Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

Reviewed: 08/21/06

A Classic Remade For Portability

Back in the prehistoric era of video games in the year 1992, there existed a gaming system called SNES – Super Nintendo Entertainment System - the son of NES (Nintendo Entertainment System. In that faithful year in 1992, a game well known to serious video game players was the Zelda games, classics ever since their debut on the NES, was released to the public in America. It was Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: the first Zelda game for 16-bit technology. As its predecessors and progeny were, this game became another classic game to go down in the Hall of Fame of Video Games. The story was awesome, consisting of a boy hero, Link, battling monsters and bosses to save the world Hyrule from forever darkness. The story had plot twists, loopholes that forced a gamer to put two and two together in order to complete the picture, and an ending that wasn’t slapped together in a few hours. The graphics were pristine for an adventure gaming demanding the 16-bit processor technology that existed at the time. Music also game to be a defining feature of the game, as no longer were there droll repetitive music that forced a gamer to turn down the volume. Instead, people would start humming the music, and eventually music soundtracks would follow in the wake of this game and future games. Gameplay, a very important feature of an adventure game, was simplified that most people could enjoy a learning curve that didn’t take half the game to master. And with hours of fun, most people enjoyed that they purchased a game that was worth every piece of the several bucks they spent.

It was such a classic, that why wouldn’t Nintendo look into the future and see that this game would be a big success on a portable console.

And so they did. First game the Gameboy grayscale models, then the 8-bit Gameboy Colors, and finally the Gameboy 32-bit Advance models arrived. It was time to earn some more profit off this classic game.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was ported onto the Nintendo Gameboy Advance in the year 2002, a decade after its original came into existence. While, many of the original players of this game found it a cheap tactic to make easy cash, those who had never played a Zelda game prior N64 era found it a nice way to find entertainment: not only did they know it was a classic, it was now a classic they could play in the car or in the air. Though basically everything is the same as its predecessor, the game has a few tweaks in it, and a totally new game, The Four Swords Adventure. The only problem is that the Four Swords Adventure never become a success because of the cumbersome need to find three other people with three Gameboy Advance systems and three Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past GBA games. And besides this, gamers needed several link cables to join the four Gameboy Advance systems together. The fact that games such as Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past require several hundreds of dollars in order to complete 100% of the game, drastically affect their scores.

Unfortunately, I will be scoring this game as a whole, and not on the fact of just one game. Nintendo created this game so that users must complete the multiplayer aspect to complete the original game as well. Even though a gamer is able to fully complete the story aspect of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, it is not fun when a user be denied access to rooms when they don’t have access to several hundreds of dollars or several friends with the same interest as he. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a classic for the SNES, yet, is it a classic on its remake for the GBA? Sadly, no. Nintendo was unable to live up to the If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it concept, and so, the GBA version remake falls into the shadows of games with potential that failed. Though of the many remakes, despite this failure, it is still a very satisfying game to play over, and over again. Some may argue it’s not as good as those for the Gameboy Color such as Oracle of Ages/Seasons, but as it is a Zelda game, it is worth at least a play through. Compared to portable games that are constantly being released, despite its aged technology, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is still a game that certainly puts severally technologically advance games to shame for its story and its classic style. I have yet to find a Zelda game that I have disliked.

Enough with the background information…onto the review!


Gameplay: 7/10
As all adventure games should be, the gameplay for Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance is very well accomplished. For the layout of the Nintendo Gameboy Advance, the button setup is very logical. Running is easily accomplished with the R-button, and easy access to a “hotkey” command, the A-button, makes it easier to accomplish tasks without opening up the menu box and selecting and item to use. The start command gives you the ability to save, pause, and sleep the game. Sleep makes gameplay extremely awesome, since a gamer can go several hours if necessary without playing the game or worrying about the batteries dieing. If an emergency comes up, the sleep command or the simple button layout, Select-R-L, puts the game into a blank state until all tasks in the real world can be accomplished. This basically nullifies one of the aspects that destroys the gameplay of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in portable terms. If a gamer is in a dungeon and saves the game, a room before the boss, and quits, he has to start back at the beginning of the dungeon, and weave his way through the map again – a grave nuisance. Even with today’s technology, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past possesses an annoying dilemma. Luckily, if you know how to use the sleep function, you can go an entire day (as long as your batteries are almost fully charged), without the game shutting off and having to start at the beginning of the dungeon again. Now how simple is the action style of this adventure game? Very simple I say. To use an item, all a person needs to do is press the A-button if the item is selected. Just make sure you have the item selected by selecting it in the menu option. Talking to people is very simple as well. Just walk up to them and press the A-button to have them start in a conversation. Attacking is just as easy. All a gamer needs to do is press the B-button, and Link will slash his sword. If the user has acquired the Master Sword or higher, the user can charge up the sword for a spinning powerful attack, and with full health, the Master Sword can deliver blast attacks. Magic is also incorporated into the game, adding slight twists to the way a user may play. Conservation of magic power becomes an issue in the game, and until you encounter the bat that gives you double magic, you’ll be on your toes to buying green potions and killing enemies that drop a full magic vial.

The reason the gameplay loses some points is due to the multiplayer aspect of the game: Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords which is a totally new game for the Zelda series. The only problem is that a person has to be very lucky to ever get a chance to play this game. The user must have access to an additional three Nintendo Gameboy Advance systems, an additional three Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for Nintendo Gameboy Advance games, and also have an additional two (three if he doesn’t have a link cable himself) link cables. Such coincidence that his friends have this game as well is unlikely as they will most likely borrow games as he will borrow games off them as well. And the fact that if he doesn’t have access to friends with the required materials, he will need to purchase the other systems, games, and accessories, a total waste of hundreds of dollars that could have easily gone into other games or other systems. Unfortunately, it is not possible to do every aspect of the game if a player can’t complete the multiplayer aspect. There is a Four Swords Dungeon in the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that is kept off limits if a gamer doesn’t complete the multiplayer aspect, and where’s the fun it that. While Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords is an excellent multiplayer game, the reason that access to it is so hard or expensive, that the possibilities of playing it are very rare to none.

Story: 8/10
As it is a classic story for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, so is it for the portable Nintendo Gameboy Advance. Even though in contemporary terms, the story may be viewed as cheesy or overused, the fact that it was one of the first games to incorporate such a story makes it original, and thus a classical story. The story starts off on a rainy night, and your mind intercepts to the pleas from Princess Zelda. Your uncle goes off to investigate, but soon you follow. After searching, you find your uncle mortally wounded, and you must follow the path and rescue Princess Zelda. Though you fail in the beginning, you go on an epic adventure, fighting numerous enemies and bosses to uncover the hidden place of the maidens and Princess Zelda which hold the keys to the Golden Power and the Triforce. At first you must find three crystals to unlock the Master Sword in order to reach a Wizard under the control of Ganondorf. After you get the Master Sword though, the fun is only starting. After cracking the puzzles of a basically easy dungeons, you are then drawn into the dark world where you must crack the mazes of eight large dungeons where the puzzles can sometime get tricky, yet with a steady mind, can be solved. With each dungeon you conquer, another piece of the story is unraveled, and eventually, when you reach the final dungeons, the story is very relaxing to read after conquering a mind boggling dungeon or boss that requires more than a mere whack here and there.

Now the story of the Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords is nicely touched as well, even though it is just a multiplayer game. Vaati, guardian of the wind, has captured Princess Zelda. Yet, bringing her back is going to require more than just your solo hero adventure. With the power of the sword, you separate into four beings with four combining with the mind of one, you will conquer Vaati. Basically, your goal is save Princess Zelda and defeat Vaati, yet there are hidden quests as well. You must attempt to gain as many rubies as possible throughout the quest, as the fairies will reward the user with the most rubies. At the end of the game, you receive a medal for the completion of the multiplayer game, which will give you access to the Four Swords Dungeon, another dungeon in the Pyramid of Power in the Dark World of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Graphics: 6/10
Graphics are not really the strong point of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System’s port of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past to the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. The fact that the SNES is a 16-bit unit, while the portable GBA is a 32-bit system, requires changes. While the graphics of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past were well-suited of the SNES 16-bit processor, there needed to be a change when it switched up into the GBA with twice the graphical power. Yet, there was none. The graphics are the same, and a player feels empty that such a powerful system that could emulate Super Mario 64 couldn’t possibly demand better for Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It is the end of these 2-dimensional look down screens, it is time for a new era in the way portable system games take. At least they could have added cutscenes, cinematics, and different perspective images, but no, they did not. The port asked for more, but didn’t receive anything.

The graphics on The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords, though gets a slight better remark. They are better, they aren’t as cheesy, and they are more livid. I have spent several minutes admiring the introduction of The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords just to wonder why Nintendo couldn’t have at least attempted to tune up the graphics of the port.

Sound: 8/10
The sound is exactly the same as it was from its days ten long years ago, yet, it is still just as good. There are many classic songs that have you humming them several days after beating the game, and sometimes you may go back to a certain scene just to here a music clip that you enjoyed. Of course, with the porting of the game, I demand more. Sometimes the game has many repetitive spots that need to be redone with some different music. It has been ten years since its release, and many new songs have been introduced to the several new Zelda games. They could have at least included some of those into the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance to give it more of a contemporary style with the same classic story.

Replayability: 8/10
Replayability is definitely a bonus on this game. With over 10 dungeons to go through, and an epic world map to explore, this game surely takes several teens of hours to complete. Of course, it may be simple to complete it quickly, but it for a gamer who wants to do it the diligent way, may more hours can be enjoyed. At the end of the game, the amount of deaths you accumulated throughout the course of the game is tallied. The first time I played this game, I had a very huge death count – probably in the forty’s or fifty’s, but then I learned. I played the game again, and this time I achieve the famed 000 score. This game earns more respect for the fact that a gamer can be actually rewarded for not dieing as opposed to several games which don’t care how many times a player dies. It can be frustrating at times, but that’s the reason for a great game: to make a user think critically, instead of like a drone. Though you may put this game away for several months after completing it, once you pick it up again, it is time to play the game again to better understand the story, the actions, and the creation.

Using my rating system for Gameboy Advance Adventure Games:
30% Gameplay, 25% Story, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 20% Replayability

Overall Game Rating: 7.3

OVERALL RATING: 7/10 – Decent
Suggested Action: Borrow this game, if you can.

Final Comments: Though a great game, it is not a necessary one to try. If you have never played the Super Nintendo version of this game, then I suggest you try it out to get the actually feel of a Zelda game that actually laid the foundation for future Zelda games. Sure you had the Zelda games for the NES, but this one actually instilled the foundation for hardcore Zelda users to salivate for every upcoming Zelda game. There are several better Zelda games such as those for the Gameboy Color, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, and even Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap for Gameboy Advance. It is hard for a port to successfully establish itself as a classic, because it can never be a classic. There are several better games out there currently, and I find that it would be a shame that you don’t try the Nintendo DS games, which are in many ways superior to this game. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past will be remembered on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and will only be a wrinkle in the memory on the Gameboy Advance in gaming history.


Rating:   3.5 - Good

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