Translating the Legend of Zelda video games to a tabletop D&D RPG has, thus far, been an interesting thought experiment. There are numerous conventions within the video game series that strain credulity within a D&D context. Here are a couple examples I am contending with as I build "my" Hyrule.
Artificial barriers in the maps. In the NES Legend of Zelda, bushes and rocks were often used to block Link's progress or separate parts of the map. Obviously, these types of barriers make little sense in D&D, as clever players can easily get around them. These include the common convention, ever since Link to the Past, of requiring certain items to open up new parts of the map, such as the mallet or the power bracelet.
Bottles. Why are there only three or four bottles Link can use to carry things in, but endless supplies of ceramic jars to break? Why can't Link just buy a simple glass bottle in a store?
Obviously, these things serve a certain purpose within the video games that are probably unnecessary in a table-top game. The trick is identifying which tropes exist purely as a limiting factor in-game, and twist them in such a way that they still serve a purpose in the table-top world and are fun and rewarding for the players to find.
One of the coolest things about the original NES Legend of Zelda was that a clever player could get all the way to the final battle with Ganon without ever getting a sword. You weren't funnelled along from Dungeon A to B to C. You could go take on several different dungeons, right from the beginning, if you could find them. Very little was blocked off, in the sense that it required an item key of some sort to access. That alone speaks volumes about how much the original game relied on player exploration, skill and ingenuity. I don't want to force my players along a certain, predetermined path to get to the end. I want to give them a world to explore, secrets to uncover, problems to solve, and great rewards for doing so.
Tomorrow: Character Generation
Friday: Monster theory and samples