The Legend of Zelda Clock

This is a cool but sad story of a classic game and how it became a permanent keepsake in my collection as well as my life long memory.    One of my favorite games of all time is original The Legend of Zelda for the NES.   I remember when it first came out and I waited in line early to get the special edition gold plated cartridge.  Back then getting something like that was the talk of the town.  It was more expensive, harder to find and looked cooler than the ordinal grey version everyone else had.  The year was 1987 and it was a great year for Nintendo.   Super Mario Bros. , Mike Tyson Punch-out, Castlevania to name a few.   But the Legend of Zelda was different, it was way ahead of its time and the adventure that was perfect for the NES and kids of that generation.   I waited over 3 hours in line to get my hands on the gold cartridge and was excited to play and show my friends.   It was the first vivid memory I have of playing a console game consistently for hours on end without getting bored or stopping.  The game taught me adventure, secrets, strategy and battles that is used today in today’s video gaming world.  Needless to say , I played this game more than any other game I may have played in my life.    I have kept the original 1987 Gold cartridge with for my whole childhood and adult life.   It was one of the only original games I kept over the years.   The rest of my over 3200 console games have been re-found and purchased at thrift stores, conventions, craigslist, and other social events.  The Legend of Zelda was a piece of history that stayed with me forever.   Until 2010 when the game I have had for almost 23 years without any damage or scratches was altered forever.

In 2010 my video game collection was beginning to grow tremendously.   I think I was at almost 1000 games by then and I was proud of my collection.   Atari, NES, Genesis, PlayStation,  XBOX as well as dozens of other systems and hundreds of games.  MY birthday was coming up in October and my wife saw an awesome clock that someone on the internet made out of a NES cartridge.   He was selling this item online and my wife thought it would be an awesome gift.   However, since it was unique and one of a kind for the user online, the price was extremely high for an item like that.  Plus, she wasn’t sure I liked the game that he was displaying.   My wife Erin had a great idea of building the clock herself out of one of my game in my collection.   This way it would be more sentimental and a game that I liked since I had it in my collection.

The steps involved in making a NES clock were not that complex, however it did involve some parts and some construction of the cartridge to make it work.    With the help of her father, they began the quest in making the clock for my birthday.  The first step is to get the mechanism to work the second and minute hands which can be found at Michaels or other craft stores.  The next step is to remove the game board that is inside the cartridge so you don’t damage it and you can use it again one day.   The last step is drill a hole into the cartridge to get the….     NO way!!   Yes.   I said you need to drill a hole into the cartridge.    Without knowing the history of the game to me and the significance of that game in my life and collection, she went ahead and drilled into the game and began the journey of making the NES Legend of Zelda Gold cartridge clock.    Coincidentally,  because my collection was so big and I didn’t play my NES that month.   I did not realize that in the weeks to come, my Zelda game was missing.

October 18, 2010.  Birthday time.  The excitement of getting possible new games or t-shirts or anything game related was on my mind and having my family with me to celebrate made it a special day.  Soon I would find out that it would be a VERY special day with laughter and a memory that will last forever.   I opened my gifts as I saw them, but my wife told me to save the special gift for the end.   So after opening my gifts of games, t-shirts and other fun gaming items, it was time to open the very special gift my wife was very excited to give me.  I slowly opened the gift and realized it was in a ordinary store box.   My wife is famous for r boxing up gifts in different boxes so you are more surprised when you first see the box.   I knew that the box I saw was not the gift inside, so I was anxious to see what it is.    I opened the box and pulled out a NES cartridge which was at first glance the only game I could recognize right away, The Legend of Zelda.    I turned the game around and saw it was a clock.   It was so cool!!   I could not believe she found such an item and I was in possession of it.  I asked where she got it and she told me she made it herself.   OH!  Very cool.   Ummm.  Cool.  Where did you find the cartridge.    Gulp. .   She told me that she found it in the garage.    Surprise!!!     OH WOW!   Yes.  Ummm , it is the coolest,  umm..   sweet.   Wait!! The garage.   This was my game?   Being the cool awesome husband I am I smiled and said it was the coolest thing I have ever seen.    But then the other side of me said, holy crap ,  the original NES Gold Cartridge I have had for 20 something years has been reconstructed.   Mixed emotions hit me as it was so cool to have, but I had so many questions.  Where is the game inside?   How did you attach the clock hands?   Will it still play one day?   Can we put it back the way it was?   Now I was smart to know that in the world today I can easily find another Gold Zelda cartridge at a convention or Ebay or whatever, but the idea that kept it for so long and it great condition and it was now a clock was an eye opener. 

In retrospect, looking back I am so happy my wife made this momentous item that today I still have and use on my desk at work.   It has only needed to be replaced once with new hands but it works like a charm.   And as you have read, it makes a great story that will last forever.   Oh, yes, I did get another cope of Zelda.  And the original Game board inside is now inside a Super Mario Bros cartridge, which is cool in itself.    Happy Holidays!!!



Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (396 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.