Credit to Link-LeoB for some great LoZ art.
Nintendo has been on quite the trend of rehashing old games, putting in a couple new features, and slapping a fresh title on the cover. Just look at poor Mario. The same game over and over again is put out for the WiiU with the aforementioned points used, and we’re expected to pay another $60 for it. I was very worried that A Link Between World would be the same.
Well, I can at least say that it holds its own. A Link to the Past, the SNES game that A Link Between Worlds is based on, is one of the best games ever made. Period. The gorgeous 16-bit worlds, the challenging game play, and unique aspect of travelling from the light world to the dark really made A Link to the Past fun. What Nintendo managed to do was take A Link to the Past, brush up the graphics for the 3DS, and simplify the experience.
Link’s first venture into art.
The main new feature in A Link Between Worlds is the ability to merge to walls. This allows you to slip through cracks and move along the outside of buildings to reach other areas, among other things. The whole game has an artistic theme, with people being trapped as pieces of art in frames or on walls. The merging to walls is fun, but quickly uses up your stamina meter, so you really need to know where you’re going beforehand.
There is one major, huge, massive feature in gameplay from not just A Link to the Past, but from nearly every Zelda title that A Link Between Worlds ripped up and made simply too easy: acquiring new items. Typically, you have to do some dungeon crawling, solve some puzzles that at times made you want to crack your controller in two with your bare hands, and satisfyingly throw open a treasure chest so Link may hold up his new item in triumph.
Forget all that. Now all you have to do is rent, and eventually purchase to fully own, items from an oddball in a rabbit costume. That’s it. No puzzles, no stress, no challenge.
While this does allow you to complete dungeons in whatever order you choose, it also takes away from part of what makes Zelda games, well, Zelda games. Those puzzles. There are some that give people nightmares (the Water dungeon from Ocarina of Time), but that feeling you got when you finally figured out what the heck order to pull the levers or time your moves right was spectacular. Now you simply set down a small sack of coins, pick up the item from your very own home, and move on. If you want to upgrade the items, you need to own them outright and collect strange creatures known as Maimai, but those are simply gathering quests. Not puzzles. In fact, the most challenging puzzles are probably for the silver and gold rupees scatted throughout Hyrule and Lorule.
Other than that, A Link Between Worlds is very similar to the game play from A Link to the Past. Button mash your sword attack, throw in the occasional item use, and most enemies will fall rather easily. Even the music, for the most part, is brought back from before. The dark world does offer a much greater challenge than the light world, but hearts are plentiful, and you no longer have to worry about a magic meter. That is replaced with the previously mentioned self-replenishing stamina meter, that if you want just a few seconds will fill up entirely, and you can resume use of your lantern or ice rod. The new stamina meter does apply to nearly all item use however, including your bow and boomerang, so keep an eye on it. The new quick travel is much appreciated. Simply ring your bell and a helpful witch will take you away to any previously visited weather vane. Nice. There’s also a Quick Equip feature for items, but I found it rather messy and didn’t utilize it.
The baddies themselves are nearly all the same from previous Zelda installments, so those with experience can handle those Octoroks and Stalfos rather easily. Bosses, for the most part, aren’t very challenging. If one is giving you trouble, try a different dungeon or two and add a couple hearts, then turn into a kamikaze and hack away. Seriously, I did this very strategy against the boss of the ice ruins, which I fortunately saved for last, and never had to heal once. It can be that easy.
Am I the only one who
thinks of Tamagotchi
when I see this?
The game is still a lot of fun to play, and will feel nostalgic to Zelda veterans. But it is overall an easier experience with some odd swings in difficulty from overworld monsters (the ones you encounter on the world map outside of dungeons) that are suddenly very powerful with lots of health. They’re easy to learn how to deal with, however, and most should be able to complete this game without much frustration.
Remember the sages, the master sword, the dark and light worlds, and Zelda in danger? All of that returns. Agahnim does not, however, replaced by a rather unique character in Yuga, who kidnaps the current incarnations of the seven sages as well as Princess Zelda. That’s about all you need to know plot wise, and you can pretty much figure out for yourself how the story goes. There is a twist at the end, but it’s hinted at rather strongly as the game goes on.
I did enjoy the story, but the ending wasn’t as satisfying in my own, humble opinion. The final battle with Ganon in front of the Pyramid of Power was an incredible one. This time around, it lacks a dramatic build up. In fact, I felt very confident approaching the final boss, knowing he didn’t stand a chance. It was more of a “Let’s get this over with” feeling. Sad, really, and it continues the trend of final bosses falling flat in recent games.
If you enjoy Zelda, you’ll enjoy this game. If you’ve never played Zelda, this is a great launching point due to the reduced difficulty. You won’t want to pull your hair out nearly as much, and you can pretty much go about as you please. Even the hidden sword and armor upgrades are easy to find. But the game is different enough from the predecessor it’s based off of to warrant a purchase, and again it’s enjoyable in its own right. I just can’t help wanting more from this game.