Review by Version 2

"A link to the past."

When I first started up Four Swords, I was pretty impressed. The File Select menu was pretty darn spiffy, and so was the music. So, scoffing at the pessimistic naysayers, I selected the main game, A Link to the Past. The name couldn’t be more aptly chosen.

The story starts with a brief explanation of Hyrule’s history and current state of affairs; apparently, an evil Warlock is kidnapping the female descendants of the wizards who sealed the Triforce to claim it for his own. When you wake from your dream, you hear a voice that allegedly belongs to princess Zelda, the last descendant, calling for help and see your dad leaving, sword in hand. Being the typical teenager (or adult, the graphics don’t really permit, but its unlikely an adult lives with his dad. Speaking of which, there’s only one bed in the house…) you ignore your dad’s order to stay home and venture out into the stormy night to begin your adventure. When you reach the castle, you find your dad dying from a mortal wound. Giving you his sword, he dies as you dance in glee.

The core element of A Link to the Past is your ability to transverse between the Light World and the Dark World. They’re both set in fundamentally the same area, but the Dark World is vastly decayed and reeks with the stench of evil and broken dreams. LttP didn’t have a grand story, but it’s atmosphere and ambience is why most players fondly remember Nintendo’s classic.

At first glance of the poorly rendered world-map and its pseudo-3D environment in the opening, it would appear that nothing was change. Indeed, even the music was reminiscent 1991 Nintendo. Now, you’re probably expecting me to put aside your worries and sooth your anxiety, but nothing has changed. That might be a bit over the top; now Link screams like a girl every time he slashes his sword, there’s a new dungeon, and arrows explode pots. Environments in A Link to the Past are lush and colorful, with designs that don’t strive to be realistic but still detailed. The graphics are good, yes, but nothing awe-inspiring (Downright lackluster next to the side game ‘Four Swords). Hell, they couldn’t even give A Link to the Past a revamped title screen.

The audio sect of ‘Link to the Past is, like its graphical brethren, passable but not excelling if you have played the original on the Super Nintendo. If you haven’t, worry not. However, earplugs might be a good investment while playing the game. As aforementioned, the music’s nice, but whenever your health goes into the critical camp expect to have it announced by a Banshee with hiccups. I haven’t played Four Swords yet, due to lack of companions owning a copy, but from the audio segment I’ve heard its superior to the Super Nintendo rehash. Nonetheless, the music is tense when the occasion calls for it, adventurous whilst exploring, and timid in the game’s secluded dungeons.

As you transverse the lands of Hyrule, you’ll do battle with the enemies of evil, wielding your father’s sword. The core fighting element is the normal slash (featuring a screaming elf) and the charged slash (featuring a screaming elf spinning with his sword). The bosses are where Nintendo mixes it up. Some will require you to reflect their shots back at them (via a shield you obtain later), meticulously drop bombs along their path, or pummel certain body parts only after shocking them with your boomerang; all the battles take place in real time. The game’s puzzles are simple, but not to the degree of aggravation, just like the rest of the gameplay. Along your journeys you’ll receive new items and weapons that allow you to explore previously inaccessible areas, such as the Hookshot and Power Glove.

I’m still torn between what I should rate this game, unfortunately. A Link to the Past definitely is a great game, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s essentially a port of an eight year old game. If you have yet to play A Link to the Past, or time has dulled your remembrance, you should unquestionably pick up this game for the Gameboy Advance. People who were just playing LttP last week on their computer need not bother, unless the idea of a handheld Zelda appeals to you.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/03/02, Updated 12/03/02

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