Review by BimmyandJimmy
"One of the best 2D Zelda games to date."
It's that time, once again, to take my Zelda medicine (and you thought I've forgotten about it didn't you?), but to hell with one Zelda game. This time around, I'm going to subject myself to play TWO incredibly popular Zelda games, since if I keep going at the pace I'm setting myself, I'm never going to finish them by the turn of this decade. To hell with that, I'm saving myself the pain and mental anguish.
Speaking of pain, A Link to the Past is full of it BUT in both a good way and a bad way. In fact, I'm going to just come out and just say this game is pretty damn game good. Yep, I'm actually not joking. In fact, I'll actually go out on a limb and just say that this is probably one of the best Zelda games that you will ever play, right next to the kick ass Zelda game Links Awaking, which is my own personal nomination for most underrated game of all time.
So what can I say about A Link to the Past. While the game was entertaining for the most part, this game also has its fair share of annoyances as well, which overtime built up in such frustration that jeopardized some of the games sense of overall joy.
So, if you're like any other gamer out there, I bet you know the main functions and story of the Zelda games, and this game is really no different. That being said, despite the real lack of story (not that many games in 1991 had involving stories to begin with), for what's present, this game's story is actually rather clever. This time around, you control Link to rescue seven sages from the evil clutches of Ganon, who imprisoned them in dungeons in what is know as the Sacred Realm, or simply just Dark Land, which Ganon has invaded and using to breed a unstoppable, deadly army to break a seal the sages created long ago to take control of the Light land, or Hyrule. Phew, everybody got that? I don't know why I like it so much seeing most if its just you're typical Zelda story line; maybe because it gives sort of a dark undertone, no pun attended, that the series lacked at the time.
Still, much like the first game, this games sense of direction is rather annoying. To be fair, unlike the first Zelda outgoing, this game actually has a world map screen that you can use with relative ease, showing the entire topography of the land and each and every building. That's great and all, but the prime example that I found in this game are the small, little secretive items that you must obtain just to just enter an actual dungeon or a building with hardily any hints or any kind of explanation to find out were they are.
I know what you're thinking, though. Isn't the whole point of an adventure game too look around the world until you actually find something to spark some level of progress? Well ya, that fine and all, but in all honesty, wondering aimlessly for hours around the map looking for a specific item just to keep the game moving isn't fun.
To be fair though, wandering aimlessly and screwing around the over-world map can actually be rather entertaining for a while. Much like the first Zelda game, the map is covered with secrets to find and hidden items that increase the power of your weapons. Unlike the original game however, A Link to the past will not make you wonder around looking for stock items for hours upon end, a problem that plaque the first game constantly. This game is extremely generous when it comes to obtaining rupees and items, so much so that reaching the maximum limit will only take what seems like a half to one hour, depending on where you look on the map screen. It just feels unnoticeable. Still, you're going to need every last single rupee in the game to beat it, because much like the first game, the items are ridiculously overpriced. Thankfully, the price to rupee' ratio is nice and balanced; the prices are not something to worry about, thank god.
Speaking of fixed game design, the dungeons in this game are a HUGE improving over the first game. Gone are the days of monochromatic colors and lack of variety in the level construction. These dungeons are interesting, varied and overall were really fun to just explore and find each and every secret treasure for the most part that is.
What do I mean? The enemies are incredibly annoying; especial those who shoot projectile which home on you, or enemies that easily seem to quickly move and bump into you with relative ease. Again, it's a minor annoyance, but it happens so often that it's just becomes obnoxious and anger inducing, something which I seem to have no patients for. The worse part about these dungeons are that once you find all the secrets and are ready to fight the main boss, you still have to fight you way through hoards of enemies who will constantly bud into you and drain your life in seconds. Keep in mind, there are no warps to take you to the midway point to bypass truckloads of enemies in order to reach a boss. This means that if you were to die when fighting the boss, you have to start all the way from the beginning of the level, all over again, constantly forcing you to repeat this damn pattern: loose a lot of health fighting bad guys, die fighting the boss, rinse and repeat. The only sure way to beat the bosses in this game is to buy an endless amount of potions and fairies (or as the game strangely spelt them, faeries) in order to make up damage that the enemies take away from you. Ya, some game design this is. It's ridiculous.
Also, another thing that ticks me off is that saving you progress in the dungeons is, for the most part, pointless. Unlike the later games, it doesn't matter how many times you solve a puzzle, you will eventually have to solve it again once you leave that room. The absolute worst thing I hate about this game's save feature is that no matter how far you get in a dungeon, if you save and quit the game, you will not start in the dungeon that you are in. Instead, you start from these pre-determined first screens on the world map, meaning that you have to walk ALL the way back just to complete a dungeon. Why? Why not just make it so that when you save and quit you start at the beginning of the dungeon itself? What were they thinking?!
Controlling Link in this game is without a doubt improved dramatically from the first game. This time around, even though you can only attack in four directions, you can actually move diagonal, making avoiding enemies far easier and skillful. Not only that, but he actually swings his sword instead of just stabbing things. It just feels wonderful.
Artistically speaking, while the game's over-world has an advance topography and nice varied geography, the games overall color pallet and texturing just seems to be lacking, and in ways, its feels rather corny. For most of the objects on the over-world screen, such as things like the trees, they look so goofy, its ridicules. Its like programmer went into to MS paint and drew them up in a matter of seconds and placed them all over the game. Luckily, the dark world graphics are far detailed than the light world. While they might not be as atmospheric as other games in this series, the design is bold and colorful enough to ensure a fun and interesting background.
The game has a fair selection of songs that give the game some sense of pace. The only real problem I found is that the developers didn't create separate themes for the dungeons, repeating the same old theme over and over again until it just burns into your head. It's still a rather interesting theme, but damn, can it get rather annoying after a while. The classic Zelda theme is also present, updated to meet the quality of the Super Nintendo, as well other new songs which sound great for the area they occupy. Much like the dungeons theme, again, after a while, they too might become a challenge to listen as they seem to just drone on in your head. Actually, speaking of recycled audio, the sound effects in A Link to the Past are ripped right out of Super Mario World. Literally, each sound is right out of that game and shoved into this one like the hog it is. How cheap is that?
Still, A Link to the Past, while it is rather dated in my opinion, the game is still rather enjoyable to play again, to an extent. It's a good game, but don't expect to be wowed by it either.
Oh and by the way, I love how the bosses explode when you beat them. Boom, bit**.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/11/11, Updated 06/27/11
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (US, 04/13/92)
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