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A Link to the past was not only my introduction to the Zelda series of games but it was also an amazing game, easily one of the best SNES games of the decade and some people say the best Zelda title of all time. While you may not agree with the last statement there is no denying that A Link to the Past was a great title of its day.
A link to the past pays homage to the original Zelda whilst blending elements from the Adventure of Link. The whole game is designed in a forced top down perspective. After the start of the game is over you are free to explore Hyrule, unlocking new items as you go, which allow you to access different areas of the vast world map. This world is laid out in a way which allows Link to venture into every area yet stops the player entering a lot of them, revealing some access to add temptation and increase curiosity.
However this is not to say that exploration is not rewarded, many of the games items come from hidden areas and not all are essential to completing the game, however all will improve your abilities and aid you in your battle against evil. However once you have all the items and you progress further within the game, you have access to not only thew whole world map but a dark reflection of it as well, known as the dark world.
This world is not just a cheap reflection of the first one but an involved and twisted brutal version of the first. this idea later formed the basis of the dark world in Ocarina of Time, which is essentially the same plot line as A Link to the Past.
The SNES allowed for there to be many more dimensions to gameplay and A Link to the Past was, therefore a bit more involved than its predecessors. The game allowed players to access different equipment from the sub-menu, most of which had different abilities. Some of the classic Zelda items returned, such as the bomb, boomerang and the bow and arrow, while others were introduced such as the magical flame rod, the Magic cape and Bottles for holding potions, catching insects and faeries.
Link is no longer just restricted to a standard cut with his sword either. The game introduced dash attacks, a spin as well as a unique attack which fires swirling blades of air from it when you are on full health.
The system upgrade allowed for vast and complex multilevel dungeons to be created. The improvement in graphics and memory alone allowed for many more on screen sprites, meaning more enemies and better special environmental effects in cut scenes and boss fights. These dungeons are where the game really shines, they are superbly designed and very intricate. All of them are challenging from the first to the last and there are plenty of them throughout the game, getting gradually more devious as the adventure progresses.
Unlike the previous games you have to think to solve these dungeons. They are no longer about slide puzzles and killing but about switches, trickery and hitting enemies strategic weak points. Those who can surpass all of this are rewarded with boss fights. The bosses are generally at least ten times larger than Link and very deadly. Like all Zelda games to date, the boss battles are always unique and impressive, A Link to the past is no different. Throughout the game you will fight epic creatures, ancient demons and evil magicians all of which present a real challenge and will test your patience.
The game controls the same as the original game but smoother. Link now can dash and use special items as well as swing his sword, all of which are easy to use and adapt to. Whilst simple and easy to handle there are still strategies to learning every single weapon, specifically the trustworthy bomb and the boomerang.
The audio in the Zelda series has always been very impressive but it was A Link to the Past which put most of the Zelda tunes we know today into place. The Dark World theme still reminds me of my first journey there, the amazement and horror of my eight year old self still resonates with me whenever I hear it. The tune of Hyrule Castle and The Great Fairy Fountain music have both been in a lot of other Zelda games too just to name a few. Most of these themes have now become hardcore fan favourites and most are recognisable to anyone that has played even one Zelda game. Each tune is distinct and uniquely Zelda, this is due to the composer Koji Kondo, world renowned for his work with Nintendo. His music touches the heart of gamers because it links in so perfectly with the atmosphere of the game, drawing you in and suspending disbelief.
The sound effects in the game also resonated with charm, while they are not all very realistic they are of their time. As far as sound effects went they were some of the greatest on the SNES. The bows hitting foes armour, the squeal of a rat in a dungeon and the explosion of a bomb were all good and satisfying. The muffled cries of enemies in conjunction with the music really added to the atmosphere creating a more intense experience, especially in the dungeon sections with no light.
As a Link to the Past was pretty much a first generation title its graphics are outstanding. The game designers and artists made sure to exploit the SNES' ability to render layers and scale objects. The overworld looks impressive and it moved along well, seeming very rounded and natural compared to its somewhat blocky predecessors
The overworld was bright and colourful whereas the dungeons as well as the Dark World later on were stark and bleak in contrast. Each dungeon having it's own theme, whether it be stone, sand, ice, darkness or water each added to the games massive scope, making the game feel like a whole world huge and all encompassing.
The animations and presence of so many NPC's and enemies was something new to the series as well. Each of these were rendered superbly well with a lot of cartoony character. Link as a bunny in the Dark world was as cute as he was ridiculous and the skeletal chickens were horrific while strangely sad. The animations of all the enemies, bosses, link and the NPCs are all fluid and impressive, still to this day and add to their individual character.
Graphically even compared to the 2D games of today, it still holds its own. While dated it does remain impressive and the sheer scope and size is hard to rival. It is clear to tell that a lot of love and effort went into making such a game world appear so strongly unique.
Even though I loved a Link to the Past I never thought I would go back and replay it after my initial few times as a child, yet only last year I found it in a drawer along with my SNES and gave it a play. Those that like a good 2D adventure will still get a kick out of this gem, but those of the new generation that like their games less than 15 hours in length, with little to no challenge will probably be highly frustrated here. Even now a lot of the puzzles make my brain hurt despite having done them multiple times.
What also separates this from modern day Zelda titles is that Link is also really weak, his hearts disappear like he is made out of paper and you will often find yourself teleported back to the start of a dungeon. For many dungeons it is a painful and lengthy process but then the reward for success is so much sweeter. the epic boss fight followed by further progression.
The game has a good amount of replay value for the story alone. There are still some things to locate around the map such as hidden items and heart containers but nothing too vast that will take up another huge chunk of time. A Link to the Past is driven by a long story and does not rely on cheap collectables to keep the game prolonged, like a lot of modern day games.
I fimly belive if you have not played A Link toi the past you cannot call yourself a proper Zelda fan as it is the mother of the Zelda we know today. Not just in theme but in both music and style as well, the dungeons influenced all of the newer games and most of the weapons feature in the modern Zeldas too. This is the grail of the Zelda series. A lot of fans grew around The Ocarina of Time yet it is basically a remake of this game, so while the 2D may put a lot of new breed gamers off, it is still a must play for any fan.
It is hard, frustrating but it sent the benchmark for every Zelda game to date in a very big way.
Considering that the Zelda franchise spans 15 (soon to be 16) games over 6 different consoles (we're not including the awful CD-I versions), it might come as a surprise that only one game appeared on the Super Nintendo.
You could get the impression that this is because Nintendo, having spent alot of time and effort making the game and subsequently seeing the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the game, knew that they'd never better it on the SNES and opted to wait for new technology to push the series further.
The Legend of Zelda III: A Link to the Past was one of the benchmark titles on the SNES and to fans of the Zelda series, the concept of LttP is a familiar one. In fact as with most Zelda games, it's a re-hash of the same base plot with similar if not identical characters. Now many would say that this is a weak point, but i think it speaks volumes for the quality of these games, if they can still rate so highly with so many recurring elements.
The gameplay is an overhead view that allows the player to take in a large scope and this lends itself perfectly to the combination of action and puzzle solving that the game offers.
The simple and colourful graphics give the game some personality and the musical score is now considered a computer gaming classic.
The game also boasts a simple control system which is refreshing in an age of controllers with more buttons than you have fingers.
But the games real party trick is a system that allows the player to switch between two worlds (Light and Dark) and allowing Link to take advantage of structural differences between the worlds. It's a system that adds another often unseen dimension to the games puzzles.
Add all these elements together and give them a story that drives the player onwards, and Link to the Past is retro gaming at it's best. The last truly epic game before the next-gen consoles shoved their way onto the scene. And despite the obvious technological gap, it's still a fun and challenging game, one that i'm currently plowing through for the 3rd time.
You may be familiar with the N64 Zelda game, as there was a HUGE amount of hype surrounding it. This works in a very similar way (but in overhead 2D, obviously) to said game, and I prefer Zelda III to Zelda 64. Why? That's what this here review is here to tell you. Zelda 64's strength, I think, is that it has intelligent puzzles, and this prequel is no different. A lot of the game's puzzles are very well thought out and constructed. The way the game adds variety to the puzzles is to add new gadgets to your inventory, and each must be used in a variety of ways to progress. The bow and arrow is not only a weapon, for example, it can be used to hit distant switches, too. These items, once collected, are used for the entire game, making a perfect difficultly curve because as you progress, you have an increasingly large number of items to solve the problem with. Another use of the items is exploration. It is not possible to see the entire map after the first dungeon, as there are streams you can't yet swim across, rocks you can't lift yet, wooden pegs you can't drive into the ground etc, so every time you complete a dungeon, a bit of the world map will open up to you. As it is only a 1 megabyte cart, the amount of space wasted is minimal. The world map is small and would probably take about 3 minutes at most to get from one side to the other, but this is more useful than annoying. Like Zelda 64, there are 2 parallel worlds to explore, and a large amount of the puzzles revolve around switching between the two. Nobody seems to have noticed the next point. The guards' AI is pretty damn good. I tested them, and they have a definite line of sight - ie. they won't run after you if you walk behind them - they have hearing as they turn around if you shoot anything past them, and they only look around cautiously if you are just in their line of sight. That you can sword-fight with them is surely worth a percent or 2 too
. Presentation wise, this game now pales in comparison to later Squaresoft, Quintet and Enix productions. It looks like Mario, and it doesn't sound much better, either. The graphics are bright and cheery and the sound matches it. This is the kind of presentation that everyone gets pissed off at Nintendo for. Why not have something like FFVI's Zozo, where everyone's a liar and there are bodies on the street? I heard Nintendo want to make Mario look less cute for his Dolphin game, so how about giving him a scar, knuckle dusters and an intollerance of a cake for saving the princess? Back to Zelda, then. It's hard, rewarding, longish, entertaining, and a small download. [Taken from my site - http://members.madasafish.com/~kefka/]
I might get a few disagreements over my title, I'm sure there are at least a few people who feel that earlier games were better or later ones were better however for me this is the best Zelda game I have played. I have to say that I really do enjoy the style of game this is, it's not really RPG but contains a lot of RPG elements that make it much more than just an action game. I've played just about all the Zelda games at some time and this has been the most enjoyable to me. Earlier games were fun but at times seemed a bit too basic, later games I didn't like because of the 3D view (something I just don't think fits this game, although lots of people would disagree). --Story-- Hyrule is, for once, in an age of peace. Ganon was long ago sealed away by Link and the seven sages however is about to make an unwelcome return. As disasters strike all over the world a wizard by the name of Agahnim comes forth with the power to get rid of all of these problems, working his way into the Kings trust he soon manages to replace the King and start the rule of Hyrule. Working to imprison the original sages, banishing them into the Dark World as they are found the world is soon facing peril again You play Link (although the name will actually depend on the name you enter), a descendent of Link (strange how they all have the same name isn't it? :). You wake up after hearing the sound of someone asking you for help in your head, your Uncle gives you more information however tells you to remain in the house. Ignoring his advice you head to the castle and you find your uncle mortally wounded. Taking his sword and shield you begin your adventure and are soon led to a captive Zelda who you need to rescue and lead to safety. As you progress along the storyline you find out more information about the problems faced in the world and get to know more about yourself and Zelda. What you should also know is th
at the story actually takes place before previous Zelda games (hence the title) although later than later games (confused yet? :) and you will find inconsistancies within the story when you compare it to the other games, however take the story as a stand alone story and you should find it interesting throughout, although with many predictable and unlikely events. --Gameplay-- Anyone familiar with zelda 1 will be familiar with this game. You get a (slightly angled) top down view of the game world. You can move up/down/left/right on each screen and each screen has an up/down/left/right exit. Control is simple and easy to get used to. --Game World-- The game takes place upon 2 world maps and in numerous dungeons. The world maps tend to be more open areas where you have a larger area to move across, whereas dungeons are more enclosed and tend to have a more specific goal. -World Maps- To start with you will only have 1 world map, this will be of the light world. Your movement upon this world starts fairly limited, however by fulfilling various tasks and objectives you slowly get to explore more and more of the world and eventually gain the power to travel to the dark world too which is a near identical version of the light world with evil changes. -Dungeons- A lot of your time will be spent in dungeons, usually with the objective of finding a boss and defeating them. Upon the way however you can find new items, solve puzzles and fulfill a variety of other minor tasks which help you to get to the boss. Each dungeon seems different enough to make it interesting to get through and almost always provides a challenge. --Items-- You start with no inventory, however the game features quite a large variety of items that can be utilised, each with its own unique feature. Some items are fairly standard and will be used on almost every screen while others will only be used now and then to fulfill cert
ain tasks. The items are really the main RPG element of the game, making your character more powerful as you progress throughout the game. For example, you will start with only 3 hearts (these represent your life, not actual hearts in your body) however will gain more by defeating powerful foes and finding them in hidden locations, foes that would normally be tough to face will later on be a doddle to kill. Sword - This is a standard sword that lets you swipe at an enemy and do damage, progressing through the game gives a few opportunities at which your sword will be upgraded and it remains your primary weapon through most of the game. Shield - Used to deflect blows and generally provide some protection. While you can live without a shield in quite a lot of the game it can provide quite a useful feature and is something that you don't really want to be without. Like the sword it has opportunities to be improved throughout the game. Bow - Let's you shoot arrows at monsters/items. Rather than being a weapon you will use all the time it is used for more specific circumstances such as to reach something just out of range of your sword. You get the opportunity to power up the bow later on. Power glove - Various stages of power that determine what you can pick up. Without this you will be unable to get past/throw large rocks. Usage is rare but important. To give you some idea over just how many other items there are that you can gather without going into lots of details about all of them I will give a brief list here: boomerang, firerod, hammer, hookshot, moon pearl, armour, staff of syria, pendants, emblems, bombs, bottles, ice rod, lantern, ocarinea, staff of byrna and many more. Collecting items is one of the fun parts of the game and even late on in the game there is always something new and interesting to find. --Graphics-- The graphics are fairly simple, however quite detailed and very g
ood for such an early SNES game. I recently replayed this game and was not at all bothered by the graphics even now, they fit the game almost perfectly in my opinion, much better than 3D ever could. --Sounds-- Nothing stands out spectacularly, however I had no faults at all with the sounds and felt they were done extremely well. I found nothing at all annoying about them, something I usually do find with most games. --Music-- The music is also great with different music to fit your location ranging from soothing to intense it really fits the game well. My only complaint is having to listen to the sound of Link playing his Ocarina more than once during the game, it was one of the few things that got on my nerves at times. --Saving-- Saving can be done just about whenever you want and is done in such a way that it is extremely useful without being so useful that the game provides no challenge at all. --Control-- Control is simple to get used to and easy to understand, but allows for some strategy to be used. In my opinion it's the best seen in a Zelda game and is unlikely to be improved on. --Longevity-- The game is quite long lasting and will take you many hours to finish with numberous dungeons, a large overland map and a lot of objectives to complete. While it is not amazingly replayable, after being left for a month or 2 it is very playable again and while it won't provide as great an experience as it originally did it will still be fun to play. The game length isn't quite as much as a game like Baldur's Gate 2, but it is easily sufficient to justify its purchase. ---Conclusion--- This game is great and easily my favourite Zelda. I find few faults with it and still enjoy the occasional game now, many years after its release. If you've never tried the game it is well worth at least a download (provided you don't feel bad about using an emulator) just to see
how well the game was made for its time. My advice is to play it, despite its age it is still great.