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And now I commit the cardinal sin of Zelda fans: I don't like Link to the Past... As much as a lot of other Zelda games. I mean, just being in the series at all really is a sign of quality to me, I don't dislike any game in the series, and really don't consider any of them worse then "Good". But when the scale begins at "Good" and continues to "Great" "Amazing" and "Greatest game ever", Link to the Past is solidly just in "Good" territory.
I think perhaps my main problem with Link to the Past is I just don't ever feel a ton of reason to care about what's going on. And that's not all the game's fault, there were still plenty of kinks in video game storytelling to be worked out. But take the rescuing of the maidens for instance. Your quest entails you save a number of maidens who are descended from the sages, but who are they as people? They deliver a number of interchangeable expository monologues and except for Zelda, that's it. A few people in the gigantic map have notable personalities and I care about saving Hyrule for them. I like Sahasrahla as a mentor, Zelda herself is fine, Flute Boy's scenes did touch me a little, but I just don't ever care about Hyrule that much. And when this Zelda game is often praised for its story, I can't help but feel like I kind of got the short end of the stick.
My issues are mostly pretty minor, and even a little ironic. The Dark World has a really great atmosphere, but I kind of hate how I have to spend so much time traversing a land so ugly. Same deal with the Dark World dungeons. I get the bleak feeling and the hopelessness motif, but man, I honestly remember so little about most of the later game dungeons, their bosses, anything... Except for Thief Town, with it's awesome twist ending and the ensuing fight. Double points for having a little cool lore to go along with it.
Even having said all that, the game is really more Seinfeld Is Unfunny to me than anything. If I grew up with this one instead of Ocarina of Time, maybe I'd overlook these shortcomings and love the good stuff, such as the the music, combat and crapload of items, even more. Even with a lot of my complaints, it is still a well made game and I do understand all the love it gets. I love it too, just a smidge less than most of its relatives.
The top down, 2d Zeldas were very different games from the 3d Zelda's. While they all have the same elements, the elements that are the focus of the games are different. The main point of the 3d games, and why I like them so much, is their focus on level design, particularly in the dungeons, and puzzle solving. The focus of Zelda 1 and A Link to the Past is exploration and the finding of secrets. Like I said, all of those elements are present in each Zelda, but the 2d and 3d games emphasize them differently.
Before getting into those differences, I have to say that the graphics, sound, and music hold up very well for an early SNES game. A Link to the Past is pleasing on the eyes and ears, and is the source of many a classic Zelda theme.
The focus on exploration and secrets leads to A Link to the Past having the most packed and dense overworld of any Zelda game. There are secrets to find and goodies everywhere, as opposed to the empty Hyrule Fields or Great Seas of later games.
The puzzle solving, however, is very weak compared to later games. Usually I'd refer to the puzzles as just obstacles. The cleverness behind the inventive puzzles of the 3D Zelda games is not there.
Another area where the game falls short is the combat. It is not bad. It is just not as good as in other Zelda games. Link's swords are so small that you have to be ridiculously close to an enemy to hit him with a normal attack even with the master sword. This, combined with the inability to move or turn while using a normal attack, often makes the combat much more frustrating than it needs to be. I have much more fun with the combat in the original Zelda for that reason.
My problem, ultimately, is that I am not into what the game does best. Games all about collection were never my cup of tea, so I tend to focus on the other elements of those games. I know I'm missing the point about A Link to the Past when I complain so much about the combat and the relative quality of the puzzles, but those are the things I like and the things I have come to have high expectations for in Zelda games. While a great game for what it is, A Link to the Past is my second least favorite Zelda game after the horrible Zelda 2, and I believe it is overrated when compared to the later games in the series.
Playing the 3D Legend Of Zelda games, I feel like they've totally changed. You are limited to a small portion of the world at first, gradually increasing to more locations as you complete more dungeons. You often have to stop and solve complex puzzles involving multiple items, slowing down the gameplay. And the combat is very one-on-one much of the time.
It wasn't always like this, and this game shows it. The fact is, the 3D Zelda games are nothing like the 2D ones, other than sharing some elements in common.
What A Link to the Past is, essentially, is a form of top-down Metroidvania. You can go anywhere that you are able to within the parameters of what abilities you have earned, and there is a lot to explore even before you expand your list of abilities. There's a lot of openness in what you can do, lots of side items to search for in your spare time, and a lot of freedom.
What's more, the gameplay moves fast, something which got lost in the transition to 3D. Link moves quickly around the world, fights involve multiple enemies at once and are frantic yet easy to follow, due to the top-down 2D perspective, and the individual locations you visit are fairly small and quick to enter and exit. The world still feels large, but can be navigated quickly - the best of both worlds, in my opinion.
Like most Zelda games, there's a big focus on the dungeons, and you will indeed be spending a lot of time underground in those maze-like environments, exploring, solving mostly minor puzzles (not the heavy brainteasers of the 3D games), and fighting. There's fortunately a lot to do aboveground as well, but as the game goes on, you do spend more time in the dungeons.
Ultimately, A Link to the Past shows how, in some ways, I feel that Zelda has devolved from what made it fun. Unlike the later games, A Link to the Past is refreshingly fast-paced and gameplay-focused. Cutscenes are short, it's possible to do some things - such as some Dark World dungeons - out of order, and the gameplay moves at a fast clip. If the 3D games kept these aspects, I'd like them a lot more.
The Super NES is a system that brought us many great games, and this game is one of them. The third game in the Legend Of Zelda series, this game is a prequel to the two NES titles. The plot is that Link's uncle dies (long story), and leaves him his sword, and Link goes to save Princess Zelda, travel through the Light and Dark worlds, rescue the seven maidens, defeat Aganhim/Ganon, all that good shit.
If you've never played a Zelda game, here's the basic format: it's an overhead adventure game where you defeat enemies with items like a sword, a shield, a boomerang, bow and arrow, and such, and you go through dungeons. Oh, and the plot sometimes advances the gameplay. The control is simple, smooth, and clear; there's no lag, no getting stuck for five minutes behind a rock, nothing, you can just make your way onwards. Whereas the NES Zelda felt rather limited and needed some time to figure things out, this game will let you do practically everything there is to Zelda, and it's nowhere near of a maze as the NES Zelda. The music is also some terrific stuff, from the title screen, to the overworld, to everything in between, thanks to the wonders of Koji Kondo, whose talent in video game music really shows. In fact, going back, I see some music was re-used in Ocarina Of Time.
Perhaps the strangest thing in this game is the "Chris Houlihan Room", a room named for some kid who won a Nintendo Power contest. The room gives you tons of health and rupees.
It's game like these that make me happy. I can just sit down and enjoy it, and since the second I picked it up, it's been embedded into my head as a happy memory. I can't think of one bad thing to say about this game, and that's really something to accomplish. It was later remade to the Game Boy Advance as pretty much the same game, although some things were added, such as voice samples, which [[Your Mileage May Vary may touch some people a little differently than others].
Overall, A Link to the Past is a Zelda game that will thrive for generations to come, and will live on in the hearts of the Zelda fans.
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