The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is widely regarded as being one of the best 2D Legend of Zelda games, if not one of the best Legend of Zelda games of all time, depending on who you ask, of course.
A Link to the Past is a return to the classic Legend of Zelda style of play, after the departure that was Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Zelda II was more of a side scrolling action game, but Link to the Past helped cement the dominant style of Zelda as the standard for years to come. Even when Zelda made the jump to 3D in Ocarina of Time, the style of Link to the Past retained its core gameplay style of focusing on puzzles and exploration with a healthy dose of combat mixed in.
A Link to the Past revolves around an evil wizard, Agahnim, who is in the process of imprisoning the last descendant of the 7 wise men, Princess Zelda in an effort to break the seal of the Golden Land where the Triforce resides. The one who touches the Triforce gets their wish granted, and so it’s up to last descendant in the line of heroes, Link to stop him.
When you think 2D Legend of Zelda, you think of Link to the Past. You can expect lovable characters, challenging dungeons, a large world to explore and discover secrets in, and plenty of collectibles. Link to the Past is no exception, and perhaps the first of the Zelda series to include such a living, breathing world. The first and second games in the Zelda series were kind of just games, more than experiences. Link to the Past was the first game to really feel like an experience, like you were actually making changes to the characters and the world.
As is typical for the Zelda formula, you’ll help people by finding items they need, and advance through dungeons using the tools you’ve found within, typically. You’ll use a plethora of different tools, upgrade your sword, shield, and armor a few times, as well as find hidden pieces of heart to upgrade your total health. The tools you’ll find also typically open a path to new areas. For example, a really heavy rock was in your way, but now that you have the Titan’s Mitt, you can move it with ease and explore an entire new area, in a real Metroidvania-type feel. All of the above creates a real sense of progression, so you can feel Link getting stronger and more versatile as you progress.
A Link to the Past has about 12 dungeons in it. Some are short and simple like the introductory dungeon, while others are sprawling and confusing. Each dungeon is more challenging than the last, and by the time you make it to the last few, you’ll start to sweat a bit as they can get tough and sometimes irritating. It’s very satisfying to figure out what to do and where to go, and a Link to the Past’s art style and sound design only enhances the experience. You’ve got the catchy staples of the Legend of Zelda sounds and music to accompany you through your journey.
There’s really not a whole lot to say about Link to the Past that hasn’t been said before. It’s a great game and even when you think you’re coming up on the end, BAM you’re not even close to half way done. I love when games do this, a notable example being Okami.
I’ve gotta deduct a few points for some of the more cryptic things in the game that you must do to complete it, and the ramp up in difficulty near the end is pretty drastic; you go from cruising through no problem to getting rocked all of a sudden, I feel.
The Bottom Line
- Great puzzles, world, and exploration.
- Beautiful presentation, both in graphics and in music.
- A satisfying feeling of progression throughout the game.
- The difficulty bump out of nowhere.
- Cryptic and sometimes frustrating solutions to puzzles.
Final Score: 9.5/10
I feel like your favorite Zelda is the Zelda you grew up with. Mine was Majora’s Mask, and it is still my favorite LoZ. I can absolutely see why A Link to the Past is a lot of people’s favorite, but the jump to 3D, I feel, completely enhanced the series for the better, especially the combat.