Link is back with a brand new adventure in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. An indirect sequel to the classic A Link to the Past, released back 1992 for SNES; it features gorgeous graphics, captivating orchestral music, the return of the top-down view mechanic, and a brand new story that takes you to a mysterious world of Lorule.
And that is why I consider this as a must buy for any Zelda fan or 3DS console owner.
A Link Between Worlds follows on from the original story of A Link to the Past with an entirely new story set in the kingdom of Hyrule. Many years after Ganon was sealed away by the seven sages, a new threat emerges from a wizard called Yuga who is seeking out the descendants of the seven sages and turning them into paintings.
The tale begins with Link witnessing the local priest’s daughter, Seres, be transformed into a painting by Yuga. Whilst attempting to stop Yuga, Link is turned into a painting himself, and it is only thanks to the mysterious bracelet given to him by Ravio, a travelling merchant, that allows him into return to normal. It is up to Link to return peace to the lands when Yuga seals Hyrule Castle and vanishes into a dark and twisted version of Hyrule called Lorule.
Graphics and Gameplay
A Link Between Worlds has quite impressive graphics considering it is predominantly a top down view game. The game delivers 60 frames per second and immersive 3D which makes the environments look incredible. The 3D effect also enhances the depth within the world, and makes it easier to navigate dungeons and solve perspective based puzzles. In previous 3DS games, I have only briefly played with the 3D slider fully up, but this game is truly enhanced with the 3D activated and remained on for the entire time.
Link’s ability to turn into a painting creates a new dynamic of gameplay as previously inaccessible places or hidden secrets can be reached by turning into a painting and walking along walls. I loved this mechanic as I could view the level at an entirely new perspective, which demonstrated the graphical prowess of the 3DS. and really challenged me at times. It also provides some of the most enjoyable moments within the game as you have to solve puzzles using the ingenious ability.
In order to reinvent the series, subtle changes were made to make the game feel fresh. Instead of the normal Zelda formula of travelling to a dungeon, defeating a miniboss, then getting an item; you can rent any item from the start straight away for a very low fee. However there is a catch – if you die at any stage, all of your rented items will be returned, leaving you in a perilous situation when you revive in the middle of a dungeon. Fortunately, you can buy individual items which remain on you when you die, but they are quite expensive (between 800-1200 rupees each). This shake up of the norm finally gives you a use for spending all of your rupees and does make the game more enjoyable, but this extra challenge can prove irritating at times.
Another change was the reduction of the generally slow introduction to the game. In past Zelda games, at least an half an hour of gameplay was required before travelling to the first dungeon. However, in A Link Between Worlds you reach the first dungeon within 5 minutes which demonstrates the accelerated pace of the game. Moreover, from a certain point of the game, you are given the choice to tackle dungeons in the order you prefer which gives you a sense of freedom often lacking in Zelda games.
The overworld is huge, and you could spend hours exploring all of its secrets and optional side quests. Luckily, you get access to quick travel to previous save points very early in the game thanks to the helpful witch Irene and her bell. Zelda fans will love the Majora’s Mask easter eggs hidden within the game, including Majora’s Mask hanging on Link’s wall at home.
StreetPass connectivity has also been included allowing you to create your own Shadow Link, equip him with items and battle others StreetPass Data when you see Shadow Link waiting in your game. If you do manage to beat him, you get to claim a reward, which varies depending on the power of your equipment. There is also a list of 50 different challenges or achievements that encourages you to make the most out of your Shadow Link battles.
Although the game is on a handheld, I felt as though some of the initial dungeons where too short and over relatively quickly. The difficulty does ramp up though and at times you can find yourself dying quite often within the same dungeon.
Music and Sound
The beautiful orchestrated music is incredible for the 3DS. Some of the best music in the series to date is in this game especially the Hyrule Castle and the overworld theme in Lorule. The sound effects are top notch as would be expected from a Zelda game.
Amazing story, 3D graphics and music; Shadow Link battles through StreetPass; greater freedom to explore the world
Renting weapons can be irritating sometimes; short initial dungeons
A great reinvention of the long-running Legend of Zelda series
Nintendo has really outdone themselves with “A Link Between Worlds” and the unique gameplay mechanics reinvigorates a series that is 27 years old and make it feel new again. The graphics are beautiful and the ability to convert into a painting completely revolutionises navigation throughout dungeons and the world. Captivating music, in combination with a deep story enthralls you into the game. It does take a bit of time to get used to the dying mechanic, where all your rented items disappear when you die but it does add complexity and difficulty to the game.
Overall, A Link Between Worlds is one of the best 3DS and Zelda games to date and a great reinvention of the series!