Written by Eric Gallegos
A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo was my first foray in the Zelda series; it was also the first video game I ever played. So it was no surprise I was somewhat hesitant when A Link Between Worlds was announced. While I was excited that A Link Between Worlds would have the same visuals and gameplay as the original (with some updates for the 3DS of course), I couldn’t help wonder if it would live up to the original and possibly leave a sour taste in my mouth. Well, I can safely say that A Link Between Worlds took everything I loved about A Link to the Past and made it even better.
The story takes place following the events of A Link to the Past. Our hero must stop the evil Yuga from stealing paintings that contain the seven sages. A Link Between Worlds maintains a pretty predictable storyline, but it is really its’ gameplay that shines.
I was always a sucker for the 2D overview of A Link to the Past; I can even say I love it more than the wonderful open world 3D versions we have received since then. The presentation in A Link Between Worlds is amazing. With the use of the 3D, this 2D overview looks amazing. Simply seeing demos and videos of A Link Between Worlds doesn’t do the presentation justice. I was amazed at how fluid the movement of Link and environments were. This really is a game that needs to be played on the 3DS with the 3D completely on. The 3D presentation is also particularly useful in most of the dungeons.
One of the staples of the Zelda franchise are its’ dungeons and the dungeons in A Link Between World are simply astonishing. Each dungeon is completely different from one another and requires some hefty puzzle solving in order to accomplish. A change of pace for the Zelda franchise this time around is the availability of items for your toolkit from the get go. You no longer have to unlock the boomerang, bow and arrow, or other items from various dungeons. These items are available to rent from an enthusiastic man wearing a purple bunny hat. Before you enter a dungeon, you can rent any item you feel is necessary to solve the puzzles. Beware though, if you die, these items are taken away and you must go back and rent them again. This little change offers so much in terms of gameplay. Your rupees now play an important role, plus the implications of dying are much worse.
The other showstopper for A Link Between Worlds is a bracelet that transforms Link into a 2D painting. Initially, I thought this would be a lame gimmick that the franchise was introducing. As soon as I got my hands on it though, I enjoyed it so much. This added element increases puzzle difficult immensely as it made you look at dungeons from a different perspective. It is also your means of traveling to and from the dark world.
One final thing I loved about A Link Between Worlds was the freedom to complete dungeons as I saw fit. You are allowed to complete each dungeon in whichever order you like as long as you discover what item is important for that certain dungeon. This little idea also strays away from the typical Zelda franchise formula, but it was one that I appreciated more than I initially thought I would.
In the end, A Link Between Worlds lived up to my expectations. I would actually consider it even better than A Link to the Past. It took everything I loved from the original and gave it a twist that enhanced it greatly. It is definitely one of the best games I have ever played and one I look forward to playing repeatedly.