Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon

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Link: The Faces of Evil
Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
Link facesofevil packaging.jpgZelda wandofgamelon packaging.jpg
Box art for Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
Developer(s) Animation Magic
Publisher(s) Philips Interactive Media
Distributor(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Dale DeSharone
Producer(s) Dale DeSharone
Stephen Radosh (executive)
William Havlicek (audio)
Igor Razboff (animation)
Designer(s) Dale DeSharone (game)
Rob Dunlavey (game, graphic, and production)
Jonathan Merritt (game)
Vasiliev A. (character)
Smirnov V. (character)
Programmer(s) Linde Dynneson
John O'Brien
John Wheeler
Artist(s) Tom Curry (background paintings)
Max Stienmetz (sprite)
John Ursino (sprite)
Rob Dunlavey (additional)
Writer(s) Jonathan Merritt
Composer(s) Tony Trippi
William Havlicek
Series The Legend of Zelda
Platform(s) Philips CD-i
Release date(s)
  • NA October 10, 1993
  • EU 1993
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon are two action-adventure video games developed by Animation Magic and published by Philips Interactive Media for the CD-i video game console. The two games were released at the same time, and look and play similarly due to their simultaneous development cycle and low budget. Another game was released for the CD-i, titled Zelda's Adventure, which featured a different developer and perspective than its predecessors.

Link: The Faces of Evil puts players in control of Link, while Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon has players control Princess Zelda. Both travel to a new world (Koridai and Gamelon respectively) to thwart Ganon's plans. Both games received positive reception at the time of release. Later on, both games have become infamous with contemporary critics, such as Seanbaby (who ranked it among the worst games ever made) and the Angry Video Game Nerd, who gave it an overwhelmingly negative reception.


Link battling two Dairas near Morshu's shop in Goronu, one of the first levels in Link: The Faces of Evil.

Players take control of Link in The Faces of Evil and Zelda in The Wand of Gamelon. In the beginning of both games, players have access to only three areas which are accessed through an in-game map.[2][3] The two characters only have their swords and shields at this stage. The sword can be used to attack enemies either by stabbing or shooting "Power Blasts" while the shield can deflect attacks. The shield is used whenever the player-character is standing still or crouching. They gain new items later on in the game including lamp oil, rope, and bombs which can be purchased at a shop.[3][4][5] Rubies (Rupees in canon Zelda games) can be obtained by stabbing them with the sword after defeating an enemy; after which they can be spent at the shop.

The player's health is measured in "Life Hearts". Although the player begins the game with only three hearts, there are ways to earn more. Each time the player-character is injured, they will lose at least one-half of a heart. The first two times the player-character runs out of Life Hearts, the player will be given the option of continuing from near the point where their last heart was lost. When the player-character loses their hearts for a third time, they will be returned to the map and the player will have to start the level from the beginning. Returning to the map replenishes their Life Hearts and lives and they will retain any items and rubies they picked up.[2][3]


Link: The Faces of Evil[edit]

The story begins in Hyrule Castle, where a bored Link (the series' protagonist) discusses with King Harkinian the prospects of new adventure.[6] Soon Link's hopes are fulfilled, as a wizard named Gwonam arrives on a magic carpet, telling them that Ganon (the series' antagonist) and his minions have taken over the island of Koridai and, according to a prophecy, only Link can stop them.[7] Link is transported to Koridai and the wizard shows him the fabled island's giant stone statues known as the Faces of Evil which Link must conquer.[8][9][10] During Link's time in Koridai, Princess Zelda is kidnapped by Ganon and imprisoned in his lair.[11][12]

Questing to rescue the Princess and to liberate Koridai, Link is sent by the Ice Queen to Fortress Centrum to retrieve the Treasure of Death.[13] At the fortress, Link finds what appears to be a sleeping Zelda. Once awakened, however, the figure transforms into Goronu, a shapeshifting necromancer who works for Ganon. After defeating Goronu, Link retrieves the Crystal of Reflection, which allows his shield to reflect curses.[14]

Link then proceeds to defeat Ganon's minions, which include the revived Goronu, the anthropomorphic pig Harlequin, the armored pyrokinetic Militron, the three-eyed wolfgirl Lupay, and the gluttonous cyclops Glutko, the last from which the Book of Koridai is retrieved. A translator named Ipo reveals that the book itself is enough to defeat Ganon.[15]

After trekking through Ganon's Lair,[16] Link finally reaches Ganon, who attempts to recruit Link with the promise of great power and the threat of death.[17] After the ensuing climactic battle, Link imprisons him in the Book of Koridai[18] and then awakens the sleeping princess Zelda. Gwonam appears and congratulates Link on imprisoning Ganon. He shows the two a recovering Koridai and declares Link the island's hero. However, Zelda refuses to kiss him as a reward.[19]

Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon[edit]

King Harkinian announces his plan to aid Duke Onkled (also voiced by Nelson) of Gamelon (possibly named after Camelot with the first and last letters changed) when the latter falls under attack by Ganon,[20][21] and orders Zelda to send Link for backup in case that he does not return from his mission within a month.[22] A month passes without word from the King,[23] so Zelda sends Link to find him.[20][24]

When he too goes missing,[20] Zelda ventures off to Gamelon (accompanied by the elderly Impa) to find both Link and the King.[20][25] During Zelda's time in Gamelon, Impa discovers that King Harkinian has been captured, and that Link has engaged in a battle, the outcome of which is unclear.[26] As she adventures across the island, Zelda meets many friendly characters and battles with many monsters and enemies including the villains Gibdo and Iron Knuckle. Along her travels Zelda battles the sorcerer, Wizzrobe, to free Lady Alma (Natalie Brown), who gives Zelda a canteen that she claims Link gave her in exchange for a kiss.

On reaching Duke Onkled's palace, Domodai Palace, it is revealed that Duke Onkled has betrayed the King and is working for Ganon.[27] Zelda storms the palace, kills Ganon's minion Hectan, and saves an imprisoned Spaniard named Fari (also voiced by Berry) who used to work for the King. Fari reveals the secret entrance to Onkled's chamber, and when they confront him he reveals the entrance to Reesong Palace, where Ganon has taken residence.[28]

Zelda travels to the Shrine of Gamelon to defeat the head-switching chimera Omfak and obtain the Wand needed to defeat Ganon, and she also visits Nokani Forest to obtain the magic lantern needed to clear the darkness around Ganon. Finally at Reesong Palace, Zelda fights Ganon, incapacitates him with the Wand, and rescues her father. Back at Hyrule Castle, Duke Onkled is turned over to the king, begging for mercy. He is arrested and punished by becoming a lowly drudge for the King.[29] Although Link's whereabouts are still unknown, a comment by Lady Alma prompts Zelda to throw her mirror against the wall, and as it smashes, Link magically materializes, seemingly having been trapped in the mirror. They then start laughing because they're happy that all is well again.



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.[9][30] 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.[8][9][31] Witnessing the poor reception of the Sega Mega-CD, Nintendo scrapped the idea of making an add-on entirely.[9][30] As part of dissolving the agreement with Philips, Nintendo gave them the license to use five of their characters, including Link, Princess Zelda, and Ganon, for games on Philips's console called the CD-i, after the partnership's dissolution.[30][32]

Contracting out to independent studios, Philips subsequently used the characters to create three games for the CD-i, with Nintendo taking no part in their development except to give input on the look of the characters[11][30] based on the artwork from Nintendo's original two titles and that of their respective instruction booklets.[33] Philips insisted that the development studios utilize all aspects of the CD-i's capabilities including FMV,[20] high-resolution graphics, and CD-quality music.[33] Because the system had not been designed as a dedicated video game console, there were several technical limitations, such as laggy controls (especially for the standard infrared controller),[20] and numerous problems in streaming-audio, memory, disc access, and graphics.[33] The first two games were showcased at the 1993 CES and surprised audiences with their degree of animation.[34]

Budget and design[edit]

The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon were the first two Nintendo-licensed games released on the Philips CD-i.[1] They were given the relatively low budget of approximately $600,000 and the development deadline was set at a little over a year—time which would have to be split between the two games.[20][33] It was decided by Animation Magic, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based development team led by Dale DeSharone, that the two games would be developed in tandem and would share the same graphics engine to more efficiently use the budget.[35]

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.[33] 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.[36] Background designs were created by local Cambridge artists.[33]

IGN's Peer Schneider claimed that the decision to star Zelda in The Wand of Gamelon was based on the fact that the CD-i's library was directed at females. However, he felt that they failed at this due to Zelda playing the same as Link.[37]


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.[33] 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.[33]

Voice acting[edit]

For voice acting, Animation Magic auditioned local AFTRA actors. In Link: The Faces of Evil, the voice of Link was provided by Jeffrey Rath, the voice of Princess Zelda by Bonnie Jean Wilbur, and the voice of Ganon by Mark Berry.[38] Additional voices were provided by Jeffrey Nelson, Natalie Brown, Chris Flockton, Jerry Goodwin, Karen Grace, John Mahon, Josie McElroy, Phil Miller, Marguerite Scott and Paul Wann.[39]

The Wand of Gamelon featured most of the same voice cast as Faces of Evil, save for Flockton, Goodwin, Mahon and Miller.[40]


Contemporary responses[edit]

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.[41] 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". They gave The Wand of Gamelon similar praise and gave it additional praise for its use of voice acting, its plot, and its backgrounds.[42][43] 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.[44]

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.[45][46] 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.[47]

Re-evaluation and infamy[edit]

Wired magazine said that the animation in both games was extremely simple and stilted and that the graphics had several glitches.[8] 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. He noted, however, that the backgrounds looked decent considering the poor design of the CD-i's hardware.[48] IGN's Peer Schneider criticized The Wand of Gamelon for not doing well to indicate when a platform begins or ends, and also said its controls were "sloppy".[37]

The games' animated cutscenes and voice acting in particular drew criticism. The Star Tribune described the voice acting as "laughable"[49] and it was also criticized by Zelda Elements as "jarring".[11] IGN described the cutscenes as "infamous" and "cheesy";[50] other reviewers described them "freakish"[1] and "an absolute joke".[30] IGN's Peer Schneider felt that the cutscenes in The Wand of Gamelon were "entertaining ... for all the wrong reasons."[37]

The games' soundtracks drew mixed responses. Zelda Elements felt it was "average" and not up to the usual Zelda quality,[20] while IGN described the soundtrack as "redbook audio CD pop."[37] However, this has been contested by other reviewers, who described it as diverse, high-quality, and superb with an adventurous upbeat tempo blending "delicous '80s synth", electric guitar, panpipes, marimbas, and other unusual instruments.[33]

Despite the largely negative reception that the games have received, there have been a few positive reviews as well. Both Danny Cowan of 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 gaming magazines that had rated and reviewed Wand of Gamelon and Faces of Evil had engaged in hate campaigns having never even played the game.[33] Their praises drew from the games' detailed, well-drawn in-game backgrounds (which was described as both Gigeresque[33] and Monet-esque)[51] and "pretty decent" gameplay,[1][20][35] although both criticized the controls.[1][35] 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".[35][52]

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.[53] Contrary to what were described as "lies perpetuated about [Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon]," Retro Gamer described the games as "astoundingly good" and rated them together as number ten in its "Perfect Ten Games" for CD-i. While acknowledging that they lacked canonicity, they were praised for exhilarating pacing and superb gameplay design.[51]


In 1994, Edge reported that both Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon had sold a "respectable number of units".[47] However, IGN claimed that sales of CD-i games (including these two) were poor and caused them to be readily available years later.[37]


IGN's Peer Schneider ranked the two games among Nintendo's biggest failures (despite the games not being made by Nintendo).[54] Electronic Gaming Monthly contributor Seanbaby ranked Zelda: Wand of Gamelon the sixth worst game of all time while GameTrailers rated it fifth worst game of all time.[55][56]

The Wand of Gamelon appeared in a bracket poll of "The Greatest Legend of Zelda Game" along with Zelda's Adventure. It lost in the first set of rounds to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.[57]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cowan, Danny (2006-04-25). "CDi: The Ugly Duckling". Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon instruction booklet. Philips Media. 
  3. ^ a b c Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil instruction booklet. Philips Media. 
  4. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Goronu Shop. Morshu: Lamp oil, rope, bombs. You want it? It's yours, my friend, as long as you have enough rubies. 
  5. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Sakado General Shop. General Shop Merchant: Course I'm on your side, but I still have to sell the stuff. Just pick what you want. I'll handle the rubies. 
  6. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. Link: Gee! It sure is boring around here. / King Harkinian: My boy, this peace is what all true warriors strive for. / Link: I just wonder what Ganon's up to. 
  7. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. Gwonam: Your Majesty, Ganon and his minions have seized the island of Koridai. / King Harkinian: Hmm. How can we help? / Gwonam: It is written: only Link can defeat Ganon. 
  8. ^ a b c Kohler, Chris (2008-03-24). "Game|Life The Video, #7: Nintendo and CD-i". Wired (magazine). Archived from the original on May 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  9. ^ a b c d Zelda Elements Staff (2008-01-01). "Overview: CDi Series". Zelda Elements. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  10. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. Link: Wow! What're all those heads?! / Gwonam: These are the Faces of Evil. You must conquer each. 
  11. ^ a b c Zelda Elements Staff (2008-01-01). "Overview: Link: The Faces of Evil". Zelda Elements. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  12. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Firestone Lake. Ganon: In the darkest nightmare hour, when not moon nor sun has risen, I take Zelda through my power. I shall keep her in my prison. 
  13. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Serigon Caves. Ice Queen: Before you face the foul fiend Ganon, you must conquer Fortress Centrum, where the Treasure of Death is hidden. Bring it to me. Begone. 
  14. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Serigon Caves. Ice Queen: This shield both sword and spear reflects, but cannot stop the vilest curse. This crystal makes the shield reflect, cursing the curser with twice the curse. 
  15. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Nortinka. Ipo the Reader: Listen. Such is the power of the Prince of Darkness that he can kill with a single look. Attacks against Ganon will prove fruitless unless Link attacks with the sacred book. 
  16. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Ganon's Lair. 
  17. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Ganon's Lair. Ganon: Join me, Link, and I will make your face the greatest in Koridai, or else you will die! 
  18. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Ganon's Lair. Ganon: No! Not into the pit! It burrrns!! 
  19. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Link: The Faces of Evil. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Ending sequence. Gwonam: Well done, Link! Ganon is once again imprisoned. Come. Look. Already Koridai is returning to harmony. The birds are singing! Isn't it beautiful? / Link: Golly! / Gwonam: As it is written, you, Link, are the hero of Koridai! / Link: I guess that's worth a kiss, huh? / Princess Zelda: Ha! / Link: I won! 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Zelda Elements Staff (2008-01-01). "Overview: Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon". Zelda Elements. Archived from the original on February 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  21. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. King Harkinian: Zelda, Duke Onkled is under attack by the evil forces of Ganon. I'm going to Gamelon to aid him. 
  22. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. King Harkinian: If you don't hear from me in a month, send Link. 
  23. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. Princess Zelda: (sighs) A whole month gone, and still no word. 
  24. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. Princess Zelda: Link, go to Gamelon and find my father. / Link: Great! I can't wait to bomb some Dodongos! 
  25. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Opening sequence. Princess Zelda: Wake up, Impa. We're going to Gamelon. / Impa: (yawning) All right, dear. I'll get the Triforce of Wisdom. 
  26. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Sakado. Impa: Oh, my. Your father has been captured! / Princess Zelda: What about Link? / Impa: He's been in a terrible fight! I can't tell what happened! 
  27. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Dodomai Palace. Spaniard: Duke Onkled betrayed the King! / Princess Zelda: I know. 
  28. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Dodomai Palace. Duke Onkled: D-Don't hurt me, Zelda! I'll tell you the secret way into Reesong Palace. / Princess Zelda: You better talk fast. / Duke Onkled: Go all the way left and move the rug. This key opens the gate. 
  29. ^ Animation Magic (1993). Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Philips CD-i. Philips Media. Level/area: Ending sequence. Duke Onkled: Please! Your omnipotence! Have mercy! / King Harkinian: After you've scrubbed all the floors in Hyrule, then we can talk about mercy! Take him away! 
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  31. ^ GameSpy Staff (2008-01-01). "Nintendo: From Hero to Zero". GameSpy. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
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  34. ^ Rodrigues, Iara, ed. "Game Plus: Multimídia - Zelda Ataca CDI". GamePower. No.16. Pg.45. October 1993.
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  36. ^ The Making of... Zelda: 'Wand of Gamelon' & 'Link: Faces of Evil' - Roots of Origin. Retro Gamer. Issue 27. p. 55. August 2006.
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