The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Review

Posted: January 8, 2014 in Game reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Greetings mortals, I am DracoJames102 and a Happy New Year to all of you.

Before I begin my review, I just want to apologize for being absent over the Christmas holiday. I’ve been resting from doing tons of university work and wanted to enjoy the holidays so much that I got caught up from playing the latest games and all that jazz. I just want you guys to know that I do want to keep writing reviews for you guys but I want you to understand that I do have other priorities and I don’t have a daily schedule for releasing reviews. They come out when they come out. So I hope the next few reviews I release will make up for it. I hope you all accept my words of apology and explanation, so now let’s get on with the review I promised to do before last year ended. This is my review of ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’ that was released in 1992 for the ‘SNES’ (Super Nintendo Entertainment System).

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Since I properly got into the ‘Zelda’ franchise too late, I only heard about ‘Link to the Past’ through word of mouth. Once I was on my Wii virtual console high after playing ‘Super Mario World’ and ‘Super Metroid’, I instantly tried my hand at ‘Link to the Past’ after buying a second E-Shop card. Do I declare this game to be as good as a game that I have played throughout my childhood and a game that I have started playing only a couple of years ago and yet I now consider it as one of my all-time favourite video games? Let’s find out.

Story

The story of the game actually takes place before the first game in the ‘Zelda’ franchise. I won’t go into how confusing the timeline for ‘The Legend of Zelda’ is because everyone else has already done that. This means that we are focusing on a past generation of Link, Zelda and Hyrule. If you leave the title screen running long enough, you get some background of the game’s story. Long ago there existed a golden land called the Sacred Realm where all three pieces of the Triforce were being held, which grants all of the wishes of whoever touches them to come true. Naturally this causes a war were everybody wanted to use the Triforce’s power for their own personal gains. So to end this war and destruction, seven wise men used their powers to seal away the path to the Golden Land and the Triforce, never to be seen or heard from again.

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Years later, an evil wizard named Agahnim managed to gain the trust of the king of Hyrule and then killed him when he had the chance. And by killed him I mean he incinerated his body until there was nothing but a skeleton left (Damn that’s gruesome). After the king died, Agahnim managed to gain control over Hyrule’s soldiers and started seven maidens, who are descendants of the original seven sages, to open the pathway to the Golden Land. One of these seven maidens is Princess Zelda herself. In the middle of the night, Zelda manages to telepathically contact Link in his sleep and asks him for his help. After Link rescues Zelda from the castle, she explains to him that he will need three pendants to gain the Master Sword, the blade of evil’s bane, to finish off Agahnim once and for all.

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The story of this game is more involved than the last two games and it is pretty good overall. True it isn’t really that complex but I think it is still good. There’s nothing that I can call bad or doesn’t make sense and the presentation from the character sprite animations and the text box styled dialogue managed to come through pretty nicely.

Gameplay

Since we are now on the ‘SNES’, the controls allow for more buttons to work with. Like the first ‘Zelda’ game, the game is an adventure game with an overhead view. The D-Pad allows Link to move in all eight directions, the B button allows Link to attack with the sword, the A button allows Link to pick up and throw objects as well as use the Pegasus boots when you get them, the Y button allows Link to use the secondary item in your item box and the X button brings up an extremely beautiful and well detailed map of Hyrule (about time too if you ask me). The Start button takes you to the item menu where you can equip one of the many items you can get in this game to the secondary item box I mentioned and the Select button allows you to save your progress. The HUD contains your health meter which is measured by how many hearts you have, your rupee count, a bomb count, an arrow count, a magic meter and your secondary item box.

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Hyrule is a lot bigger and more detailed than the last games. Not only do you have a map of the entire land now, it has many memorable distinguishable set pieces so you can remember where you are. From Kakariko Village to the Witch shop that sells potions, everything in this game manages to stick out from one another and as such it is very hard to get lost in this game. If that wasn’t enough, people will actually mark plot important locations that you need to go to on your map and they will give you hints and tips that are coherent enough to understand. There’s even a fortune teller that can tell you your next destination if you do end up getting lost at the cost of some pocket change.

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The items from the first game are back such as bombs, bow and arrows and the boomerang, but this game introduces so many new items, some of which have become staples in the franchise. There are the ice and fire rods, the bottles which you can use to contain your potions which heal your health and magic meters, a hook-shot which you can use to stun enemies and cross large distances, the Ether, Quake and Bombos spells that you can acquire after you obtain the Master Sword which act as screen nukes and a butterfly net which you can use to catch faeries (they’re spelt that way in Hyrule) and put them in bottles so that if you die and get a game over, the faeries will automatically revive you from death. There are so many more items to talk about but I’ll explain along the way.

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The new map system manages to please the audience who want a stream-lined adventure. But to those who want to explore the world and discover secrets, the game does an excellent job in rewarding you with goodies if you search hard enough and use your head to discover how to gain them. You can get tons of rupees, find secret places that have faeries that you can capture or fully heal you, secret items such as a flute that you can use to call a bird so you can get around Hyrule much quicker, and you can find heart pieces. Heart pieces are a new way of obtaining extra heart containers like in the first game. If you collect four heart pieces, you gain add an extra heart container for your meter.

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The dungeons from the first game are back in full force and contain new enemies and puzzles for you to conquer. You need to acquire keys that allow you to open locked doors and you need to find the Big Key to unlock the big chest which contains a dungeon item such as the bow or a hook-shot or upgrades to your armour and finally make your way towards the boss at the end of the dungeon. The boss battles are a lot more epic compared to the boss battles in the last game and they are a lot of fun to fight against. However if there has to be one boss I absolutely hate, it’s the caterpillar at the end of the third dungeon. You fight the boss on a levitating platform and you have to strike the ball at the end of its tail in order to damage it. If you hit any other part of its body, you bounce back and if you fall off the edge, you have to climb back up the stairs from the floor you landed on and restart the fight with the boss’s health fully restored.

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Once you have obtained the three pendants from the dungeons, you can go to the Lost Woods and obtain the Master Sword to finish off Agahnim. However straight after you do so, Zelda will telepathically say that Agahnim has found her at the Sanctuary and has taken her back to the castle. Once you journey through the castle, Agahnim sends Zelda to the Golden Land and challenges you to fight him. Once you have beaten him, Agahnim sends Link to the Golden Land, which has now become the Dark World. If you thought the game was over at this point, may I just say that you are dead wrong. Earlier in the game you are given a Magic Mirror from an old man which allows you to warp from the Dark World to the Light World, which is required to solve puzzles to move on and to unlock and find secrets that you otherwise couldn’t get in the Light World. You also need a Moon Pearl (which you get in the third palace) which allows you to retain your human form in the Dark World, otherwise you are stuck as a defenceless rabbit. Your quest in the Dark World is to travel through seven dungeons to rescue the seven maidens that were sent there by Agahnim himself. Luckily they are all marked on your map and you can tackle these dungeons in any order you desire. You do still have to complete the first dungeon no matter what and there are some cases where you need one of the items you need to get in one dungeon in order to progress in another dungeon, but it offers better non-linearity than the previous Zelda games.

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The enemies in the Dark World can hit a lot harder and require more hits to kill,  but they aren’t too difficult with a few exceptions. For example, the Wallmasters you encounter in the forest dungeon are relentless. They don’t damage you, but if they grab you they carry you back to the beginning of the dungeon which is even more annoying. The bosses also hit really hard and if you die, you are sent back to the beginning of the dungeon, which I appreciate but I recommend stocking up on potions and faeries.

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The Dark World dungeons are difficult but they offer just the right amount of challenge and they are very well designed. However if you want my opinion on what’s the worst dungeon in the game, the Ice dungeon is my first pick. There are ice physics that can lead you to losing a heart, there are spikes everywhere which really hurt, it has so many floors and the less I say about the stupid block puzzle to open the door to the boss the better. I know I could have used the Cane of Somaria from the Swamp dungeon to magically materialize a block to make it easier for myself, but for this review I wanted to moan and groan about how stupidly long this puzzle took to complete. Seriously get the Cane of Somaria for this, PLEASE!!!

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Graphics

For a 16-bit game, this game looks gorgeous. In fact they still look beautiful today. The bright vibrant colours are a sight to see, the sprite work is top-notch and the attention to detail when it comes to the presentation is great.

Music

This game’s soundtrack is amazing. The dungeon themes manage to be foreboding and creepy, Hyrule’s theme is awesome and the Kakariko village is nice and relaxing (even though it disappears in the second half of the game but you can still listen to it in your house). This might just be my favourite soundtrack in the entire series, but I have yet to play and finish other Zelda games. But for now I declare this soundtrack is the best. Give it a listen whenever you get the chance.

Control

The way Link handles in this game is a massive improvement over the last two games. Allowing to move in all eight directions allow for much smoother handling, swinging your sword rather than just stabbing enemies like in the first game provides better coverage and range and all of the items you use do not have any delay or suck in any way. So yeah the control is awesome.

Final thoughts

After taking a deeper look at the first two ‘Zelda’ games, it feels fantastic returning to this game and seeing what it managed to fix, improve and upgrade the franchise altogether. The combat is more fun, the upgrades are awesome to use, Hyrule is much better designed than in the last games and it is extremely first-timer friendly. I will say that while I do love playing this game, I wouldn’t pick it up and play it all of the time as much as I do with ‘Super Mario World’, ‘Super Metroid’ and ‘Mega Man X’, but that’s just me though. This doesn’t stop me from really appreciating what this game managed to do for not only the ‘Zelda’ franchise, but for video games in general. In my opinion, this is the best ‘Zelda’ game I have played so far and I definitely recommend picking it up and trying it out for yourself whether it’s for the SNES, Game Boy Advance or the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console.

Final rating: 9/10

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