Last Level Press

Review: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

It has always been my intention that if I were to review a Legend of Zelda game, the first one would be The Wind Waker; not because it was my first or the best, but because it’s my absolute favorite in the series, and sharing that love would mean a lot to me because Zelda has, in a funny way, always been in my life. The original for the NES is my mom’s favorite game, and she played it while she was pregnant with me; the first SNES games I remember watching my oldest cousin play were Chrono Trigger and A Link to the Past; I had a friend who had Link’s Awakening for the GameBoy, another who had Oracle of Ages, and the first Zelda I ever played was Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. However, I’ve had to change things because A Link Between Worlds happened, and I want to share why this is the best game in the series to have been made in a long time.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the sequel to the SNES game, A Link to the Past, and takes place in a time when the events of the first game have become a legend in their own right. After the evil Ganon’s plans to conquer Hyrule and steal the Triforce, a powerful golden relic of the goddesses capable of granting any wish, was locked away by the Seven Sages and the mighty hero who wielded the Master Sword, peace reigned once again as the Triforce was split into three pieces so that no one could use its power. However, a strange man named Yuga has been traveling across Hyrule and turning the descendants of the Seven Sages into paintings, and intends to use them to release Ganon and gain his part of the Triforce, the Triforce of Power. It is up to Link, the apprentice of a blacksmith, to go and save his kingdom, lest dark forces engulf the land. However, there is more than just his world on the line.

A Link Between Worlds is like any Zelda should be: an amazing game to look at. If you have played A Link to the Past, you know this Hyrule because aside from a few changes and the update from 16-bit graphics to beautiful 3D models, you are still in the same kingdom: your house is even in the very same location as it was in the prequel.

If this image doesn’t fill you with giddy nostalgia, I’m not sure we

can be friends.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo initially wanted this game to be a graphically updated version of A Link to the Past, but they didn’t go that route, and I’m glad because they did what any good sequel, or even any good remake for that matter, should do: keep the feeling of the original, but improve upon it to make it better. It’s not even just Hyrule, but its counterpart of Lorule that makes the real change.  Nintendo could have simply made Lorule an updated version of Dark World from A Link to the Past, but instead made it into a bleak and ruined kingdom overrun with foul beasts and darkness, a land that had a history with regular people, that was drastically different from what the Dark World was. Both of these worlds are never boring, never bland, and never make you feel like any area is empty or wasted.

The music in this game is probably some of my favorite. Yes, it is just revamped and updated versions of a lot of the music from A Link to the Past, but it also is remixed too. For example, the first overworld theme is heavy on guitar strumming while the iconic notes of the overworld theme is played on a violin, and sounds more like something to get you awake and out of bed, but changes on to the much more familiar Hyrule Field theme, a theme for scaling mountains, fighting evil monsters, and swimming through water filled with enemies as you go on your quest to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule. That’s not say there’s no original music made for this game, but if you enjoyed the music from A Link to the Past then just imagine many of those tracks remade using today’s technology. As for voice acting, the series continues to hold steadfast to its tradition of not having voice work for any of the characters or enemies outside of grunts and yells. However, with such nice music why would you ruin it with subpar voices?

What truly separates this game from being a vague A Link to the Past remake is its mechanics. The controls are simple enough to understand, but stay within eight-way directions rather than giving you full circular control: you’re gonna go  in a straight line whether it’s vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. There is also the big selling point of becoming a painting, merging with walls to move around. While much of the game is seen from a top-down perspective like the old 2D Zeldas were, merging with the walls allows for unique puzzles in every dungeon you enter, serving a major use throughout the entire game and, quite frankly, it is pretty damn fun.

“...your rampant graffiti spree is not.  Guards, to the dungeon

with him!”

However, the biggest difference of all is that all of Link’s items are given to you at the beginning of the game, and this was one of my biggest concerns because there’s a real joy in going through a dungeon and finding that one tool that allows you to do that thing you saw but couldn’t do before. That was assuaged when I actually played with this, and I absolutely loved it. With having all of the items you’ll need ready at your disposal you’re allowed a freedom that I haven’t felt since The Wind Waker, and truly hasn’t been seen in this way since the original game where, if you were savvy enough, you could travel to the dungeon you wanted and get that item you liked. You can either rent the items for a small fee and keep it until you get a game over, or you could spend a hefty sum to buy it and use it forever. However, Rupees are easy to come by and you’re not limited at all in how many you can get in the beginning: you could feasibly obtain 9999 Rupees before you even obtained the Master Sword if you had the patience to do so.

You can also become the undisputed pot-smashing champion of the world.  

Y’know, in case there was any question of that before.

I made mention of how I felt like I had a freedom I haven’t felt since I played Wind Waker, and quite honestly that’s true. Hyrule and Lorule both feel like worlds that are full of secrets, each screen filled with things to find and things to do. If you felt that Twilight Princess was too linear in spite of its massive size or that Skyward Sword held your hand far too much in what you had to do, A Link Between Worlds essentially gives you the ability to go in any order you want and do whatever you want with the dungeons; you have a broad to-do list, and you just check things off as you go.

As wonderful and fun I found this game to be, my biggest complaint is that it’s short…for a single playthrough. Even after clearing every dungeon of every chest, completing a side-quest that has you traveling Hyrule and Lorule to find baby Maiamais (think octopus crossed with hermit crab but cute), and finding nearly every Heart Piece in the game, I still beat the game in about 25 hours. Beating the game unlocks Hero Mode, where the game becomes harder and essentially doubles the playtime, which makes the amount of time invested well worth it. Even if you don’t replay on Hero Mode, it’s still an amazing experience. If you haven’t played a Zelda game in years, this is what you need to pick up. If you have never played a Zelda game before, I honestly recommend this, because it’s the closest you might get to playing an updated version of the game that influenced the fan favorite that is Ocarina of Time and, in turn, the entire series. I have to admit I am hesitant to say if this is worth buying a 3DS, but if you’ve been holding out precisely for this moment, take the plunge and have fun! All in all, this is a solid game that strikes a good chord between old and new.

Rating: 9.0

Visuals: 9
Audio: 8
Controls & Mechanics: 9
Atmosphere & Experience: 10
Entertainment Value: 9

  Consoles: Nintendo 3DS

  Developer: Nintendo, Monolith

  Publisher: Nintendo

  Release Date (U.S.): Nov 22, 2013

  Release Date (U.K.): Nov 22, 2013

  Release Date (JP): Dec 26, 2013

Final Verdict:


Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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