I totally caved and looked up the overworld map on GameFAQs. (Picking up some heart containers and that wonderful blue ring is my way of tempering the crazy difficulty a bit.) Y'know, back in the day I would've loved wandering around for days bombing random walls, or taking hours to learn how to beat just one boss, but as an adult I have little time/patience for it. I suppose this makes me part of the problem. I want games that will take a long time to beat but still allow me to make swift progress through. I hate getting stuck too long on any one part, and if I ever have to replay a section I already beat once, then it's a travesty of the highest order.
It's still insanely fascinating playing through Zelda 1, though. It's weird that certain incidental enemies or certain dungeon rooms can provide such a challenge and the threat of a game over. (I'm probably halfway through, and 23 deaths and counting.) Even stuff like the complete lack of ceremony surrounding bosses and dungeon items is disconcerting. If anything, finally playing this makes me appreciate LttP all the more. I can easily imagine you guys who played the NES Zeldas as kids, popping LttP into the SNES for the first time and thinking, "Now THIS is what they were trying to do." As opposed to me as a kid, being new to the series, merely thinking, "This game is awesome."