Published on June 29th, 2014 | by octaneblue1
Review: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Developer(s): Nintendo EAD Group No. 3, Monolith Soft
Platform(s): 3DS, 3DS eShop
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Perfect (or close enough to it)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is largely considered one of Nintendo’s greatest achievements. While not a direct sequel to it, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS, the newest title in the long-running series, does take place in the same setting as the SNES classic, and draws plenty of inspiration from it as well.
Series producer Eiji Aonuma and his team constantly strive to make each new title in the series fresh and unique. And it’s safe to say that they succeeded in doing so with this game – it’s a must-own title for the 3DS. Read on for the full review of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds!
The graphics of A Link Between Worlds are quite nice. If you’ve played A Link to the Past, imagine how that would look with the jump in hardware power from the SNES to the 3DS. And that’s pretty much how A Link Between Worlds looks like graphically. The character models look good, and everything is animated well too. Special mention goes out to the cutscenes, which look awesome, as well as the bosses; several of the bosses in the game are quite big. While its certainly playable without it, A Link Between Worlds makes excellent use of the stereoscopic 3D feature of the 3DS. There are several sections in the game that are enhanced via the use of 3D; if you play with the 3D turned up at least a little bit, it actually helps out with navigating some sections of the game and with certain puzzles too. The soundtrack features several remixes of classic Zelda tunes, most notably ones from A Link to the Past, as well as some brand-new tracks. The soundtracks of Zelda games are constantly impressive, and the soundtrack of this iteration is no different.
The core gameplay of A Link Between Worlds is similar to several previous Zelda games featuring the same top-down perspective. Link will travel throughout the vast land of Hyrule, meeting friendly characters, battling enemies, gaining new equipment, exploring dungeons, and slaying bosses. But the game isn’t a simple retread and adds several new elements to the gameplay, all of which make the adventure more streamlined and fun overall.
The game’s setting is huge – there are several different areas of Hyrule to go through and explore. It would normally take a very long time to get from one point to another in most of the previous games in the series, but this entry thankfully has a warp system that you unlock rather early on in the game that allows you to seamlessly warp to any bird statues you’ve activated. The quick traveling system here is something that’s very welcome, especially since you’ll have to go back and forth between areas at points in the game. The bird statues also serve as the game’s save points, and thankfully they aren’t scattered too far apart, so if you need to save, there’s generally a statue around the corner.
Another noteworthy change to the game is the equipment system. Typically you’d find new equipment mostly in dungeons in previous Zelda games, but in A Link Between Worlds, you can rent and eventually buy equipment from the mysterious masked salesman Ravio. Renting equipment is very cheap, but all rentals will be returned to Ravio if Link is defeated in battle, and they’ll have to be rented again. Buying the equipment is very expensive, but thankfully there are a good amount of chests with high rupee amounts in the game. You can actually get through the game by just renting equipment, so buying them outright is totally optional (although probably not recommended). And what’s also interesting is that these items work using magic. So instead of having to stock up on bombs, arrows, and so on, you can keep using them until your magic runs out, and your magic slowly refills itself or you can collect magic bottles to instantly refill it. These are some outstanding changes to the typical equipment elements found in previous Zelda games. After how well this works out in this game, one can hope that the next title in the series will use the same, or at least a very similar, mechanic.
Throughout the land, little shell creatures called Maiamais are hiding. Some of them are pretty easy to spot, while others will definitely require extensive searches, sometimes with specific equipment obtained later in the game. Exactly 100 of these are scattered about, and these are noteworthy because, for each increment of 10 you collect, their mother will upgrade a piece of equipment of your choice, but only if they’ve been bought. This isn’t required in the game, but it’s really helpful and it can be pretty fun finding the Maiamais. The map on the bottom screen of the 3DS has a marker feature that allows you to set up to 20 “pins,” a very helpful feature for pinning Maiamais that you can’t get, or other important areas that you’ll need to return to later on.
In each Zelda game, a special ability is usually available for Link to use: Ocarina of Time has time travel, Majora’s Mask has the masks, Twilight Princess has the wolf transformation, and so on. A Link Between Worlds has two distinct abilities. The first one, as indicated by the game’s title, is the ability to travel between worlds. By slipping through several portals scattered throughout Hyrule, Link will instantly warp to the equivalent spot in Lorule. This leads to some interesting situations, as certain parts of one area must first be accessed through the other. And areas in one world are often very different in the other, and it should be noted that Lorule is definitely the more dangerous world, as more enemies are found in Lorule than in Hyrule. The enemies of Lorule are also different from those encountered in Hyrule, so even though both worlds share a similar map, exploring each one is a vastly different experience.
The second ability that Link has in A Link Between Worlds is the ability to press up against a wall and change into a flat painting. This is useful for accomplishing feats that Link wouldn’t normally be able to do, such as slipping through cracks and bypassing gaps by walking on walls, and it’ll also be handy for several puzzles and boss fights too. The whole painting mechanic may seem a bit odd at first, but players should quickly become adjusted to it and find it entertaining as well. These two abilities go together because Link must be in his painting form to travel between worlds.
And another very noteworthy aspect of A Link Between Worlds is that its dungeons are open in a non-sequential order. As long as you have the right equipment (usually icons are put in front of the dungeon to indicate what you need), you can go to which ever ones you want in whatever order you want, with the exception of the very last one. This is an awesome feature in an entry that already has a great number of improvements to the established Zelda formula.
A Link Between Worlds will likely take around 15-20 hours, but it’ll take longer if you go through and complete all the sidequests and collect everything. The game length is definitely satisfactory, primarily because there is absolutely no filler whatsoever. As you progress through Hyrule and Lorule, there’s the occasional sidequest and minigame, but there’s nothing that really stops you from going though the main adventure, which was great. Once you complete the game, you’ll unlock the Hero Mode, a much more difficult version of the main quest. In addition, the game supports StreetPass. When you StreetPass another player with the game, Shadow Link appears in a specific location, and defeating him yields a bounty of rupees.
Not only is The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on one of the best games on the 3DS, but it’s one of the best games in the Legend of Zelda series so far. If you’re a fan of the series, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. And if you’ve never played a game in the series, this is actually a very nice starting point. Highly recommended!
+ Incredibly fun gameplay
+ Large number of improvements and positive changes to the Zelda formula
+ Very nice graphics and soundtrack
Final Score: 5 out of 5
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