The Legend of Zelda/Version Differences
The history of The Legend of Zelda is more complicated than some games. Here are some of the major versions out there, with speed running differences highlighted. See The Cutting Room Floor for more.
Famicom Disk System
The original version was for the Famicom Disk System. It features Load times, Japanese text, a thin HUD font, and music that uses the FM synth channel of the FDS. The Pols Voice enemies can only be defeated by blowing/talking into the Controller 2 microphone.
Nintendo Entertainment System
The NES version has a number of small changes from the FDS version. It is translated to English, uses a thicker HUD font, adds enemies to a few out of the way rooms, and the Pols Voice are not killable with a microphone or arrows. The music is also simplified to deal with the missing FM channel. It also has no load times.
Note that there are two cartridge versions, known as PRG0 and PRG1. PRG1 is a little different, most notably having sound glitches.
The NES version was ported back to the Famicom. The thicker HUD font and simplified music remain, but the Japanese text returns and Pols Voice are no longer killable with arrows. The load times are still gone. However this version also added some fixes and optimizations to the engine. Lag times are cut in half. They fixed the glitch causing extra cloud time at the Blue Ring shop.
Game Boy Advance
Because of the smaller screen (240x160 vs the NES' 256x240), the screen is scaled down, which may pose a problem for screen scrolling and especially block clipping. Horizontally, the screen is cropped such that 8 pixels are dropped from each of the left and right edges of the screen, but the image is otherwise unscaled in this dimension. As a result, screen scrolling should be mostly unaffected, but may require a new reference point because Link will be partially offscreen. Vertically, the image is squished, which may pose a problem for block clipping and probably more so for ladder clipping. Sprites and backgrounds are scaled differently (sprites are proportionally larger) because sprites tend to be less resilient to losing scanlines than backgrounds are. As a result, vertical clips may require very different reference points, and may have inconsistencies depending on how the sprite/background scaling lines up (though this hasn't been thoroughly researched).
Beyond this, version differences are yet to be documented.
Japanese Wii Virtual Console
The Japanese Wii VC version is based on the FDS version, only with much shorter load times. The microphone is simulated with the right joystick on the Classic Controller.
The emulation runs at a slightly different framerate, though. It's slightly slower because it runs at 60.002 frames per second, instead of the NES/Famicom's 60.098.
US Wii Virtual Console
The US Wii VC is based on the US NES release, and runs at the same framerate as the Japanese VC version, so is slightly slower than the US NES version.
Gamecube (Japan and US)
I *think* these are the same as the Wii VC versions, but I'm not sure. I've never had them.
Text Differences / Timing Conversion
Here are the scripts with character counts in the Japanese Famiom and US NES versions. Note that any 'missing spaces' are intentional because line breaks are skipped over instantly, unlike spaces.
ヒトリデハキケンジャコレヲ サズケヨウ 19 スキナ ホウヲサズケヨウ 12 ミンナニ ナイショダヨ 11 ナンカコウテクレヤ 9 スキナ ホウヲサズケヨウ 12 ミンナニ ナイショダヨ 11 スキナ ホウヲサズケヨウ 12 コレハネウチモノデッセ 11 ナンカコウテクレヤ 9 ブツ ブツ 。。。。 10 ツカイコナセルナラコレヲ サズケヨウ 18 トナリノヘヤヘ ユケ 10 IT’S DANGEROUS TO GOALONE! TAKE THIS. 37 TAKE ANY ONE YOU WANT. 22 IT’S A SECRETTO EVERYBODY. 26 BUY SOMETHIN’ WILL YA! 22 TAKE ANY ONE YOU WANT. 22 IT’S A SECRETTO EVERYBODY. 26 TAKE ANY ONE YOU WANT. 22 BOY, THIS ISREALLY EXPENSIVE! 29 BUY SOMETHIN’ WILL YA! 22 GRUMBLE,GRUMBLE。。。 18 MASTER USING IT ANDYOU CAN HAVE THIS. 37 GO TO THE NEXT ROOM. 20
Back before we knew about lag differences, converting times seemed like it made sense. How we did it, for reference:
Each character is shown for 6 frames. As a result, at 60.098 FPS, the Famicom version is 20.67 seconds faster in the Any% Deathless route than the NES version on the old Darkwing WR route, and 19.67 on the new world wrap WR route. That difference is due to one fewer "TAKE ANY ONE YOU WANT" cave.