A Link Between Worlds is the first completely new Legend of Zelda game since Skyward Sword on the Wii (all the other games since Skyward have been remakes of older games), and for those fans of the series who have been playing it long enough, it’s a sequel to A Link to the Past for SNES, and takes place in the same game world. I don my green cap, take up the Master Sword, and head into the land of Hyrule to see how many rupees we can dig up.
As mentioned, A Link Between Worlds is the sequel to A Link to the Past set around six generations later, and as such, draws upon its predecessor for much of its inspiration, including the artwork, the top-down view, the music, the concept of two worlds, etc. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In A Link Between Worlds, Link is set the task (again) of saving the world (again) from Ganon (again). (Ed: The story doesn’t really change much between Zelda games, does it?) The concept of two worlds returns here as with many Zelda games, with Hyrule’s counterpart being Lorule. Lorule is the shadow-world to Hyrule, and friendly rocks are replaced by less friendly skulls, delightful flowers replaced with evil flowers, and so on. Early on in the story, Link gains the ability to become a 2D painting and plaster himself against all sorts of walls with the same kind of gleeful abandon as a three year old flinging multi-coloured gobs of paint (or toothpaste, if your three year old is anything like mine was), and this is the chief focus of many of the game’s platforming puzzles. And boy are there puzzles!
It’s genuinely refreshing to see a game break from its past so well, and yet stick to it so cleanly. In past Zelda games, the pacing and progression of the game ran according to a fairly standard and routine sequence: get initial sword, start game, get first item, get to first dungeon, defeat boss using just-acquired-item, get new item, use new item to open up the next dungeon, wash, rinse, repeat until Ganon, pretty much because Legend of Zelda. A Link Between Worlds breaks this beautifully by allowing you access to all the dungeons from the start (well, almost), to all the items and weapons from the start (again, almost), and then lets you decide which order you’d like to complete the game in barring one or two dungeons. It’s almost sandboxy, if a Zelda game can be called sandbox.
If all this weren’t enough for you, sidequests aside (and there are a good few of them, as well as a number of minigames to play), there are also Streetpass Battles. If you pass someone else playing A Link Between Worlds, you can engage in a mano-e-mano battle with them, using only what you have equipped. Of course, the more people you know with this game, the more you’ll do battle. Good fun in short bursts, and also something to distract from the main quest.
So I’m guessing you want to know what’s wrong with this game, don’t you? Well… hrm. Think, think, think. Oh, there’s….no, wait. That’s a good thing. Hum. May I posit that perhaps, for a Zelda game, it might be a bit on the easy side? Would you accept that as criticism of a game? It’s near perfect, really, and that’s rare for a game. No linearity to complain about, the game’s length is about perfect, the bosses will be a problem until you figure it out, the dungeons will be about the same (although you can acquire a pair of hint spectacles that will spend Play Coins for hints, but only a wimp will ever dare use them), and the journey of Link is no less satisfying than before. The top-down view eradicates any kooky camera issues, and even the famed water temple (called the Swamp Temple here…I see what you did there, Nintendo!) is no more troublesome than any of the other dungeons. The freedom to run around and engage with the world in the way you want is a joy, and it’s almost as if being told “you’re old enough to explore on your own now!”
Honestly, I wish I could boil this review down to “just hurry up and buy this game already! You won’t be disappointed”, but I have Lord Prawn’s word counts to remember, and also, that would make a pretty terrible review, however true. Still, I hope you’ll be swayed by this review to purchase a game you might not otherwise have considered. Heck, I’d honestly pick up a 3DS JUST for this game (although there are a ton of more than decent games for it now!)
Oh, I thought of something bad! I was genuinely sad when the game was over, because it meant my adventure in Hyrule was over too. Ah well. On to the next review.
Final Score: 10 Master Prawns out of 10
Developer: Nintendo / Monolith Soft
Distributor: Nintendo South Africa (Core)
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
RRP: R449 (eShop)