Fans of Nintendo’s highly-acclaimed Legend of Zelda series have clamored for a remake of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that was released for Super Nintendo in 1991 for over 20 years now, and they’ve done us all one better with the recent release of the titles sequel, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Between staying true to it’s Super Nintendo roots and taking full advantage of newer features that the Nintendo 3DS offers, A Link Between Worlds might just be the best handheld Zelda game to date.
Everyone that’s ever played A Link to the Past will agree that this game has the same control feel and overall mechanics that they’ve all come to expect from a “top-down” Zelda experience. The dungeons and overworld are heavily borrowed from it’s prequel title, and to exceeding expectations. The game adds a “Merge” capability that allows Link to turn into a painting and move along surfaces to reach places that would otherwise be unable to be traversed, a mainstay ability that is earned early in the game and is important through the entirety of the game, adding extra depth to solving puzzles and finding secrets in the game.
One large feature that’s been added to change the gameplay of the game is the new ability to challenge the dungeons in any order, barring a couple of restrictions. Very early in your quest you meet a travelling merchant named Ravio that will “rent” out items and equipment to Link for Rupees, the currency in the Legend of Zelda games. These items range from classics from A Link to the Past such as the Bow and the Hookshot. Certain dungeons require certain equipment to be used to enter/complete the dungeons puzzles, but these items can be rented and used in any order, allowing for item collection like the ever-present heart pieces and bottles that are found in all Zelda games. The only stipulation is that once Link falls in battle, the items will be returned to Ravio, requiring you to once again rent the item. No need to be concerned, you can purchase these items eventually and they’ll permanently stay in your inventory, making collecting Rupees a very important aspect of the game. The majority of dungeons still offer the usual “dungeon item” that you are required to obtain to finish the dungeon and aid in overcoming the dungeons end boss. Don’t allow this to cause you apprehension, the ability to challenge dungeons in any order is much more streamlined and interesting than it is cause for concern, and this is coming from a Zelda veteran that wasn’t comfortable with the idea at first. Nintendo does a great job at giving the large kingdoms of Hyrule and Lorule a truly open-world approach that is a welcomed feature of A Link Between Worlds.
A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to the Super Nintendo title A Link to the Past, which the prior games events happening many years prior to sequel, featuring a new Hero. A Link Between Worlds features our de facto hero Link, who is a blacksmiths apprentice, but quickly gets embroiled in the strange occurrence happening around the land of Hyrule. Strange paintings of soldiers have been appearing around the walls of Hyrule castle, with Link investigating to eventually find out that a mysterious wizard named Yuga is turning all the descendants of the Seven Sages, an important group of protectors of the Triforce, into paintings. Upon consultation of elders Sahasrahla and Impa, characters that no-doubt Zelda fans will recognize, surmise that this wizard must be gathering the Sages to break the seal their ancestors had constructed to keep the Evil Demon King Ganon from rising once again. Urged by Princess Zelda, our hero Link faces and battles the evil wizard Yuga around Hyrule, being turned into a painting himself. The mysterious travelling merchant Ravio had given Link an old bracelet that so happens to be able to reverse the effects of becoming a painting, allowing Link to control the ability to merge in and out of flat surfaces. He is eventually led through a mysterious fissure to the land of Lorule, a parallel world to Hyrule that is reminiscent of the Dark World from A Link to the Past, with many sections and areas of Lorule having corresponding areas in Hyrule. How will questing after Yuga in the dark land of Lorule turn out for Link, and what characters will Link meet?
Nintendo has done a fantastic job with bringing back the original feel of A Link to the Past and it’s unique Dark World mirror-aspect to the game with introducing Lorule. While it’s got it’s differences that make the games unique, it’s a welcome feature that adds more depth and important characters to the plot than the original Dark World did in A Link to the Past.
Fans of A Link to the Past will definitely experience nostalgia on end for the sound effects and remastered tracks that are found in A Link Between Worlds. With the classic sound effects and the Dark World Overworld theme coming back as Lorule Overworlds theme from A Link to the Past, the sound design is amazing. An extra feature they placed in the game that warmed my heart was the bard duet in the Milk Bar in Kakariko Village, who will play acoustic renditions of songs from older titles for a mere 10 Rupees per song. Any fan of Zelda music will likely laud A Link Between Worlds soundtrack for the future of the Zelda saga.
With the addition of 3D with Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, the graphics in A Link Between Worlds is one of that largest separating factors from it’s prequel title. Even with a top-down perspective, the merge ability allows us to see a whole new aspect of Hyrule we weren’t able to see in the previous title, making for exceptional leaps and bounds in what we were never able to do before . The 3D is sharp, and doesn’t suffer much ghosting effects that some other 3DS titles have had in the past. With the recent release of the Nintendo 2DS, which is a less expensive variety of the 3DS that doesn’t feature a three dimensional screen, you won’t lose much feel for the clear and bright colorful world of Hyrule and Lorule. Seeing the old concept of Link and other characters reinvigorated in 3D is something we haven’t seen till now, and breathes new life into the designs of Legend of Zelda from over 20 years ago.
Nintendo’s most recent offering of A Link Between Worlds is one of the finest entries into the series, and is leveraged by its fantastic additions and changes to the original formula fans adored. A definite must for any fan of the franchise, especially if A Link to the Past was one of your favorite games from your childhood.