I’m a fan of The Legend of Zelda, this is no secret. One of my first N64 games was Ocarina of time, I ended up owning the game several times through out my childhood. Even though I never got past the Water Temple until I beat the 3DS remake, the point is that all of my Zelda experience is post OoT. The reason I bring this up is because, A Link Between Worlds is the sequel to A Link to the past. A game that has heralded by many a people, to be the best game of all time. It’s also a Zelda game I never played, after playing a Link between worlds; I intend to rectify that. Surprise, surprise, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between worlds is a fantastic game. If you’re a fan of Zelda, I don’t know why you’re reading this review. If you’re wondering about it, just go buy it. Trust me, and every other critic, it’s good.
As much as I love the 3D Zelda games, the half an hour or so of exposition that most of them put you through kinda kills the desire to replay them for me; Unless I have a good amount of time to kill that is. I’m going to abbreviate here, but ALBW doesn’t have this problem. The crux of the story is explained faster then it takes 4Chan, to post something questionable.
You could say that, thanks to this the plot has lost all depth. Well the plot isn’t deep or complicated; this is true. You still have endearing characters, and If you boil it down to plot points; it’s just as formulaic as every other Zelda game anyway.
Evil appears in Hyrule
Link is the Hero of Hyrule
Link goes on a Journey to fight said Evil.
Evil is vanquished.
Ta Da! You have a Zelda game. It’s just a game that gets straight to the point, it’s just a really nice change of pace after a season of cinematic blockbusters.
I’m gonna let you in on a fact here. Nintendo could take post-cocaine Steven Tyler in a BDSM outfit and somehow, make it the most delightful thing you have ever experienced. Nintendo is fantastic with their presentation, is what I’m saying. The original Wind Waker stands the test of time, let alone the HD remake. So it should be no surprise when I say that, the presentation in A Link Between Worlds is fan-freaking-tastic. As it is with every Zelda game, the soundtrack is brilliant. It’s filled to the brim with rearrangements of classic Zelda tracks, and I wish Nintendo would put it on iTunes. I’ll let it speak for itself.
[embedvideo id=”l9kpICWcmt0″ website=”youtube”] As expected from a first party Nintendo game, A Link Between Worlds is absolutely ravishing. Further pushing that Nintendo doesn’t need top of the line hardware, to make a visually astonishing game; A beautiful art style is just as important. That’s exactly what ALBW has, a great vibrant and cartoony art style that is a feast for the eyes. Both Hyrule and Lorule have their own distinct styles, with plenty of different environments. Desserts, lakes, Volcanoes, Snowy mountains, and the plenty of temples you are destined to conquer. Which is where some of the games most impressive visual elements shine, and also the environments where I have a problem. See, Nintendo is very good with the 3DS. All of their first party titles have fantastic implementation of it, ALBW is not an exception; In fact it’s probably their best work yet. It is especially impressive in the dungeons, as all the dungeons work on multiple floor and some even have mechanics that revolve around depth. Now saying that, the dungeons are also at the center of my only problem with the presentation. While the Dungeons do look impressive, they just lack character. You get exactly what you would expect from the different themed dungeons, no real surprises. This is just me nitpicking though, they still look astounding in their own way.
You know those games you get every once in a while, the ones that grab you by the neck and don’t let go for hours a day? Well, A Link Between Worlds is one of those games. A Link Between Worlds takes a lot from it’s predecessor, that’s not hard to see; Even from someone who hasn’t played A Link To The Past. It’s not just a game that feeds on Nostalgia, it changes enough of the formula to stand on it’s own two feet as a worthy successor. Completing Dungeons and exploring is the core gameplay here, and My favourite change is how item progression is handled. Normally there is a set path of what dungeons you need to do, a new system in place here destroys that. Very early on into the game, a merchant called Ravio occupies Link’s house. The role of Ravio is to rent you all the key items you need to progress.
Dungeons still reward you for completing them, just not with Hookshots, bombs, etc. That job belongs to Ravio. Need a hookshot for a dungeon? you will need to rent it from Ravio. As a result of this, it’s up to you what order you take on the dungeons. This is reflected in the game itself, the in game map (Which takes up the bottom screen) marks where all the dungeons are. Which is great, because ALBW’s newest mechanic might leave a bit stumped from time to time. Each The Legend of Zelda game has it’s own unique mechanic, ALBW’s is the ability to merge into a 2D plane with the environment as something that could be described as a living painting. It’s a simple mechanic to grasp, and the game requires you to use it a lot to travel to Lorule and for a lot of the outstanding Puzzles in the game. I feel like I should mention the Streetpass mechanic, which allows you to fight other player’s Links with a certain Loadout. However since Streetpassing is rare where I live, I didn’t get the chance to try it out.
There will be a lot times where you need to be navigating a 3D environment on a 2D plane to solve a puzzle, and you will often forget that. It’s not a fault of the game, it just takes a while for it to click that you can merge with more or less every flat surface. This power, along with all your weapons and key items work on a single resource. Bombs, Arrows, Hookshots, merging into walls, etc, all use a bit of magic. There are multiple ways to refill the magic bar, but the rate of regeneration is so decent that you won’t really need those methods. More or less, the entire game is completing dungeons.
You do have the two worlds of Hyrule and Lorule to explore, but doing so is just for collectibles or items that makes your life a lot easier. It’s all optional, but highly recommended. Even when I was up at the final dungeon I was finding things that I wish I found earlier in the game. It’s easy to get sucked into just exploring and finding rifts between Lorule and Hyrule, hoping that they will land you in places that will give you something helpful; Like that fourth heart piece you need so badly. I’m not the type of person to go out of his to get collectibles, but you will discover something hidden so often that it quickly becomes an engrossing experience.