Review by RageBot
"A blast from the past and then some."
The Legend of Zelda truly lived up to its name, being a legendary gaming series that produced nothing but flawless games, time after time after time... once upon a time. The last game I enjoyed every second of was Majora's Mask, and since then, the series has started to slowly but surely crumble, experimenting with control methods nobody wanted, from wiggling the Wii remote to swing your sword in Twilight Princess to the motion controls of Skyward Sword that, while ingenious, often felt forced. Now this game comes in, with a name that relighted the flames of hope in the hearts of many.
A Link Between Worlds returns to the time period of A Link to the Past, a game often considered second only to Ocarina of Time, if not better still. This Link could be the grandson or great-grandson of the previous hero, and as per tradition he oversleeps when Gulley, the blacksmith's son comes to wake him up. He then walks to the blacksmith to train in the art of forging, only to see the captain of the guards forgetting his sword there. His quest leads him to the sanctuary, where he must use the old tunnel used by his grandfather in his great escape from the castle with the princess.
It is there that he meets the new one time only villain. Yuga is an androgynous warrior from Lorule, the new name for the dark world, that sounds like it's taken from a fanfic made by a five years old. He can turn people into paintings, and seeks to eliminate the new descendants of the sages this way, in order to resurrect Ganon yet again. He eventually succeeds, forcing Link to travel to Lorule and save the seven sages.
Link faints after encountering Yuga, and wakes up in his home, only to find a merchant wearing a purple bunny hood has taken residence there. His name is Ravio, and he doesn't sell arrows or bombs. Instead, you'll be able to purchase all items from him, so that for the first time is many years, you can beat the dungeons in any order you want. You can first rent each item for a very small fee, so that you'll lose them when you die, and later on, you can buy the items for good.
While you buy the items outside the dungeons, each dungeon still clearly centers around a single item. There's the "bow dungeon", the "bombs dungeon", the "hookshot dungeon", etc. For some strange reason, the boomerang is completely unnecessary in this game. It's there, but I have not used it even once. All items consume energy, which is a very primitive form of the good old magic bar, but primitive is still leagues better than non existent.
However, the best energy consuming item is a bracelet you receive from Ravio when you first meet him. After the first dungeon, Link encounters Yuga again, and is turned into a painting, but manages to get out of the wall with the help of the bracelet. Link can then turn into a painting freely and roam the walls at the cost of energy. Many, many treasures and secrets can only be reached by merging with the wall, and this is the only gimmick of the game.
While the land is completely the same as A Link to the Past's, and the dungeons are located in the same places, the layout itself is different. The Tower of Hera now requires you to travel on moving platforms and jump up with the aid of special trampolines that activate if you pound them with your hammer. The Swamp Palace has turned into a miniature Water Temple, the Desert Palace consists of many sand based puzzles, and the Ice Ruins (not palace) require you to pull out tongues of statues so that a platform drops further and further down until you can access the boss' lair.
As for exploration and optional stuff, you have a lot to do. Two screens away from Link's house, there is a fountain that hosts no fairy. Instead, it hosts the Mother Maiamai. A hundred children she has, and all are lost. Basically, they are this game's equivalent of the Gold Skulltulas. Finding them is very convenient, as there is a special map that shows how many lost children are left in each section of the world, and they cry when you get near. Most of them are stuck in the walls, and you need to turn into a painting and emerge behind them to knock them off. Others are hiding under bushes and rocks, stuck on top of trees and pillars for you to knock off with the Pegasus Boots, and sunk under the desert sands.
Some old mini-games are back, along with a whole bunch of new ones. There is a race against time which just might be the most difficult mini-game yet in the series. There is Rupee Rush, which is not hard at all if you have a stopwatch. There is a baseball game which has a steep learning curve, but is very fun once you know what to do. Lastly, there is a game which requires you to dodge birds. It's not too hard to get the obligatory Piece of Heart, but you have the option to win a healing cucco if you continue to dodge and dodge for 999 seconds. That's 17 minutes. That is sadistic, and I strongly recommend against trying it.
One last thing to mention is the treacherous tower. It's the name of this game's "Cave of Ordeals". You need only clear 15 stages for the Piece of Heart, but if you go the whole way, which is very hard to do by the way, you earn no less than five thousand rupees, a colossal reward never before received in the series.
Presentation is kept for last, as usual. While the models may not be top notch (Check out Kid Icarus: Uprising for a Nintendo game for the 3DS with top notch graphics), the 3D effect is subtle but effective, and the music now incorporates a full orchestra. Most tracks are recycled from A Link to the Past, just like many things in this game, but there are a few new tracks that are all awesome.
This game has renewed hope for the series, and many people who quit after Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword enjoy this game. I can only hope the Wii U game will be this good, without stupid gimmicks about controls and transportation. All you need is a controller, and all Link needs is his feet, a warp spell, and a horse.
Final grade: 9.4/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/20/14
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (US, 11/22/13)
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