I should clarify that this is woefully incomplete not because I can’t remember any more of the map but because for some fool reason I convinced myself I could do the whole map basically screen-perfect from memory and then found out in the trying that that was a ridiculous, demoralizing thing to attempt.
And so these drawings, across three sheets of paper (measured out carefully to 16*8 screen proportions on the graph paper but pasted together not-to-scale here in order to make the emptiness a bit less sprawling), stop the moment I was Not Quite Sure about how a screen broke across to the adjacent one. Or in a couple cases, a screen too late — I’m certain that on the left end of the central section I divvied up the screen real estate wrong. And I knew it as I was doing it. And so I stopped.
I’ve been meaning to come back to this one for weeks and weeks now, and I keep not quite having the will to make myself crazy on it again. I know ninety percent of the remaining map reasonably well, but not well enough to glue it all together without a reference like this. It’s a maddening little feat — and defeat — of memory, the way individual screens come to mind without effort but slotting them into one precise puzzle of map with a ballpoint pen just doesn’t happen. How uncertainty over where the tiles of the map went moving from screen A to screen B blossoms into a kind of mind-melting circle of doubt.
Because, the thing is, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Zelda map.
Not just as a kid, though to be sure I spent a great deal of time with it, it was one of my early NES loves and I’d scoured most of the map in great detail, burning every bush, bombing every rock wall, memorizing the locations of the heart container.
But more recently, even, less than two years ago, I spent days building Hyrule’s overworld from scratch in Minecraft from reference maps. I felt after that like I had the map tattooed in my mind, indelible, unforgettable.
And yet, here we are. Memory fades.