On November 22nd, 2013, I walked into Target as it opened to purchase Nintendo’s latest installment in The Legend of Zelda series. I have been playing Zelda games for over 20 years and have beaten most of them, at least once, so I have a good amount of experience in writing this short review. In 1992, A Link to the Past was released. Not only was it one of the best games on the SNES (That is saying A LOT) but it is also one of the greatest console games of ALL TIME. (Not just my opinion, also the opinion of IGN and others.) The LTTP remake for handheld was very good as well. Six generations following that game’s events, this sequel starts. It’s not only in the same world but also has the same map. It’s so unreal I almost didn’t believe it as I started playing.
Basically this is the second 3D Zelda game for the 3DS, the first being the re-release of Ocarina of Time. I played that on the 3DS as well, and own it (didn’t beat it… I know, I know), but it wasn’t disappointing. I knew it wouldn’t compare to playing the original on N64 in 1996, in the height of my gaming lifetime, but it was solid. This is on a whole new level. Here are the pros and the cons, including the reason why you NEED to buy A Link Between Worlds.
In my opinion, if you are reading this and debating what to do, you NEED to buy this game. I would pay far more then $39.99 for this. It is SO much better than some of the $59.99 releases for the larger consoles. The ONLY disadvantage is has is that it needs to be played on the 3DS or 2DS (definitely the 3DS) and is too short for my liking. But it’s not necessarily short for a Zelda game, so let that be known. (I love JRPGs and LONG games, and making games longer, so this is totally subjective.)
Now for the ridiculously long list of positives, which I will break down:
Soundtrack – It is amazing and original. It features classic Zelda tracks that are altered, remixed, and sound crystal clear without being too complicated. You can only do much on a handheld with music, and this does it. By it, I mean, whatever can be done. It is engaging and varied enough that you don’t have anyone complaining about these annoying riffs repeating in their head. At the same time, it hits that nostalgic effect right on the head. (Replaying Adventure of Link through the DS Store did not make everyone in the house happy!)
Graphics – Again, it’s a 3DS, which can’t and does not try to compete with the larger consoles, but it provides one of the most engaging 3D experiences we’ve seen in gaming. It is charming, reminds you of past Zelda games, compliments the music perfectly, and ADDS to the story. It is exactly what the game needs.
Controls – Again, Nintendo provides top notch quality. The stylus is not used a lot but the touch screen is. At the same time, there are shortcuts to avoid using it too much in the heat of a battle. No clumsy fumbling from d-pad and buttons to the touch screen, which I love. Some innovations but nothing too risky, no failures. You utilize the L and R keys often but just like the original Legend of Zelda, you keep it real with the d-pad and the classic buttons. Using the running feature, I won’t spoil it, can be hard to handle but it’s not unreasonable. You can also attack at all angles, which a lack of was the downfall of the original Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden.
Story – I read a review on Metacritic that this game doesn’t have anything that makes you attached to the story. Oh man, do I disagree. This game hits a home run in this category. If you look at the amount of releases in major series (Resident Evil, Castlevania, Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, etc.) you start to ask what makes this game different, and worthwhile. Without providing too many spoilers, this game goes more in depth with some of the famous supporting characters in the repeating Legend of the Hero of Hyrule. Once you play you will know what I am talking about. It brings back classic characters and innovates with villains. Some games neglect to bring an aspect of Ganon and some games focus solely on Ganon. This game does everything. It is a great balance. I can’t say much about story without providing spoilers, but just think Symphony of the Night, sort of, for Zelda. Enough said, right?
Difficulty: It is a Zelda game, not Ninja Gaiden. It is easy but engages the mind and the fingers! There are some challenging parts but beating the main quest without full completion takes little effort. Turning into a painting actually makes the game far easier since it is the ultimate defense!
Extra – HERO MODE! Once you beat the game you unlock hero mode, I am almost through with it, so I can say more later. It is similar, but a hit basically kills you! (Not quite) There is also a Streetpass battle function that I haven’t messed around with too much but its another function! Small SPOILER: You can choose the order of dungeons to complete, to a certain degree, and rupees actually mean something! You buy many key items instead of finding them! Remember the last time those two functions were available? 1986’s The Legend of Zelda for NES. It brings back amazing memories.
So basically, this game obviously has very few downfalls. It has a riveting story with tons of integration into the history of Hyrule. It also goes more in depth with certain characters that have been neglected in the past. It may not be revolutionary, but it is very innovative and might influence a better flow of handheld gaming. Gamespot named it 2013’s game of the year, across all platforms… not a bad title.
Give it a play and let me know what you think. Also comment below on your history with the Zelda franchise and which games were your favorites! The original Legend of Zelda will always be first on my list since it was my first game I ever played and the game that got me into gaming.
BONUS KITTY PIC