Review by ShadowACS
"A timeless classic that will forever shine in video game history."
ShadowACS is back. :P
When the first Zelda game came out for the NES in 1987, people got hyped about it. People were used to simple platformers at the time, like Mario, but Zelda had something those games didn't: a storyline. This wasn't a game, it was an adventure. You travel through caves and woods, battling monsters and finding treasure. It made you feel like a true hero, and it defines the word classic.
Two games and one console later, people were given a new Zelda much like the first one. Unlike Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, which was a side-scroller, Zelda: A Link to the Past was an overhead-scroller. But this was different; if the first Zelda was a masterpiece, Zelda: A Link to the Past goes beyond being a masterpiece. It's one of the greatest Zelda games to this day, and possibly one of the greatest games in existence. With the exception of Super Metroid, I think it's the best game for the Super Nintendo, and considering how amazing that system was, that's saying a heck of a lot.
Please note that in this review I'll spend a good deal of time comparing Zelda: A Link to the Past with its predecessor on the NES, to help explain how incredibly awesome this game is. If you haven't played either of them, I'll do my best to guide you through it.
The first Zelda's story was simple, but ahead of its time: Get the triforce pieces, stop Ganon, and save Zelda. The third one is a bit different. It's more or less a prequel to the first Zelda game. Link (the main hero for those of you who are video-game-inept) is having a dream of Zelda, the princess of Hyrule, tells him to save her from the evil wizard Agahnim. Apparently Zelda is the descendant of one of seven wise men who sealed the triforce away in a golden land long ago. What is the triforce, you may ask? It's an ancient relic that will grant the wishes of the first person to find it. Agahnim is trying to break the seven wise men's seal by sealing away their descendents.
At first, Link's uncle goes out to save Zelda, leaving Link behind, but when Link catches up with him, he finds that his uncle got his poor behind handed to him. He gives Link his sword and shield, telling him to go save Zelda in his place. Thus, an adventure ensues where many events take place, including the first appearance of the Master Sword, the legendary heroes' weapon.
Now, you may be asking, what happened to Ganon? Wasn't he the final boss/main villain in the first game? Well, Ganon is in the game, but he doesn't appear till later. For most of the game, Agahnim is the main villain.
I love classic Zelda storylines. :)
The graphics in the first Zelda were decent for 8-bit, but left quite a bit to be desired. They looked rather bland, with white being the predominant color in the overworld (except for the trees). Now all of that's gone. As opposed to there being just a solid color, the ground has a bit of texture and grass growing in it. The enemies look well-designed and realistic, and the bosses are all huge monsters that actually look really good. As for the dungeons, they look dark and empty, as is appropriate. The overworld, with its trees, dirt, lakes, and grass, is very well put-together. Not to mention the Lost Woods now has a fog cover for most of the game. Nice, colorful, and atmospheric, I'd say the graphics here are flawless for a 16-bit game.
The sound of a sword slashing an enemy has never been so satisfying. Classic is the best word for the sound effects here, they're almost comical. I honestly couldn't have picked better sounds for this game if I tried, they mesh with the environment so perfectly well.
The music is also classic. Many of the themes in this game have since been used in modern Zelda games, such as the Hyrule Castle theme. The Zelda overworld theme we all love so much is present as well, in good quality, too. Aside from the triumphant songs you'll see in so many Zelda games, you get some dark and eerie ones as well. It's clear that Miyamoto put some effort into his choices of music for this game, as is rightfully so. A great soundtrack for a great game.
As if the controls for the first Zelda weren't smooth enough, they're even better here. You move using the D-Pad, but now you can move diagonally, not just in two dimensions. This really helps when you're trying to avoid enemies, and takes away the frustration that plagued the beginning of the first Zelda game. The B button uses the sword (may I add that unlike in the first game, you actually slash with it, as opposed to just stabbing like in the first two games?). If you hold down the B button, the blade will start to flicker a bit, and when that happens, you can release B to unleash a spin attack. You can still move while charging the blade, which is a huge help.
The Y-button uses an item you may have collected along your journey. These items vary, and I'll go over them later, but they're all perfectly self-explanatory to use. As for the A-button, it opens treasure chests, selects items on the menu, and can unleashed a dash attack once you get the Pegasus boots. The X-button opens up the map.
Overall, I really can't find a single flaw with the controls in this game. It's kind of hard to mess them up to begin with, but that's the whole beauty of an overhead-view adventure game.
Adventure ho! This game does a great job of making you feel like you're exploring, with a vast world, plenty of enemies, and treasures to find. These treasures include Rupees, which are Hyrule's form of currency, and weapons. Some of the weapons are from the first game, like the boomerang (it stuns enemies), the bow and arrow (self explanatory), and bombs (blow up walls/enemies). There are plenty of new ones as well, such as the mallet, which pounds In stakes, magic rods that use fire and ice elemental attacks, and my favorite are the medallions. These don't come in until much later in the game, but when they do, you're on top of the world when you can cause Earthquakes, massive explosions, and blizzards to kill or cripple all the enemies on the screen.
A big, BIG improvement from the first Zelda is that it's not nearly as cryptic. What I mean is, in the first game there were many moments where it would be very difficult to find what you were supposed to do, such as a moment where you had to use a candle to burn down a random bush in order to access one of the main dungeons. All of that's gone now, for the most part. It can be difficult to find some of the optional weapons, but that's the whole beauty of it: you feel like a treasure hunter/explorer/adventurer/whatever. If you don't want to, no worries, none of the main dungeons are hidden, and the map clearly indicates where they are.
Speaking of the map, that's another feature this game has that the original didn't. In the first game, your map was just a grey box with an indicator of where you were. It was the bare minimum of what you could call a map. Here, however, you get a full-scale, well-drawn map. Another huge advantage this game has, seeing as how easy it was to get lost in the first game.
The difficulty curve is perfect. No longer do you have to practice a lot before you can get anywhere, but it starts off simple and gets gradually harder. The game focuses on the fun aspect more so than the difficulty, without ruining either. That's a great accomplishment.
Overall, this game molds together as a wonderful experience. Enjoyable, challenging, and with plenty of treasure to find.
This is one of the greatest gifts given to us by the Super Nintendo. Thank you, Miyamoto, for making this masterpiece for gamers everywhere. It's a must have for any SNES collector. Even if you don't usually like Zelda games, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one.
This is ShadowACS, signing off. :P
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/10
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (US, 04/13/92)
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