'The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds' Is A Link To Nintendo's Past

November 18, 2013

The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's most important, and lucrative franchises. Since 1986, Link, Zelda, and Hyrule have been key fixtures on almost every hardware platform that the company has ever released. Their adventures remain in gamers' hearts as some of the most harrowing and memorable times with a controller in their hands. Whether you're chasing down an Octorok in the NES classics, or raising your Wii controller skyward, Link is a hero for all ages. Out of his long and storied history, arguably his best journey was on the Super Nintendo in A Link To The Past, where he traveled between worlds to vanquish Ganon, and, once again, save Princess Zelda. Finally, 22 years after its original release, gamers are finally getting to return to one of the best iterations of Hyrule, as A Link to the Past has received a proper follow up on the 3DS. A Link Between Worlds take place hundreds of years after A Link To The Past, and follows the tale of another Link as he tries to save his Princess Zelda from a perilous fate.

Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 3
Publisher: Nintendo

Nintendo have been making Zelda games since the dawn of the modern gaming era, and by now they know what they're doing. Links have come in all different shapes and sizes, and have traveled to a host of different versions of Hyrule, but the adventure contained within A Link Between Worlds is one of the most familiar, sending players back to the world of A Link To The Past. As a follow up to one of the most successful games in the franchise, A Link Between Worlds has remained faithful to its heritage, and kept Hyrule just as you likely remember it. Now, Lorule, that's a true product of Eiji Aonuma, and the current Zelda team; fortunately, they don't miss a beat.

Hundreds of years have passed since a hero saved Princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil Ganon, and that story has become part of the mythology of Hyrule. Fortunately, since then, the kingdom has not been in need of another hero, until the fateful day when a mysterious man trapped the descendents of the Seven Sages inside paintings, stealing them away from their homes in Hyrule. As the prophecy stated, a hero would arise to save the kingdom in its time of need. This time around, that hero is Link, the blacksmith's apprentice, and he is destined to wield the Master Sword to save the Sages, and most importantly, the Princess Zelda. In order to do so, Link must master a mystical ability to merge with walls, and travel between worlds, to the kingdom of Lorule where the powerful paintings have been taken. He must battle his way through a series of dungeons, and rescue each Sage before they can be used to break the seal, and resurrect Ganon once again.

Since A Link Between Worlds serves as a follow up to A Link the the Past the gameplay is quite similar. The team at Nintendo have brought back the classic, top-down view from the 16-bit era, but updated it to take advantage of the 3DS' 3D. The final result is a beautifully rendered world, that feels familiar, but is actually home to an entirely new experience.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is this holiday's big 3DS release, so that's the only place you're going to find it. The game was always intended for the small screen, as Shigeru Miyamoto started pushing the game's Director, Eiji Aonuma, for a follow up to A Link To The Past as soon as the 3DS was released. It was designed to take full advantage of the system's 3D functionality, and look good while it's doing it.

Whether you're old enough to let nostalgia cloud your view or not, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a great game. Nintendo have tried recreating the feel of a top-down Zelda game before, but A Link Betweeen Worlds is the first time since A Link to the Past where they got it just right… and that's no coincidence. A Link to the Past is one of the best games of the 16-bit era - it's even up there with some of the best games of all time. It set the standard for what makes a good adventure game, and those precedents still permeate games of all different kinds to this day. A Link Between Worlds is a worthy follow-up, taking cues from A Link to the Past, but not letting it get in the way of telling a new and wonderful story. The changes to the Zelda formula, like allowing Link to rent all of his weapons at the same time, break form from the series' conventions, but they don't break the game. Each of the game's dungeons is expertly designed, and generally rely more on Link's ability to merge with the wall than anything that's in his pouch. From start to finish, A Link Between Worlds is a game that will warm any Zelda fan's heart while putting their adventuring skills to the test.