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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review
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Book Name: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Formatt: 3DS
Genre(s): Fantasy / Action-Adventure
Release Date: November 22, 2013

“We are nothing but dwarfs, standing on the shoulders of giants”, Bernard of Chartres allegedly said, and I’d be hard pressed to find a bigger truth. Whether in fantasy literature, telecommunications or psychology, we are always taking what others have done and twisting or merging it to make something bigger, faster, better or just more in accordance to the sensibilities of our times. Obviously, videogames are no exception.

One of my earliest gaming memories was playing one of the biggest hits of its time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which told the story of Link, a boy who gets tangled in a plot by the evil Ganondorf to take control of the Triforce, the all-powerful artifact that can fulfill the wishes of anyone who touches it. In order to achieve this goal, he takes the castle of Hyrule by storm and kidnaps its princess, Zelda.

Being as it is one of the most iconic games to come out of Shigeru Miyamoto’s fertile imagination, it was inevitable that a remake would come sooner or later. This being Nintendo, however, it was not a simple rehash in HD, but a full reimagining of the game, keeping all the elements that marked a whole generation of gamers, while taking advantage of the considerable capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS.

The game takes place many years after the events of A Link to the Past. The events of the first game are dimly remembered as legends of a hero that saved Hyrule in the hour of its greatest need. Now, obviously, danger shows its ugly head again, in the form of the evil sorcerer Yuga, who can turn people into paintings, an ability that he uses to kidnap princess Zelda and many other Hyrule citizens. Fortunately, our hero has received an amulet that allows him to switch between a painting and reality at will, allowing him to escape from Yuga’s clutches.

While the wall-merging might sound like a trivial addition, it makes an enormous difference in gameplay. Since Link can walk along walls while in painting form, chasms lose a lot of their menace, while at the same time giving a new layer of complexity when braving the many dungeons in Hyrule and its dark twin, Lorule.

The game’s greatest weakness is its plot. While entertaining, it’s amazingly formulaic: anyone who has played a few role-playing games will see the twists coming from a mile away, with many of the tropes of the genre played almost painfully straight (the hero, the damsel in distress, the big bad, etc). This, however, can be forgiven in a game that panders not only to the new gamers, but also to the old ones who played the original (incidentally serving as a literal link between worlds).

Another interesting twist is that, thanks to the squatter merchant Rovio (who takes over Link’s house), we don’t have to worry about equipment: everything we need to access the dungeons, from bombs to the boomerang or the bow, can be rented for a very small fee, or outright bought. This means that, unlike his predecessor, we can now access the dungeons in the order we wish.

The game makes an amazing job in the recreation of Hyrule, making it feel like we’re visiting an old friend after a very long absence. All of the classic enemies are still there, with the mandatory graphic and animation update. The dungeons have been completely redesigned in order to account early equipment access and the wall merging. As with everything else in this game, they retain the atmosphere of the original, while acknowledging the technological jump of the previous twenty years. Their layout has been completely redesigned, giving a steep but affordable difficulty. Finally, the bosses are the same in each dungeon, but in many cases their mechanics have changed dramatically.

I am usually adverse to using phrases such as “this is a game you must own” or anything of the sort. But if you own a Nintendo 3DS and played the original SNES game, you would be missing in a very enjoyable nostalgia trip.

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