Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

A Link to the Past Review

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With the departure that Zelda II was from the original, Nintendo wasn’t going to take anymore chances as it began to release beloved franchises on its newest console, the Super NES.  Of those franchises, The Legend of Zelda was one of the first to be rehashed with A Link to the Past.  Instead of trying to create a sequel or something new, Nintendo instead took all the concepts from the original game, added a few enhancements, and made the game that captured so many hearts over again.  To be clear, A Link to the Past is not a remake, it’s just the exact formula of the original utilized in the same world with a different map, different set of dungeons, and slightly altered item list.  Think if it as a remix to the original rather than a true sequel or remake, but one that marks one of the highest points for both the console and the series itself.

a_link_to_the_past_1While the original was highly appreciated and ahead of its time, it was still bogged down by the technology that forced it into feeling much like a game.  You may have felt a connection with Link, but there was a disconnect between what you saw on the screen and what you saw re-created in cartoons and manga.  A Link to the Past, on the other hand, brings the world of that media to life.  From the moment you start the game Hyrule is a living breathing world with rain pattering down from the darkened skies, lightening flashes every now and then with an accompanying crash of thunder, and you are seemingly alone.  These aesthetic and sound-based details are just a hint of what this new title brings to the adventuresome feel of the original, and that was epic.  Simple things like destructible bushes, patrolling guards, and especially multiple level dungeons make the game more fleshed out, even realistic.  Couple that with the one big factor that the other two games were missing, a story, and A Link to the Past is truly an evolution rather than a succession.

a_link_to_the_past_2It was as if Nintendo sat down and checked boxes for everything that was missing from the other games and completed all of them.  Now there is an overworld map so you could visually distinguish the different areas you traversed instead of having to guess based on a single square in a black rectangle.  Towns, a strong addition to the sequel, now pop up here and there along the way to offer Link new side tasks and ways to get items in a sort of hybrid for the people you meet in the previous two games.  Magic was somewhat incorporated, but more for special moves, and of course the appreciated slew of special items to collect along the way are present and accounted for.  It’s not all just cloning the predecessors, because there are just as many new features as returning ones.  Dungeon puzzles use all kinds of tricks and special effects now available on the SNES and newer items like the hookshot have dynamic effects on the overall traversal of the game.  The dungeons, now with echo effects and sub-bosses also become a highlight although I can’t say enough good things about the design of each dungeon keeper (boss).  There’s also a cool light world/dark world mechanic that is reminiscent of the most popular thing from Adventures of Link, Dark Link.

a_link_to_the_past_3Much like the original, these hindsight reviews are a bit tough because it’s really one of those “play it already” types of games.  When broken down it’s merely an enhanced re-creation of the first game with a totally different layout, but I really have a hard time seeing that as anything but a good thing.  Still, it’s hard to say much about the best parts of this game without starting to spoil its most magical moments.  If you’re reading this you’ve either played and loved this game for probably decades or you just haven’t found a good reason to finally dive in.  Let me be that reason.  You can’t be a fan of the SNES era without at least giving A Link to the Past an opportunity to capture your heart.

Final Score: 5 out of 5 (review policy)

Looking for release info, value, or a guide on this game?  Check out the profile page.

Written by Fred Rojas

June 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

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