It's been over two decades since the gaming world was graced with one of the best video games of all time, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. So naturally when a true sequel was announced by Nintendo, Zelda fans across the world were ecstatic. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds promised fans a fresh take on the decades old series as well as keeping the nostalgia that made its predecessor so great. When it comes to sequels, unfortunately some developers break promises and release games that don't match up to the expectations of their fans…… I'm proud to say, A Link Between Worlds is not one of those games.
What's Wrong With Hyrule Now?
As we start our beloved Link is taking a much needed nap until Gulley, the blacksmiths son awakens our sleeping hero and tells him he needs to get to work. Once Link finally gets there he is given his only normal quest of the game. Link is told to deliver a sword to the Captain at Hyrule Castle. Sounds easy right? Well nothing is easy for our beloved hero Link. Before delivering the sword Link finds out that the Captain is stuck inside the Sanctuary by Yulga. Yulga turns the ministries daughter into a painting before dashing out of the sanctuary. Of course Link has to go tell Princess Zelda about these new events. After doing so, Link learns of this evil Yulgas plan to seek out the descendants of the Sages in order to revive our well known friend…..Ganon!!! Link is now set out on his quest to save all of the Sages and stop Ganon from being resurrected. This adventure brings Link to a variety of different areas. While some of the areas are familiar, some are not so familiar. The alternate land of Lorule which replaces the Dark World in A Link to the Past is a welcome addition and definitely adds more diversity to an already diverse world. Nintendo does a superb job in immersing you into the famous world of Hyrule and the story, while cliche still remains excellent and interesting enough to keep any Zelda fans attention.
So what's new with Link?
Familiar Zelda weapons return in this game such as arrows, bombs, hammers etc. Unlike other Zelda games you no longer need ammunition in order to use these weapons. Link has a magic bar that acts as the ammunition. For example, shooting a bow and arrow will deplete the magic bar. The magic bar also regenerates on its own leaving out the need for magic potions. This addition seems to make the game a tad bit easier unfortunately. No longer do you need to strategize or use items sparingly. You can basically just spam arrows or bombs because you will regenerate magic at a fast rate. Items can be upgraded by finding Mama Maimai's babies. Finding these items will allow Link to upgrade his items. Finding these babies is encourages you to explore this beautiful world because these things are everywhere. You will have to search every nook and cranny in order to find all of them. The Master Sword can also be upgraded using Master Ore you find in dungeons. When Link is at full health, just like in A Link to the Past, he can shoot projectiles from his sword. Using the bottom screen of the Nintendo 3DS allows you to get an overlook of the map, areas where Maimai's babies are at as well as access Links inventory. Having a second screen definitely makes things easier because no longer do you have to pause and bring up a menu in order to swap weapons out or looks at maps. After the story is complete you can replay the game in the familiar “Hero Mode” this mode drastically increase the difficulty for your second playthrough. Enemies do quadruple damage which as you can imagine is nerve wrecking. Hero Mode is a great challenge for diehard Zelda fans and is truly a great thing to brag about to your friends if you can complete it. A Link Between Worlds changes the gameplay up from its predecessors to make it feel fresh but still sticks to its roots and maintains a great balance of nostalgia and innovation.A Link Between Worlds introduces a lot of gameplay features that change the way you might be used to playing past Zelda games. No change is as big as the new power Link obtains early in the game. He gets a power that allows him to “merge” into walls and essential become a drawing (sounds crazy I know). This is arguably one of the most unique gameplay additions to the entire 27 year old series. Merging into walls allows Link to go into different areas of a dungeon as well as entire Lorule (the alternate world mentioned earlier). In previous Zelda games Link has to complete dungeons in a specific order for you to progress through the game. In A Link Between Worlds that is no longer the case. You are given access to the entire map as well as all the dungeons in the game and can decide to tackle them in whatever order you so choose. But what about weapons and items? This is also another great addition. Just like the world, Link has access to all items and weapons as well…with a twist. Early on you meet a quirky little fellow by the name of Ravio. Link reluctantly allows Ravio to occupy his house and sell items to Link. These items can either be purchased or rented. This makes rupees much more valuable than in any other Zelda games. You can purchase items to keep them with you at all times or rent them but Link will lose all of them if he dies. This finally adds weight to death in Zelda games. Yes it is much cheaper to rent items from Ravio but if you happen to die in the game you will be left without any weapons and potentially in a bad spot such as in the middle of a dungeon that you need them.
Has 2D Link Aged Well?
Yes, yes he has. A Link Between Worlds utilizes the top down two dimensional gameplay from other Zelda Games but also has stereoscopic 3D graphics utilizing the power of the Nintendo 3DS. The 3D feature on most of 3DS games is sometimes looked at as a gimmick and most people use it at first then shut it off completely. That is not the case with this game. A Link Between Worlds looks absolutely stunning in 3D and it is highly encouraged to play with it turn on (just keep your charger nearby). Hyrule is full of color and you can tell the world has been prospering. Going into Lyrule, Nintendo does an excellent job in showing that Lyrule is the opposite of Hyrule. It is a darker, depressing world. A Link Between Worlds looks gorgeous. Those classic Zelda tunes that have warmed our hearts over all these years are of course here as well. Nintendo has never failed to give us the perfect soundtracks to immerse us in an already immersive world. This game looks and sounds…perfect.
How Long Will You Be In Hyrule?
There are tons of things to do in Hyrule. As stated before there are 100 of Maimai's baby to find in the world and of course no Zelda game is complete without the undying search for all of those Pieces of Hearts. Like usual finding all the Pieces of Hearts takes some time. The main story alone is roughly around ten hours long. I've personally put 20 hours in this game so far and still looking for a few more or those babies. Hyrule gives you tons to do and definitely proves to be a lengthy adventure.
Final Verdict 9/10
+Unique Merging Ability
-No Ammunition Makes Game Easier
Zelda A Link Between Worlds is arguably the best game to be released on the 3DS. Nintendo has does a great job in pleasing the older fans of the series as well as appealing to the younger generation of Zelda fans. This game is something any owner of a 3DS should experience. Not tomorrow, not next week….but now.