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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review – The Best Zelda Since Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: A Link between Worlds is without a doubt a serious contender for best Zelda title. Having never played its twenty-two year old predecessor A Link to the Past I had little to no prior knowledge of the original. However, given its Zelda and few titles have actually been follow-up sequels I rested in the comfort that I could finish the game without feeling like I should have played the original.
A Link between Worlds is the first original Zelda title for 3DS and gives old school players the chance to bathe in nostalgia as it rehashes the old-school top-down view of earlier entries. If you’ve played any Zelda game before then you’ll immediately familiarise yourself with the princess-saving, Triforce-collecting aspects of the series. However, A Link between Worlds not only reinvites fans back into Hyrule for the standard fare, it invigorates the series with redefining alterations to the gameplay and deconstructs its usual linear mechanics, proving to be the most innovative Zelda title in years.
The story begins several hundred years after the events of A Link to the Past with another sleeping green-tunic-wearing hero. The game’s antagonist Yuga has captured Zelda and the seven Sages by morphing them into paintings. It’s up to the new blacksmith apprentice to pick up the Master Sword and Hylian shield to fulfil his role of Hyrule’s hero. The hero’s eventually thrust into Hyrule’s dark parallel universe Lorule and must gather the Triforce to save both worlds.While the story is good and offers plenty of surprises, it’s not entirely memorable. It’s charming and is layered with soft-hearted humour throughout but it doesn’t quite reach the emotional impact of earlier entries. I’d almost completely forgotten the antagonist’s name and appearance not even an hour into the game.
A Link between Worlds is undeniably gorgeous. The visuals are beautifully polished, the characters are bouncy and lively and the layered environments are rich in bright colours. It’s the materialisation of happiness and child-like innocence morphed into a euphoric hand-held device. The gameplay never feels boring as you’re constantly figuring out puzzles, exploring dungeons, playing mini-games, collecting heart pieces and running errands in exchange for rewards.
A Link between World’s isn’t set on a direct path like previous entries, it fuels decisiveness for players by giving them choice in a non-linear Zelda title. The introduction of the rabbit costumed lad Ravio offers players this customisable approach to finishing the title. He sets up shop in your house and allows you to rent or buy most of the game’s required items not long after you’ve finished the first three dungeons. Since you’ll be banking a lot of rupees you’ll never be too short of renting an item but if you’re defeated in battle you’ll lose them all. It’s best to spend that huge chunk of your rupee wallet more to make a concrete purchase and keep your items even after your heart gauge flatlines. It’s an interesting take on how players obtain items as it allows you to choose which dungeon to explore first. However it takes away the beauty of successfully reaching and opening those large chests in temples to find the item you need.
One of the more marketed points of A Link between Worlds shows off Link’s ability to transform into a two-dimensional painting. This transformation which switches between 2D and 3D allows Link to traverse through almost any wall to solve puzzles and grab out-of-reach chests. It’s successfully executed and is a welcome innovation for the series, rewarding those players who go that extra bit further to obtain faraway hidden items. The painting-transformation is also used to slip in between cracks to cross back and forth between Hyrule and the low-spirited, parallel world of Lorule. A Link between Worlds includes some of the best dungeons I’ve ever seen in the franchise and offers difficult but rewarding challenges. Aside from the Turtle Rock dungeon I always knew what I had to do and was always sure about how to accomplish objectives.
If you’re buying this game simply for the nostalgia then you’re doing it wrong. The throwback to what I’ve heard is arguably one of the greatest Zelda titles is an absolute bonus for fans but only serves as a nifty addition to an overwhelmingly charming game.
If you love Zelda, buy this game. If you’ve never played Zelda before, buy this game. You’ll undoubtedly feel like you’re coated by warm joyousness long after the credits have faded. The all-round family-friendly adventure is an absolute must for 3DS owners as it’s a magnificent, if not the best, addition to the Zelda franchise.