Originally I didn't have the BS Zelda games on the list of my 30th Anniversary replay session, but things changed with the BS Zelda Homepage finally releasing the pinnacle of 17 years of amazing restoration work: fully dubbed versions for BS The Legend of Zelda MAP1 & MAP2 and earlier this month also for Ancient Stone Tablets.
In case you don't know, what I'm talking about, let me give a short summary. In the late 90s the "Broadcast Satellaview" add-on for the Super Nintendo existed (yep, "BS" doesn't stand for what you might think at first), which let you receive satellite data. And with this came actual video game broadcasts, where for a fixed time you could play different Zelda episodes from three games in total:
They were divided into four episodes each, with each episode featuring two dungeons. If you want to know more, just check out the links above. The important thing is that these are in fact official Zelda games made by Nintendo with the usual level of gameplay quality. The way of presenting and distributing the games just was very unusual and they would be completely inaccessible today, if it wasn't for the team of the BS Zelda Homepage.
Well, I played their restoration project several times now, last time back in 2011 for the 25th Anniversary, but this time they outdid themselves by also adding fully translated English voice acting based on the original broadcasts. Now you finally are able to experience the games exactly like they were supposed to be played in full glory. If you play 16-Bit Zelda with the Legend of Zelda song from the Akihabara Electric Circus playing in the background and some Old Man talking to you, this will you magically teleport you back into the 90s.
However, this can also be as annoying as the annoying Bubbles that constantly get mentioned by both the Narrator and the Old Man to tell you, how annoying they are. "Those Bubble, they are the most annoying thing..." - I get it, Old Man! With important information the game even pauses and makes you listen to the sloooow and obnoxious talk from some person, who is obviously not old enough to dub an Old Man. I guess, he has to talk so slow to stay in sync with the original broadcast, but it's a little nerving. The Narrator dubbed by RetroDan, however, does a great job, his voice is pure gold, I could listen to him all day. Zelda also seems to have gotten a lovely voice, but sadly you can only hear her talk one sentence in the beginning of the game...
Good thing about with the narration and the calls from the Old Man is that you get a much better sense at what's happening in the game world. When I first played the BS Zelda games I heavily relied on the available guides, so I wouldn't miss anything, like the Heart Container washed ashore at a certain time on the first episode. But this time I could go in "blind" and still find everything. Of course later versions already added text boxes for the announcements, but here you get all the info. The whole game feels more "tutorialized" with the broadcast in the background, where everything gets explained quite well, even the hidden locations of some items in the dungeons, so you're not missing anything important in the limited time frames.
The biggest advantage, however, is gained with the announced Power-ups that happen at certain times. One of them destroys all enemies on the screen and this felt rather random before. But here the Old Man gives you a warning upfront, so you can potentially use it on some Darknuts or whatever.
Of course the timing of these Power-ups can also be rather comical. For example, when I reached the end of Level 8 on the first Map, I had to defeat a set of Triple Dodongos with only six Bombs left, so there was no room for mistakes. I somehow made it, but my victory became meaningless about ten seconds later, when I suddenly got the Infinite Bombs Power-up among others. Or the Old Man might send you fairies, when you're at full health, etc.
One Power-up I liked was the "people sensor", which basically worked like the Compass from Link's Awakening on the overworld - it plays a tone, whenever there is a hidden cave nearby, so you can potentially find all the caves behind walls and under trees just by listening. Together with the infinite bombs and Red Candle you can easily uncover everything within the time limit.
I also discovered that you can actually bypass the "desert storm" west of the Lost Woods to get the White Sword early in the 2nd chapter. You have to dodge the whirlwinds and it might take you a couple of tries, but after hours of practice from the Endless Cucco Rush, this comes off rather natural...
However, it's not so easy on MAP2, because there you have little to no room to dodge, and ultimately it comes down to luck, where in this case you're literally wasting your time and should just wait until the end of the chapter, where the Old Man makes the desert storm disappear.
Apropos wasting time, if you're worried about the time limit in this, don't be. Overall there's more than enough time to beat two dungeons and collect everything within the 50 minutes that you have per episode. Usually I even go grind Rupees to kill the time at the end of an episode. Only with the 4th chapter of MAP1 I was having some trouble, because Level 7 turned out rather large and disorienting compared to the rest. Often with these dungeons you also won't find the Map early on, which can get frustrating, if you have no clue, where the hidden rooms could be and you're short of bombs (and time). And some stuff is easy to miss, where you then might lose a lot of time later on to track it down. But otherwise it's quite enjoyable to play and also much easier than the NES counterpart.
I've played through both Map 1 and 2, where the voice acting and narration didn't seem to be much different between the episodes. It's the same events and the same hints, it's just that the layout of the overworld is different, which doesn't have any impact on the narration (e.g. the Lost Woods are still in the East). Considering that you actually have to download 4,4GB of pcm video files in order to play this, things could have been made more compact, maybe...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to play Ancient Stone Tablets in its dubbed state next, because this game was a lot more fun and had quite some interaction with Zelda.