The Legend of Zelda series has been around since I was a kid and, although I have enjoyed the series for the most part, the title that has always stood out as my favourite of all time was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  When the sequel, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was announced, I was super excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this title. Finally, I have and put it through the ropes and see how it matches up against A Link to the Past along with any improvements that new technologies can bring to the game.

Zelda ALBW Screen (11)Obviously there are going to be comparisons between the two games as A Link Between Worlds is a sequel, so I may refer to the previous title, but will do my best to not make too many.  Right off the bat I need to point out that, even though it is a sequel, you don’t have to play A Link To The Past to understand what is going on as the story stands alone and only refers to the previous title in passing. Characters will refer to it as an event that happened many years ago where a hero came to help them when they were in need. However, playing the previous title will definitely help you in knowing the landscape and in some cases aid you when you are stuck and wondering where to go next.

Speaking of the landscape, it has received a whole lot more polish, vibrancy and, of course, some updated graphics. They built on the world that was previously created and made subtle changes all the while keeping it as the world many have come to love and, hopefully a new generation will too. The art style of the game continues with an Anime feel and throws in a mix of Piccaso-esque imagery with one of Link’s new abilities that we will touch on a bit later.  The 3D gameplay is something I generally don’t use as I am one of the people out there who get headaches from 3D gaming and movies so I steer clear of it, but I did turn it on for a few minutes to check it out. Gamers who do enjoy the 3D functionality should be happy with how the world gets the extra depth to it as it wasn’t something just tossed in at certain parts of the game.

Zelda ALBW Screen (5)The audio portion of the game is all quite familiar as it sticks with the Legend of Zelda adventuring music that has been a part of every single Zelda title in some shape or form.  The sound effects are great as you slice your sword into enemies, the swishing of the boomerang flying through the air or a hook shot slinking along as it bulls you towards your destination. All these tiny little sound effects combined with the great score of adventuring music creates an amazing musical atmosphere that I just adore.

The meat and potatoes of any Zelda game is the combat and, of course, the puzzles that nag you as you try to fall asleep at night.  The combat has not changed at all from A Link to the Past on the surface with using your sword being mapped the B button and your other items that you can use in your combat/puzzle solving adventures being mapped to the buttons of your choice.  One change to the combat equipping is that you will eventually be able to do some quick changes with the items so that you don’t have to pause every single time to equip a certain item. It can become really annoying in particularly tasking dungeons that require multiple tools to solve a puzzle.  The other change in the game that had a significant impact to me, but, to others may seem quite minor is that you can only move Link around with the circle pad but if you have played Link to the Past, like myself, it may have taken you awhile to not use the d-pad which, in this title, is used to move the camera positioning slightly so that you can see just a bit more of the map. It did take some time to get used to, but, after I did, it worked perfectly fine.

The puzzle aspect of Zelda is something that I have always enjoyed and they are just as challenging this time around, but, at the same time a whole lot easier. What I mean by that is you are introduced to a character named Ravio who sets up shop in your home quite literally opening a rental store for you to rent all the items you will need to complete any of the puzzles in the game.  How the rental works is: you pay X amount for the item and you have it until your untimely demise where Ravio will repo it from your still warm corpse.  This is a great departure from previous titles as you would go around the world from area to area searching dungeons and caves for all of these items to further yourself into the game. This time around all you have to do is grind for some rupees and rent what you need. Later on in the game you do get the option to outright purchase the item where it stays with you forever, but I hardly saw the point when all you have to do is save often and restart the game after you die and retrace your steps to get back to where you were in the game. With this gameplay crutch, so to speak, it doesn’t take away from how enjoyable the puzzles are and the time spent trying to figure everything out and unlocking all of the areas in the game. Certain items are upgradeable by finding these hidden areas where you will find new armour, ore and even your life is upgradeable with the trusty heart containers scattered throughout the realms.

Zelda ALBW Screen (6)Now, I haven’t talked much about the storyline except for a few parts as I try not to ruin it for people wanting to dive into the game and learn it all for yourself.  *Minor spoilers head folks!* However, it starts off with Link being sent off to deliver a sword to the Captain of the Guard and from that point on the adventure unfolds and thrusts Link into a series of events that leads him to a point in the game where he is turned into a painting. Yes, a painting, which, in most circumstances, would spell out doom but not for our hero. He happened to acquire a special item that allowed him to move in his painting form. This, in turn, allows Link to travel on flat surfaces as a painting allowing him to reach hard to get places usually unavailable to him. This is a puzzle changer as it now incorporates this new mechanic for Link into puzzle solving and adds a whole new dimension in how you approach certain puzzles. This new ability also grants Link the ability to go through dimensional cracks in between Hyrule and another world called Lorule.  With that minor spoiler I do have to say I enjoyed the story for what it was but it is nothing I would say was enthralling like some of the great stories told in video games these days.

No game is perfect but this title comes near close with my only wish for this title being that items rented be acquired through searching the realms for them rather than what I found to be an easy way out through rental/purchasing.   This was probably in attempt to make the game more accessible to gamers who aren’t used to more challenging titles, but in my opinion takes away from what Zelda is. In end though I think The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a must buy for any 3DS owner looking to continue their journey as Link or as their introduction equally.

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About the Author

John has been a gamer for years and can often be heard reminiscing of the old days playing the Nintendo family of systems with his buddies growing up. With a bustling family of five, finding time to game is often tricky but luckily his family shares his passion for gaming. John is active in several gaming communities and can be found on Twitter and Xbox Live as JohnnyXeo.