I Am Error: Zelda II’s Existential Crisis Explained

Zelda II I Am Error
Zelda II and its legendary, if mightily confusing, “I AM ERROR”.

After the Legend of Zelda (1986) on the NES, Nintendo done and went and did another one shortly after.

What gamers got was Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Insanely tough and a bit cryptic as well, there’s one little moment that’s now lore in gaming legend.

I Am Error

Zelda is typically surreal and wonderfully weird in the way Nintendo has well and truly mastered. There are many moments which could be considered, but video game lore has long been in awe of a moment in the NES classic The Adventure of Link (1987).

This game’s a bit of a weird one as it deviates massively from the series’ norms. Largely a 2D platformer, its staggeringly high difficulty level has infuriated many gamers over the years, but there’s one character who left a generation massively perplexed.

Link comes across him in a small town (in the game you can talk to characters in an attempt to progress through the game, although they often spout useless information), but when you talk to him he announces: “I AM ERROR.”

Error
Error.

What was up here? Was it a typo? Had there been a translation problem? Was Error suffering an existential crisis? Was he a manic depressive?

At the time Japanese developers often did their translations in-house, with some hilarious results. In the NES era it wasn’t uncommon to have utterly bizarre screens of text which made no sense to English audiences.

Although, these days, everything’s a lot more professional and such errors rarely occur, but in ’88 (when the Western version was released) most people assumed Error was an error. Which is apt.

As a result, Error grew into a mythical figure, and with the advent of the internet he became a popular meme.

It’s since transpired it’s his name. And it isn’t some sort of weird malfunction (although some media sources maintain it’s a translation mistake).

But either way, for a long time there was much confusion on this one. But it’s a positive thing as folks lovingly poke fun at the daftness.

Legacy

Nintendo - I am Error
Indeed.

It’s grown into quite the legend and Nintendo even references it in a 404 page. As you can see in the image above.

The Angry Video Game Nerd has, of course, briefly mentioned Error, and there are even t-shirts and the like out there.

Indie game hit The Binding of Isaac even pays tribute with a secret area. It’s the I AM ERROR room. Which is nice.

We, too, would like to celebrate Error’s existence. He may be stupid and weird, but he’s Zelda stupid and weird. And he has a snappy dress sense, to boot!

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