Review by BobtheKeeper

Reviewed: 04/26/06

The so-called "greatest Zelda" doesn't age well...

The so-called "greatest Zelda" doesn't age well... (6/10)
Four Swords is a blast but won't last forever...(8/10)

I'm willing to bet that everyone who calls A Link to the Past the best Zelda game are the ones who played it as their first Zelda. (My first Zelda was Link's Awakening, and I think it is the best Zelda.) Anyone who has played Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Link's Awakening, or the Oracle of Ages/Seasons--before playing this--will find that going back to A Link to the Past is a tedious experience. No doubt when it first came out it was an incredible game, but with so many better Zelda games out now, it is hard to call this one the best.

Having already played all the Zelda games released after it, I was excited to finally play A Link to the Past (ALttP) and see what the big deal was. All this time I've heard hardcore Zelda fans say that the rest of the Zelda games stink compared to ALttP. Indeed, it starts out promising in Hyrule Castle, playing that tune that I'm already familiar with from its reappearance in Wind Waker. But it just went downhill from there. And the Dark World, so often praised as original and cool, just sucked the fun out of it.

I guess I was spoiled with all the Zelda sequels. In ALttP, the first three dungeons (or, "Levels") all have the same boring music. Then, the last five "Levels" all have the same music. That includes the final level. Level 8, Ganon's Tower (I highly doubt that this is spoiling anything), uses the exact same boring music as the four dungeons I've just trudged through. Spending hours solving puzzles in a dungeon makes me sick of the music by the time I'm finished, and when I have to listen to it again in the next dungeon I want to scream. Is it too much to ask that a creepy level called "Misery Mire" have different music than a bright icy level called "Ice Temple"? Or for a labyrinthine cave at the top of a volcano called "Turtle Rock" to have different music from an abandoned city used by thieves? I suppose not, since they all LOOK about the same, too. Music is the most important thing in an epic game like Zelda for creating the atmosphere. I don't see how this Zelda game gripped people back when it came out with such lousy music. I don't see how anyone could still call this the best Zelda.

I have three magical powers: the explosive "Bombos" (easy to remember with such a name), some electrical power, and the earth shaking "Quake". I almost never used them. Every time I met with a tough enemy, I tried using one of these super duper spells, but I saw no effect. Time paused, some flashy stuff happened, I lost a ton of magic, and the unscathed monster then proceeded to pummel me. I eventually gave them up, and only used them when a handy-dandy platform on the ground had the symbol telling me to use a certain spell. That is, once each. Or, did I ever even need to use Bombos at all?
About mid-way through the game you hopefully find the Ice Rod. You never ever use it until the boss of "Level 7." If you didn't happen to get the Ice Rod in its little out of the way place, then it's going to suck when you get to the boss and have no way to beat him.
All the standard Zelda fare is in this game: a bow, bombs, a boomerang, a hookshot, bottles, and more. Occasionally, a dungeon will give you a switch that you can't push and can't just whack with your sword; this is when you use the boomerang, hookshot, bow, or bomb. To make things challenging, sometimes the way forward is hidden by a cracked wall or floor; this is the cue to equip your bombs. The bottles are for holding fairies. Fairies are free, and work automatically; there is never any need to buy potions.
I didn't have the patience to mess around in this Zelda game to get all the stuff, so I looked at a FAQ to find extra junk like the "Magic Cape." With that item, I actually found myself using magic, so I used a FAQ to upgrade my magic meter, or "halve" my magic meter. I knew my magic meter was better because it said '1/2' above it. I didn't know if it was good or bad for some time.

I just didn't feel like trekking through the dull Dark World to find everything, and switching between the Light and Dark world is usually easy but sometimes frustrating. I learned from Metroid Prime 2 that I do not like switching between two worlds, unless I can do it back and forth at any time and place. In Oracle of Ages, a fully upgraded harp let me do just that. Finding a Heart Piece in ALttP didn't excite me as much as in all the other Zelda games. In all the other Zeldas, I tried to find as much as I possibly could before getting help. With ALttP, I was desperate to get it over with and brought up a FAQ as soon as I needed something. It's just an unexciting overworld. It doesn't vary much. The games graphics are good, but it can't have taken the developers long to come up with all of them. Copy...paste...there, Level 3 is ready.

The dungeons showed some good design. I liked the challenges. But, the annoying music that's been repeating in my head for hours and the beeping of my low health drove me to check a FAQ to solve any puzzle as quickly as possible! I play Zelda games to test my ingenuity in the dungeons. ALttP has some good puzzles, even after seeing it all in the later Zelda games. But, I was not motivated to solve them! And, the dungeons offer too many painful traps and pits more appropriate for a Mario game than a Zelda game. The boss battles at the end of each dungeon were usually dull. A giant worm or a blob or an enlarged version of a monster I've already seen. No part of this Zelda offered the thrill of success that the others did because there was no reward. What, like a cool boss, different music, or new plot twist is too much to ask? Link's Awakening was a mystery until the end; it has the best Zelda plot. Ocarina of Time rehashed ALttP except it made it feel epic, with characters, dialogue, plot twists, and yes, changing music! Wind Waker has a huge fantastic epic feel that all games try but fail to reach. Majora's Mask was drenched with beautiful sub-plots. ALttP is the precursor to all of those games, I know that. But hardly ever was there any stuff happening! I expected more! Ganon's final monologue of threats was pathetic after I've seen him in the 3D Zelda games.

It was cool to battle Ganon at the end. No, not the tennis match...that's a boss at the end of "Level 8" and it's not even Ganon. I mean Ganon with a double ax thing. ALttP impressed me with the very beginning and with the very end (battling Ganon). Everything in between seemed very average after playing the other Zelda games.

I just wanted to say that to make hardcore fans angry. I'll say it again: three-dimensional games have proved better than two-dimensional games. Particularly for Zelda.

Fortunately, the rest of the cartridge is filled with a very good multiplayer Zelda experience. I almost completed the quest with a friend of mine. You do four dungeons and then a final boss. The dungeons change around with each play through. Extremely good graphics and music/sound are here, and even with just two people it was a ton of fun to play. Basic items, simple puzzles, and fun battles. But it didn't last forever; the original fun of multiplayer Zelda wore off after a while. And if you can't find a friend with this game, then you can't even play this. Now, Four Swords also has an incarnation on the Gamecube, making this all but irrelevant.

This Zelda gets a 6/10 for me. It's okay. Remember, I'm not giving it a 4 or a 1 and saying it sucks. I'm giving it a 6 and saying it is not good enough for a higher score or to warrant the praise it has received. The game is very repetitive, unrewarding, and left me with an "um, that was okay, I guess" attitude when I beat it. If you've never played ALttP, and you see this rerelease as a golden opportunity to play the so called "greatest Zelda," "greatest game," etc., be warned that it is not very awesome today. After all the praise hardcore fans heap on it, actually playing it will leave you feeling underwhelmed. It's a fun thing to do on the side, so you can say you've played it. The Four Swords is good if you have a friend, but you might consider the now released Gamecube version instead. For the overwhelming experience that Zelda games offer, save your excitement for Twilight Princess.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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