"Funny how a title from 1991 still remains as one of the best games ever made."

Personally, I don't even think it's a contest that Link to the Past is by far the best Zelda title in the entire series. And if Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6 did not exist, it would also be the best game on the Super Nintendo. The thing I find intriguing is that all these years after the game's initial release, it still stands well against any game it goes up against. It is honestly that damned good.

Story

Being a Zelda title, the storyline is very traditional. Ganon has kidnapped Princess Zelda again, and it is up to a little kid known as Link to take the giant pig down, save Zelda, and restore peace and order to the land of Hyrule. But Link to the Past goes beyond the basic outline a bit. In the introduction, you learn that a dark wizard named Aghanim has tricked the king of Hyrule into allowing Aghanim to assist the kingdom. He does so by capturing the girls necessary to open a path between the Light and Dark Worlds in the game. Meanwhile, Ganon is building up his power in the Dark World so that he may finally assault the Light World once the path is opened.

But much of this is a simple extension from what we have seen before. Link is the descendant of the Hylia who is able to stop the forthcoming events from taking place, but he of course must find the Master Sword first. All this being said, Zelda games have always been about the gameplay, and Link to the Past has a gameplay value that makes it one of the greatest games ever.

Gameplay

The gameplay and replay value that this game possesses puts it head and shoulders above nearly everything else. If you've read my review for Ocarina of Time, you would know that my biggest complaint with that game is that it is nothing more than a three dimensional version of Link to the Past. But Link to the Past, having been the game to come up with all of the ideas in the first place, is far better in its presentation.

Look first at the actual controls themselves. They come so naturally that even someone who has never played a Zelda title in their life will be able to pick the game up and play it easily play it. Controls are the most important part of a game. If the game is not playable, then it fails. Plain and simple. Link to the Past does not have this problem at all. It is one of the easiest games out there to control, which only serves to suck you in even more.

The game also does something that I have rarely seen. It holds true to the traditional format of the series while managing to add new features to make a legendary title. In the original Legend of Zelda, the entire game was simply a screen by screen adventure. Link to the Past goes far beyond this. Some screens simply cover the screen, while others stretch far beyond the area covered by your TV set. This allows the game to be both fun and difficult. And speaking of which, this game is hard. If you don't know exactly what you're doing, you could spend literally hours trying to figure out what to do or where to go. But despite some other title in which this is a bad thing, such is not the case with Link to the Past. Link gets such a myriad of items and powerups in this title that half of the fun is figuring out where and when to use them, and this is just on the world map. The dungeons in this game present a whole new slew of puzzles to solve while at the same time trying to avoid or kill every enemy in the book. By now, everyone knows about the Hookshot, the Ocarina, Bottles, and all of the other fun things that appear in Zelda titles. A good portion of those items got their start in Link to the Past.

And it gets even better. The big complaint with Ocarina of Time was that the game was too easy. The same goes for The Wind Waker. Majora's Mask was a decent game, but it didn't have enough dungeons. But what about Link to the Past, you ask? No such issues, of course. The Zelda series has tried time and time again to regain the magic it had with this title, and it has yet to even come close. The game is long, fun, and difficult. To put this in perspective, there are three Light World dungeons, seven Dark World dungeons, two visits to Hyrule Castle, Ganon's Tower, and the final boss. That's 13 dungeons and a separate area entirely for the final boss. And in every area, you have a difficult trek ahead. Some of the earlier dungeons are not as hard as the later ones, but either way, there are 13 dungeons in this game. That's insane, and it's the way every Zelda game should be. Add in all the items and the difficulty of piecing it all together, and you have a legendary title on your hands. It's also the type of game that leads itself to be played against and again, which is simply not seen from difficult games in today's age.

And also, remember how in Ocarina of Time you had to collect three pendants in the Light World before collecting Medallions to free sages in the Dark World? Replace Medallions with Crystals, and you yet again see something that was done in Link to the Past first; however, it's better in the original.

Music

Despite the same tracks being recycled over and over for dungeons and such, the tracks themselves are quite good. They have to be, considering how long you'll be listening to them.

Graphics

For a game that was released in 1991, the graphics are no issue. Everything is pieced together smoothly, and it needs to be. Considering the puzzles to solve and the speed with which you need to solve some of them, everything must look good and run smoothly. And this game has no problems at all in doing such.

Overall

It is difficult to explain why this game is so good in review; you simply have to play it yourself. But I can assure you that after picking this game up for an hour or two, you will understand. Anyone can see that the game includes things seen in more recent titles, but you need to experience the game that brought out many of these things first. It's more fun in this game than it is in the others, and it's also not as overdone as it is in the others. In the time it takes to play through this game twice, you might still be stuck out on the open sea in The Wind Waker somewhere. This game gets a perfect score, and for good reason. It's easily one of the top five games ever made.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/28/04, Updated 10/29/10

Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (US, 04/13/92)


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