Review by RABicle

"Every element comes togethor perfectly"

The Zelda series is one of the worlds most successful and popular role playing adventure series. The man behind the games, Shigeru Miyamoto, is one of the most respected and influential game designers in the history of video games.
Over time the Zelda series has evolved but it continues a similar pattern; two similar games then one huge step forward, another game similar to the revolutionary one and then another step forward. The original Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time were the titles that made the huge step forward in the series and these three games had an impact on the future of gaming.

The Impact:
A Link to the Past (or LttP) changed the face of gaming. Not only did the title show the gaming community what the SNES was capable in the field of visuals but it showed people how to tell a magnificent tale without turning the game into a linear experience. (Final Fantasy anyone?) The game also reminded us that, yes, we do like to explore to our hearts content by providing a game that had many sprawling miniature quests that didn’t have to be completed. But most of all the game reminded us that it’s the little, special touches that make a good game great.

Style all the Way
The visuals in LttP are top class all the way. From the cute little animations of the characters in the game to the outstanding attention to detail in the sanctuary. Nintendo bring all sorts of charm and life to LttP’s visuals, making good use of the SNES hardware. The visuals just are of a good quality all round and make it very clear what every thing is because of the games surprising detail. Special mention goes to the Lost Woods area which makes excellent use of the SNES’s transparency effects and the mode 7 scaling when viewing the map close up.
It may not have the high polygon counts, pre-rendererd screens, particle effects, MIPMAPPING, facial animations etc. of it’s Nintendo 64 counterpart but LttP has clear cut, understandable visuals with a nice style and good use of colour. Everything a SNES game needs. And the frame rate? 60 frames per second, only slowing down when the chickens declare war on you.

Trendsetting Tunes
The music perfectly suits the game and sets the mood well. They are not of outstanding quality or catchy like Chrono Trigger but as I said before they set the mood of the game. There's this sort of mysterious and treating music when your inside a dungeon, while the music when your wandering around Kakiroko (spelt wrong) Village is more of a gentle relaxing tune. And of course there is the classic Zelda theme.
The music doesn’t dominate the game by being excessively loud it just quietly plays in the background and you may just find yourself humming along. It’s quiet, trendsetting and does it’s job. While the music does a great job, the same cannot be said about the sound effects which are of poor sampling rate and it seems as though some of worst sound effects are used too much and seem to be used for all sorts of situations. This piss poor sort of twirly mystical sound is used for all sorts of events and it sounds really stupid. There really aren’t that many sound effects either but the twirly mystical sound is easily the worst.

Adventuring at it’s Greatest
For those of you here that have played any installment of the Zelda series then you would know that there are very few games out there that are anything like the Legend of Zelda series, which is why it’s a very hard game to classify. For those of you have have never experienced any Zelda game or LttP in particular then I’ll try to explain it for you.
The main concept of the game is that you are Link, a young Hylian who has to save his home land of Hyrule by collecting some sort of artifact that magically brings peace to the whole world once they have been all collected. These collectables are found at the very end of dungeons, scattered around the land and are guarded by big ugly monsters. Once you have all of these you then go off and kill some big pig named Ganon and save Zelda to live happily ever after.
Well, at least that was the premises for the first game which was really a simple action game that did nothing except change the face of gaming forever. LttP really shows that the series has grown up a lot since the original. LttP has an epic storyline with a back story that spans many years. As well as the main plot of rescuing maidens and collecting pendants and crystals there are many side stories such as the tale of Blind and his gang of thieves and the sad story of the boy who played the flute.
But what really sets Zelda apart from the norm is the fact that you roam around a large play area or world that is total exploration. Your not restricted to a path between areas or one route though the whole game, you literally can go anywhere by many different means of getting there. along the way to your target location you will traverse though many different landscape features and enemies. What also encourages you to explore is as you progress though the game you begin to pick up useful items such as the Power Glove that allows you to lift heavy rocks, unlocking new paths and secrets, each with their own rewards. A player who simply goes straight to each dungeon without bothering to notice anything along the way will find the going hard as there are many items and heart containers that can only be found by the player who seeks them out by listening to the townsfolk, following clues and trying many different ways to interact with the environment.
For example a man in the village talks about the Zora being able to turn people into fish! Once you investigate you find that they don't turn people into fish but they have valuable flippers for sale, allowing you to swim. Upon purchasing the flippers you talk to another man who speaks of a great lady at the waterfall of wishing. After exploring an area with many waterfalls you find that you have swam right though one and are standing i a cave on the other side. The cave has a pond in it in which you can though any of your item in. By throwing in an item a great fairy appears who asks you if you threw it in. Regardless of what you say she’ll return the item to you but if you fiddle around you’ll discover that if you throw in your shield she’ll reward your honesty by replacing it with a bigger, red shield. The red shield is usually bought for 500 rupees but you acquire it for FREE! There is also another improved item you gain from the fairy but I’ll let you figure that out for yourself. This is just one example of excessive exploration and investigation in the game.
Now at the beginning of this review I said that LttP reminded people that it’s the little touch that make the big difference. What are some of these little things? The way that you become a fugitive and numerous townsfolk will call for soldiers, run inside and lock the door when they see you. Or the way that when you enter the dark world you meet a demon and a pink ball who ask why you have turned into a rabbit (know one else knows why either). Or the way the chickens attack you if you repeatedly harm a chicken. Little touches like these make all the difference, you don't notice it but it shows that the game designers put a lot of thought into the game not just throw together some pictures and controls.
The dungeons are one of LttP’s high points, there are a total of 10 dungeons plus Ganon's Tower and 2 mini dungeons; Pyramid of Power and Hyrule Castle, giving the game 13 dungeons in all. Each dungeon is unique and they all gradually increase in difficulty as the game continues. Unlike other role-playing games where the dungeons consist of a fairy linear path with randomly encountered enemies to fight until you work your way up to a boss, Zelda’s dungeons are huge, multi-story interactive mazes with clever puzzles, traps and a range of well designed enemies. Each dungeon in the game basically consists of many rooms with puzzles and challenges that might open up a door or give you a key to a locked door in another room, a master key that opens up the boss room and opens a big treasure chest containing a big important item. Each dungeon is a decent challenge (some more so) and are very interactive. There are crystal switches, weak sections of wall and floor, pots, push able blocks, holes in the floor which when dropped down have you land on the floor below, teleport tiles etc. All of these are interactive which help the puzzles to become much deeper with numerous ways to be overcome.
There are many parts of the game that I haven't touched yet but this is because it is such a huge, deep game that their is simply not enough room to talk about everything, without spoiling this masterpiece of a game. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an amazing game that wasn’t made to be played, but to be experienced.

Epic is an Understatment
This game is enormous, you wouldn't think it's possible to fit so many hours of gameplay in a comparitively small gameworld. As mentioned above, there are a huge amounts of dungeons and sub-dungeons that make up the main quest. However, with the huge number of side quests, characters to interact with and secrets to uncover, you can almost forget about the main goal and interact with the world. As a whole though, the length of this game argubly surpasses Majora's Mask and Ocarina of Time. Basically, this game is long, hard, fun, and addictive.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the most rewarding gaming expirences you'll ever have. When this comes to Game Boy Advance it will take the world by storm.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/05/02, Updated 07/05/02

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