarks and regions
|A small fishing village near Goronu that's next to a Daira-infested magma chamber.
|A nearly-abandoned ice village behind Lupay that suffers from a frozen fountain.
|A lighthouse perched on the shores of Glutko. Near it is a raided trailhouse.
|A series of waterfalls coming down from Militron's face.
|A boiling lake that surrounds a constantly-erupting volcano, both of which are behind Ganon's Lair.
|A stranded ship perched high on a mountain. Below the ship is a trail that leads down the nearby Gingko Pinnacle.
|A series of ice caverns located at the very top of Koridai.
|An old fortress overlooking Ganon's Lair and Firestone Lake. Near the end, Link fights a resurrected Goronu.
|A desert valley in front of Ganon's Lair. In the middle of it is Gwonam's home.
In 1989, Nintendo signed a deal with Sony to begin development of a CD-ROM-based system known as the "Nintendo Play Station" (or the "SNES CD") to be an add-on to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that would allow for FMV and larger games. However, Nintendo broke the agreement and instead signed with Philips to make the add-on, which caused Sony to spin off their add-on into its own console called the PlayStation. Witnessing the poor reception of the Sega Mega-CD, Nintendo scrapped the idea of making an add-on entirely. As a compromise, Nintendo gave Philips permission to use some of their Zelda characters on their console, the Philips CD-i.
Contracting out to independent studios, Philips subsequently used the characters to create three games for the CD-i. According to an interview with Dale DeSharone, Nintendo was not involved in the development except for providing input on the character designs. Philips insisted that the development studios utilize all aspects of the CD-i's capabilities, including FMV, high-resolution graphics, and CD-quality music. Philips served as the publisher and was barely involved with development. Dale believed that Philips would disapprove of a top-down view similar to the original The Legend of Zelda, which he stated would have "looked old, and (would not) make use of the CD-i capabilities."
The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon were showcased at the 1993 CES, where audiences were surprised with their degree of animation.
Budget and design
The Faces of Evil, along with The Wand of Gamelon, are the first two Nintendo-licensed games released on the Philips CD-i. They were given the relatively low budget of approximately $600,000, and the development deadline was set a little over a year—time which would have to be split between the both games. The developer, Animation Magic, decided that both games would be developed in tandem and share a graphics engine to more efficiently use the budget.
The rest of the development team included three programmers (all previous employees of Spinnaker Software), one musician (Tony Trippi) and freelance writer Jonathan Merritt, who created the scripts and designs. Under DeSharone's direction, game development progressed similarly to that of his earlier-directed title, Below the Root, a game which Retro Gamer's John Szczepaniak has suggested may have served as a forerunner of sorts. Background designs were created by local Cambridge artists.
The animated cutscenes were created by a team of four animators from Russia, led by Igor Razboff, who were flown to the United States for the project. These games marked the first time that Russian outsourcing had been utilized by an American company – a move that was only possible due to the somewhat thawed political climate after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
At the time of its release, contemporary criticism was largely positive to mixed for both games. SNES Force magazine described the animated sequences as "breathtaking" and praised the game for its high-resolution graphics and its "brilliant" use of sound and speech. Highly anticipated by the French video game press, Joystick magazine's development preview of The Faces of Evil described it as a veritable arcade-quality game with stunning graphics and "perfect animation". The same magazine would ultimately score The Faces of Evil 79%, a few months later, giving particularly high marks for music, sound effects and play-through time.
Despite the largely negative reception that the games have received, there have been a few positive reviews. Both Danny Cowan of 1UP.com and John Szczepaniak of Hardcore Gaming 101 praised Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon as among the best games on the CD-i. Szczepaniak in particular suggested that several of the magazines that had rated and reviewed Wand of Gamelon and Faces of Evil had engaged in hate campaigns having never even played the game. Their praises drew from the games' detailed, well-drawn in-game backgrounds (which was described as both Gigeresque and Monet-esque) and "pretty decent" gameplay, although both criticized the controls. According to Szczepaniak, the games' controls work best when played with a hardwired three-button CD-i control pad, as opposed to the CD-i's "crappy infra-red remote".
In a periodical for Retro Gamer magazine, Szczepaniak identified the natural comparison of the games by reviewers to the quality of games in the rest of the Zelda series as an improper comparison to make and suggested that when reviewed in their own right, the games were actually excellent. In contrast with the mainstream criticism, Retro Gamer described the games as "astoundingly good" and rated them together as number ten in its "Perfect Ten Games" for CD-i. Both games were even praised for exhilarating pacing and superb gameplay design.
Other publications gave more negative reviews. CDi Magazine rated The Faces of Evil 65%, stating that the game was a poor relation to the original Nintendo games and singling out the perfunctory storyline, the lack of graphical features like parallax and the slow and repetitious gameplay. Another reviewer for the magazine gave The Wand of Gamelon a higher 75% and called it a "reasonably good game" for its puzzles and animated sequences. He however criticized its plot and controls. In 1994, Edge reported that as CD-i sales began to suffer, criticism sharpened and the games were described as low-cost, low-risk ventures that had failed to excite any interest in the platform.
Criticism has been directed towards numerous aspects of both games, including its unresponsive controls, repetitive gameplay, its cutscenes, and voice acting. The cutscenes in particular are popular targets of derision, most often in YouTube Poop videos.
Wired magazine said that the animation in both games was extremely simple and stilted and that the graphics had several glitches. The designers were criticized by IGN's Travis Fahs for using a style similar to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for the games and for "insufferable" controls and the designers' poor understanding of The Legend of Zelda franchise. However, he noted that the backgrounds looked decent considering the poor design of the CD-i's hardware.
The games' soundtracks drew mixed responses. Zelda Elements felt it was "average" and not up to the usual Zelda quality, while IGN described the soundtrack as "redbook audio CD pop". However, this has been contested by other reviewers, who described it as diverse, high-quality and superb with an adventurous upbeat tempo blending "delicious '80s synth", electric guitar, panpipes, marimbas and other unusual instruments.
- Jeffrey Rath – Link
- Jeffrey Nelson – Morshu, Militron
- Mark Berry – Ganon, King Harkinian
- Natalie Brown – Fairies, Blacksmith's Daughter, Ice Queen
- Chris Flockton – Blacksmith, Goronu
- Jerry Goodwin – Glutko, Beer Guy
- Karen Grace – Astronomer, Lupay
- John Mahon – Fisherman
- Josie McElroy – Friendly Witch, Frozen Lady, Fish Lady
- Phil Miller – Lighthouse Caretaker
- Marguerite Scott – Water Woman
- Paul Wann – Gwonam, Harlequin, Ipo
- Bonnie Jean Wilbur – Princess Zelda