Published on November 29th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
This year we’ve seen a lot of remakes and reboots, as a new generation of gamers become acquainted with old series, companies are attempting to revisit and revive old franchises like Double Dragon Neon, spice them up like Devil May Cry’s DMC, or simply just remake them like the download title Duck Tales. Some of these have been alright or even good, but most, like Turtles in Time are just flat out terrible. It’s so easy to get it wrong, and we’ve been let down often, so when Nintendo announced a new Zelda game on the 3DS that would be an homage to Link to the Past on the SNES, despite the clout of Zelda, this didn’t come without a small amount of despair. Well, even if it’s merely a clone, it won’t be bad just rather samey is all. I’ve never been more glad to be wrong.
Following the same approach as Link to The Past, the camera is top down and at a slight slant which presumably gives a better 3D effect when turned on, the Link from this game appears to be based on the previous, with longer, darker hair (no pink hair unfortunately) and the same styled clothes, the art style is more chibi and the character looks younger and more happy-go-lucky. The colour scheme and style for the assets are all very similar, it’s a real nostalgia trip.
The gameplay also replicates its predecessor, the analogue stick works surprisingly well with the 8-directional manoeuvring, however moments involving dashes can become rather frustrating when under time limits, which isn’t often. The addition of merging into walls gives more fun puzzles and doesn’t become stale in the game. Like previous titles there are a few easier, shorter dungeons before throwing you at the main ones, however, unlike any previous instalment, this is the first game to implement a rental system with the aim of sequence breaking in mind. Instead of the equipment that is gained at the end of each dungeon, they are all available early on in the game for you to rent from your acquired squatter, Ravio.
At first the game feels like Link to the Past with some more story injected into it, the music like the overworld them is just a basic updated version and some of the sound effects are the same, however after the first dungeon the overall design shows there is a little bit of spice to it, but it’s not until you have acquired the Master Sword that it truly begins to shine. The dungeons become much more satisfyingly complex without being too long, and each have their own elemental themes which make use of a piece of equipment, as well as make the dungeons look more colourful and beautiful than ever. The whole world has new and interesting puzzles in and sidequests so that everywhere you go you are not bored, as you could be finding the usual heart-pieces, collecting rupees to rent or buy the equipment or doing the Maiamai sidequest, in which you explore and collect chirping creatures dotted around the world map and for every ten there is an upgrade to a piece of equipment you own.
There is an emphasis on customisation prevalent, so that the game can be played in the order you want with the equipment you want for the most part. Every playthrough could be something fairly different depending what order you play through the dungeons acquiring different helpful items, however the game is so addictive and fun to explore that you will probably be too engrossed not to do pretty much everything.
The music incorporates the main pieces from Link to the Past but every dungeon and new character has new music, all of which are just as catchy and charming as the earlier pieces and no singular piece doesn’t fit in well with the tone of the game. There are some particularly catchy pieces like the Maiamai cave song, and like with the other features of the game, some of the music has slight changes and adaptations depending on different scenarios in the game, making it more epic or in the Maiamai music’s case, more hilarious.
The difficulty of the game is about the level of Wind Waker, it’s rather easy, I suppose that because the dungeons can be done in any order, they all had to be the same difficulty level, this isn’t as big a deal, as there is a Hero Mode that you can unlock after completing the game, where enemies are much more difficult and no longer drop hearts, meaning you would have to rely on potions.
There are very few problems with the game, a sidequest tournament doesn’t heal you before you go in and that was pretty annoying I suppose… the camera made it difficult to see some things on the wall if north-facing, but these are very minor personal problems with new additions to the game.
This is a game that ticks all the boxes, it has fun combat with enough new things to learn and different enemies that need to be defeated with different tactics that the fighting never becomes dull. The exploration is richly rewarded and the dungeons are good brain candy and only suffer from being slightly too short. The visuals are astounding, maintaining cuteness while staying true to an older Zelda look. The story stands on its own, and has nothing to do with Link to the Past, nor can I find any tangible link to its place in the Zelda universe. Overall the game feels like Link’s Awakening meets Link to the Past.
If you’re new to the series this a great place to start, without holding your hand it is simple to get into and not too taxing or slow-paced, but older fans will love the reminiscent style and gameplay throughout while also being able to explore a completely new experience and in ways, a much improved game from it’s ancestor, evoking similar excitement while also offering a much deeper and complex story and characters. A Link Between Worlds is a valid and essential addition to a stellar series and has as much heart as it ever has.