The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)

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Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
-Pink Floyd, Time

 

 

A Link to the Past is only the third title in the Zelda franchise yet its smooth refinement of the original blueprints laid down by the first Legend of Zelda ensured the future direction of a majority of its successors.

In a lot of ways, A Link to the Past seems to me like a course correction. It lifts only a little from Zelda II: the Adventure of Link, the likes of which we’ve not seen much of since. Notably gone are the side-scrolling elements and a lot of the gameplay that leans heavily toward RPGishness. Rather, Link to the Past feels like the true heir of the original Zelda, regardless of how respected or disrespected the Castlevania-esque Zelda II remains. In refining the original, A Link to the Past established a gameplay and presentation structure for the adventure game genre which emphasizes a balance of overworld progression, dungeon exploration, secret hunting, and item acquisition used in every single Zelda game since. It’s contributions to the series cannot be overstated.

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Further, Link’s now iconic Master Sword, the familiar top-down perspective, the emphasis on exploration and experimentation, the jumping between two worlds, the earliest seeds of a complex timeline, the inclusion of a sword-swing rather than a sword-stab, the staple of quirky, lovable characters, the familiar musical jangles, all of these were either introduced for the first time or put to polish by Link to the Past. As if these weren’t enough to make this game a piece of gaming history, it is also widely considered to be one of the greatest games on the Super Nintendo, if not one of the greatest games ever and the definitive Zelda title.

Now that all of that has been said, maybe we can attempt to dispense with the perpetual lauding that this game gets and rightfully deserves. A Link to the Past is phenomenally memorialized in many a gaming heart but if we’re to have any sensible discussions of its merits and even its failings missed opportunities then we must get critical. And sometimes, a thing is more beautiful for its flaws than if it were flawless.

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Attempting to cut through the legendary aura that has built up around this game is nearly impossible. In reviewing retro games, especially ones of this caliber, it’s consistently a challenge to try to circumnavigate things like nostalgia and widespread opinion.

But what do I honestly think of Link to the Past? I think it’s a seminal Zelda game that established the direction its franchise was to take, yes, but three detracting elements present themselves to my mind. I think its comparatively sparse storytelling, repetitive music, constant backtracking/getting lost take away from the ultimate experience. I think that in spite of these things, however, that this is perhaps the best example of classic Zelda, representing what the series’ top-down games offer and what drawbacks they bear.

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After the glimmering 3D triangles of the Triforce teeter across the screen and the triumphant music blasts over the title card, we’re presenting with an opening cutscene. Firmly reminding us that Nintendo has founded an entire mythos with the Zelda series, A Link to the Past begins with this introductory cinematic explaining a small sliver of this great legend.

In a distant hidden land in ancient times, a golden power dwelt. Many sought to take up this omnipotent, omniscient golden power for themselves and war wracked the kingdom. Those who departed to the hidden land in search of this arcane power never returned. Then one day evil began to flow from the hidden land until the King of Hyrule enlisted seven wise men to lock away the land and its power forever. Their seal remained for many years until their deeds became but a myth.

Enter Agahnim, a Jafar-like figure, a wizard who usurped the authority of the King of Hyrule and purposed to release the seal on the hidden land. The evil sorcerer imprisoned the Princess Zelda and magically disposed of the seven maidens, descendants of the wise men.

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A young boy named Link is awoken one stormy night by a voice in his head. It is Zelda, calling out to him from her dungeon across the void via telepathy. She implores him to help her. Link’s uncle demands the boy stay in the house on such a night but after he leaves, Link jumps out of bed and heads out into the darkness after the princess’ voice.

He soon reaches Hyrule castle, now overrun with the servants of Agahnim. Link finds his uncle there. Mortally wounded, his uncle gives him his sword and shield, saying he wishes Link hadn’t gotten involved. With his dying breath, he assures Link that he can do it, that he can save the princess, for Zelda is his… … …

He’s gone.

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Now this is all a step up from the previous two games in terms of story. We’ve had an opening cinematic and a definitive goal, not to mention dialogue. Compare that to the original two games which drop players into Link’s boots in the middle of nowhere with no explanation on what to do. This Link has at least some direction.

But note, we’re never told exactly what Zelda is in relation to Link. Nobody fills in the missing words of Link’s dead uncle. Apparently, in the Japanese version that bit of text reads “You are the princess’ … … “, the opposite of the translation into English. “Destiny” or “only hope” come to mind rather than any biological relation. At least one hopes so.

Anyway, after rescuing Zelda from the dungeon of Hyrule castle, she tells Link they can sneak away through a secret passage to Sanctuary. There we learn from the old man that Zelda was captured by the wizard as the final piece he needed to open the seal of the wise men. If that happens, the pent up evil in the hidden land will overwhelm Hyrule. Link must seek out the legendary Master Sword if he hopes to confront Agahnim and save the day.

And THEN you’re dropped into the big open world that is A Link to the Past.

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This map is incredibly detailed for the era and represents all of the overworld locales pretty well. It feels like a sprawling fantasy kingdom, albeit with greater order and organization than the original Zelda’s map. I distinctly remember thinking, after exploring it for the first time for some hours, that it still seemed a little small. I didn’t think that was the case specifically in comparison to the first game. It was just some kind of intuition that there was more to this game then met my youthful eye.

Then I found out that Link had to gather three treasures from three dungeons (only three?) in order to wield the might of the Master Sword, but once he took up the mythic weapon, that’s when the game really took off. A Link to the Past features not one but two overworlds, a parallel universe known as the Dark World is a place Link is abruptly cast into but he can make use of a Magic Mirror to travel back to the Light World. In this way, the game has two worlds to explore and there are all kinds of interesting interactions between them to seek out. Furthermore, jumping between the two worlds can allow Link to bypass obstacles in one world by going to another and then returning to the other to grab a secret treasure.

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This one mechanic turns the whole game on its head, defies expectations and makes A Link to the Past a landmark in adventure gaming. No wonder later games in the series played around with the idea of two “worlds”, as in the tiny world of Minish Cap, the future world of Ocarina of Time, and so on. The idea is ingenious. It allows the game to feel much, much bigger and it accommodates some very intriguing puzzles and level-design.

In the Dark World, armed with the Master Sword, Link must rescue the seven maidens of the lineage of the wise men, as well as Zelda who is recaptured by the wizard’s forces. But things won’t be easy. Awaiting him after many more dungeons is the evil Ganon himself, whom the wizard Agahnim has been working to release from his seal.

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The resemblances between the Light and Dark Worlds are uncanny but so are their disparities. The Light World features a lush and verdant Hyrule with people and forest creatures, fresh water, and green forests. The Dark World is populated by monsters, skulls lying in the dirt, with stretches of desert and swamps. This also brought the series’ characteristic darkness into play.

Some of the creatures in the Dark World are members of the Light World who came in search of the golden power, but they were transformed by the magic of the parallel universe into twisted shapes resembling their true selves deep in their hearts.

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It sounds like philosophical torture up there with the punishment of Prometheus by Zeus to be transformed into a ball and be kicked around by a frustrated goblin for the rest of your existence. Other people were turned into weird, twisted tree-like creatures. That’d be straight up body horror if this game had realistic graphics. But the thing is it’s never too dark. It’s borderline frightening but there’s always that cute, lovable character sprite to remind you this is at heart still a Nintendo game, and that balance was the spark that started this trend in the spirit of the Legend of Zelda.

It is undeniable that the Zelda series would not be what it is today without A Link to the Past. There could be no Breath of the Wild without the innovation and pioneering done in this SNES title. It takes the blue ribbon for the game that best represents what this series is all about and I therefore recommend it as a great starting place for anyone new to the Legend of Zelda.

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The 8-bit Review
visual Visuals: 
10/10
When A Link to the Past was released, the Super Nintendo was only one year old, yet this Zelda game put the capabilities of the 16-bit system on full display. It’s pseudo-3D rendering was apparent in the title screen’s Triforce and the scrolling map. The transition and travel between two worlds was astounding. The sheer size of the game with two worlds with their two different appearances was mindblowing. The game’s use of lighting and darkness in dungeons and caves, as well as the weather effects during the intro, dappled sunlight, and mist, made this a world which felt tangible and vivid in this whole new generation of gaming.

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The graphics remain appealing in their uniquely defined and round-around-the-edges way. These trees and mountains and gates, all of the game’s bushes and hedges and fences and walls, look unlike anything else before or since. They look stylized, miniaturized. It’s hard to describe with exactitude. It’s distinctly Super Nintendo and it appears as if the developers took great care in crafting even what the trees would look like. I always thought the environs resembled candy. Even the houses look like perfect little figurines.

The characters themselves are also much more articulate than in the NES games. Link’s iconic hat bobs up and down as he runs. The NPCs and enemies are far more detailed as well. Even the enemy soldiers turn their heads back and forth to look for our hero in green.

One complaint and one question, though. The complaint: Those text boxes have some really tough to read text with that bright, vibrant blue-white and no background. The question: Why on Earth is Link’s hair pink? (spoiler: highlight to reveal) It’s because of palette limitations with normal Link and Bunny Link combined.

All in all, however, there aren’t too many other 16-bit games with this level of polish, without the visual noise of the pixelated eras. A Link to the Past does a splendid job of representing some of the best graphics of the SNES.

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 Audio: 7/10

Adventurous, bold, orchestral, sweeping, A Link to the Past has a good soundtrack with great tunes that are somewhat overused, keeping the music from reaching perfection. Koji Kondo returns and he brings his big guns for an OST that sounds bigger than ever before, breathing depth and gravity into the songs he established in the original Legend of Zelda. The title screen music sets the tone for the entire game.

I noticed this time around playing the game that there’s a lot of mood and menace to the music. The track which plays over the opening cinematic and again when Link leaves his home in search of the princess features music that’s frantic, panicky almost. It sounds stressful and tense. Kondo clearly was aiming for an adventure sound that wasn’t all fun and fanfare. The result is a soundtrack with variable personality.

Fans of the series, young and old, will recognize the Hyrule Overture, the main theme of the franchise and here as the theme of the Light World. It’s much broader in sound than the original game’s Overture, what with its cymbals and horns. It’s a great song and all but it is the only song that you’ll hear while exploring the entire Light World so it is going to become wearisome, nostalgia-glasses or no.

Other recurring tunes you may recognize are some of these below. A Link to the Past established tracks like “Zelda’ Lullaby” as series staples.

The occasional story-related or scene-related track is a welcome deviation from the game’s otherwise fairly repetitive musical presentation. Take the examples below. The first appears in Sanctuary, which immediately attains an air of austerity and religiosity for the sound of its music, but then there’s the second track, a tiring, jarring, monotone song which plays in a whole lot of caves. And there are a lot of caves.

Even with how good a lot of this soundtrack is, I found myself reaching for the remote to turn down the volume if a song got too tiresome on repeat. This might be the weakest element of the entire game, but even then, it’s not like we’re talking downright awful. We’re talking great but too repetitive.

 Gameplay: 9/10
A Link to the Past takes every facet of the first Zelda’s gameplay and works to refine it. The gameplay is a text-book example of smoothness, based around a structure of exploring the overworld for the next dungeon, finding the dungeon’s special item, defeating the boss with said item, then using it to find and unlock the next dungeon. In this way, the game cannot truly be played out of order, no matter how much its open-endedness appears to allow it. In 2017, we’re entirely familiar with this basic quasi-linear structure of exploration and acquisition but here is where it became the standard. Dungeons are now designed to heavily feature the special items found in them, barring you access to the dungeon boss until you find the item and learn how to use it.

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There is more than one way to beat this boss.

Using items strategically is another thing which sets A Link to the Past apart. Enemies and bosses and dungeons can no longer be defeated merely by swinging your sword headlong into the fray, willy-nilly. Yes you can now swing your sword in an arc rather than merely stab straight forward, an innovation which makes for much more fluid combat. But from very early on, the game presents you with enemies that cannot be defeated (or defeated easily) through conventional means, all but forcing you to either retreat or observe your surroundings and arsenal for strategic assault. This will inevitably render some of Link’s weapons and tools more useful than others, and others almost obsolete, but it makes each encounter with even basic enemies a much more varied experience. A Link to the Past also includes many more items and item upgrades than its predecessors, ensuring that the variation in gameplay is that much broader.

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Not all items need to be found/upgraded in order to beat the game, either. This resolves one of my fundamental grips with the Legend of Zelda series. Well, one of the very few that I have. It is this: generally, there’s a lot of exploration to be done in a Legend of Zelda game but it sometimes feels like there’s ultimately little point to it. It’s hard to feel excited finding every little secret, even end-game secrets, when it’s something like a bunch of rupees or a box of twenty bombs, or even just another heart container. But A Link to the Past avoids that by including optional items as secrets, making besting some of its puzzles a truly rewarding experience.

A few more pros and then some cons.

The Dark World. Jumping back and forth between worlds, as mentioned, is an incredible mechanic that makes exploration all the more compelling. It starts to tap into having to memorize locales and layouts of the landscape in order to find everything.

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However, the magic meter seems superfluous at best and indulgent at worst, forcing you to backtrack for restorative potions when you really need it. Also, pegasus boot spamming gets old fast. These boots are an item which Link can use to momentarily build up speed and then charge like a locomotive across the land at high speeds. This effect stops when you enter the next screen though and you can’t change directions when dashing. You’ll also stop if you bump into a wall or obstacle and stagger backward (though you plow through enemies). It’s cumbersome but it’s the only way to get around the world quickly by foot.

There are some teleporting features, such as being able to pick your starting location if you die or restart the game, but the tedium of backtracking also gets old fast, especially if you don’t know where you’re going. And you won’t, especially if its either your first time playing or you can’t remember what you’re supposed to do next. There’s little in-game guidance immediately available to you, as well. That means you’ll be hoofing it slowly around Hyrule looking for your next item or dungeon, often through trial and error, until you break down and consult a guide or just push through and put in some real hours exploring backtracking.

Finally, there’s switching items in the main menu screen. This could’ve been easily ironed out if they’d allowed you to cycle through items with the shoulder buttons, instead of having to open up your menu every time you had to switch items, which can be quite often in the case of some boss fights.

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story Narrative: 9/10
Each new Zelda game further fleshes out the history of this grand fantasy world. A Link to the Past does so in its own small way. One could ask why it gets such a high score for Narrative when it doesn’t have things like an intricate plot, developed characters, or even much dialogue. But I think that the scanty narrative, intentional or not, actually serves to heighten the mystery of this mythos. The other option would’ve been to explain (read: over-explain) and drown this little game in the modern textual obsession with commentary. As it is, this basic tale of good vs. evil, purity vs. greed, the underdog vs. the prince of darkness in A Link to the Past very much resembles an actual legend, without much detail, without strict time-keeping and the like.

Those who’ve played the first two games noted that Link to the Past doesn’t seem to follow the story of the original games. Whereas Zelda II was a sequel to the original, this one seems out of sorts. Bear in mind that Nintendo had to smooth out the wrinkles in what’s become a convoluted set of timelines with an entire hardcover compendium, but it’s worth noting that playing around with a vast Zelda timeline began here.

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What does the title mean? Good question. It’s one of those things, like Link’s relationship to Zelda, that’s never explained directly by the game. I’m going to lay down the conjecture that it’s referring to Link’s quest to save the seven maidens and prevent the seal from being broken. The seal itself is ancient and the maidens are descendants of the legendary wise men, so in this respect Link is dealing with concepts directly relating to the past. There’s also the possibility that this game takes place far back in the Zelda timeline so it is itself a reference to the past of this universe’s history.

In Japan, though, the title of the game is “Triforce of the Gods”. Changing the name for the North American release is typical Nintendo. It’s an exercise in censorship removing any religious symbolism from pretty much all of their games released in the West.

Next question. Why is Link a compelling hero, at all? I’ve been playing a lot of Zelda games lately and it seems like people don’t get tired of the hero in green. But why? What makes him special? I’ve even heard him called a Gary Stu, but gamers love him. He’s an icon. He’ll never fall out of favor, it seems.

He’s sort of like Golden Age Superman, and to a lesser extent his Silver Age counterpart. Link, too, is symbolic, iconic, archetypal, exemplary. Aside from destruction of private property looking for rupees and harassing cucoos, he’s pure. Does the appearance of a Dark Link persona in the mythos even go so far as to suggest that he’s incorruptible, compartmentalizing his inner moral evil as an entirely separate entity? Remember they did the same thing with Reeve in Superman III?

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Link will never die because he represents a true hero, an icon. He doesn’t need to have flaws we can empathize with. He doesn’t need to become this well-rounded and developed character. He doesn’t need to become more human. Please, don’t try to make him relatable. He does’t need to be. He’s pure courage, noble, marching off to save the world without a second thought.

We need heroes like these, heroes such as the world told stories of for millennia before the advent and dominance of the “flawed hero”. We’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that more dirt on a protagonist automatically makes them a better character. Link flies in the face of that. We need heroes like Link in our stories because they represent pure standards to look up to. They represent aspirations we can aspire to, immersing ourselves in the character. Link is no one, therefore he can be anyone. Again, with Superman, remember when he used to be perfect? Before they so humanized him that they made him as unexceptional as the rest of us? No wonder people complained about a recent Supes too moody and too depressed.

I could use more courage and Link is emblematic of courage. He’s like a force of nature or a timeless virtue. Heroes don’t need problems like alcoholism, addiction, or asinine personalities to be compelling. Heroes do not have to share our guilt and vices, or be gritty, mopey, conceited, or insecure in order to be worth our adoration. Let’s just take a step back and remember that.

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diff Challenge: 9/10
Okay so I had some trouble getting through this game and I place the blame entirely on the awful GameCube controller, which I never truly appreciated and which I disliked all the more for its wacky button placement while playing A Link to the Past. I’ll need to buy the Classic Controller for this and other Wii Virtual Console games. I found myself dying a lot, mostly because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the controls this way. I’d been trained for too long on the original SNES setup.

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Some things which actually do make the game difficult, GameCube controller aside, are the limited amount of hearts you start the game with and the slow going to collect more. Considering the game isn’t isometric either, it’s very easy to line up your attacks wrong and get hit into oblivion. This is the single biggest challenge, getting hit too much, as the dungeons themselves aren’t overtly complex in their layouts. But with no save point in front of the boss room, you’ve got to save up your hearts well and ensure you take down the boss in one go, otherwise… well, remember that ol’ word we love so much: backtracking?

All this being said, A Link to the Past is a smidge less difficult than the original game but it’s certainly harder than most of the 3D Zeldas that came after it. Those people that said Breath of the Wild is the hardest Zelda game to date need to go back and play the first three Zelda games.

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replay Replayability: 10/10
With so much to do and so much to find, this game feels like a carefully cultivated version of a modern open-world game, though with tons more focus. There are secrets everywhere and some of them take a lot of doing to uncover. As previously mentioned, the game has more to reward you with than the odd stash of rupees or arrows, so there’s value to its replayability.

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unique Uniqueness: 8/10
This third Zelda game was a return to form for the fledgling series but it ended up being the definitive classic Zelda. It feels so much like the original but it took that first concept to a whole new level. Today, it still feels like the polished, expansive, busy, secretive, enchanting game it was in the early 90’s.

pgrade My Personal Grade: 10/10
A Link to the Past represents to me a great personal sorrow. In middle school, I owned the cartridge for this game. That was back before any concept of Virtual Consoles or digital downloads so if you wanted to play the game you had to have the system and the cart. I made a deal with a classmate to temporarily trade this game for two PlayStation games. He had to bribe me with two of them because I was unwilling to trust anyone with A Link to the Past. we both knew how good it was. We did end up trading… and then that classmate never came back to school. I didn’t even know his last name or phone number. I ended up with MediEvil and some kind of space racer I can’t even remember the name of. Lame deal. I never saw that cart again. And yeah, you bet that’s why my personal grade is a flat out 10. Well that and the fact that this is one of the best Zelda games ever.

If you’re looking for more retrospection for the Legend of Zelda series, check out our other reviews and posts. Thanks for reading!

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Aggregated Score: 9.0

 

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58 thoughts on “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)

  1. I have played this game, although I first experienced it many years after it was released, so I find Ocarina of Time more nostalgic to me. I was interested by the strange mix of bright, colourful graphics with the epic fantasy story (with a legend, light and dark characters, imprisoned maidens and a the story beginning with the villain’s victory). I was also surprised by the references to the Ocarina of Game, it was interesting that the same locations were used and the story seemed to be set after the later game. I liked the use of the Light and Dark Worlds, it was interesting to see the Dark World (which was referenced, but never seen in Ocarina of Time) and I liked the ways it was shown to be a frightening and desolate place. I sort of agree about the character of Link, however, I feel he is pure and innocent partly because he is supposed to follow the player’s commands and not act using his own willpower. I was interested to find out about his family and slightly confused by his uncle’s last words. I agree that the graphics are good, I enjoyed the effects mentioned in the article and liked the look of the ground from the high places, although some of the 3D effects did not really seem to work as well. While I did not find the Pegasus Boots annoying, I did find defending enemies using the four directions difficult and I agree that it is irritating to constantly open the item screen to find the appropriate tool. I also have to agree about the lack of direction and backtracking, I remember taking a long time to find one of the dungeons, unaware that I should be using the bird to find it.
    How does this game fit into the Legend of Zelda storyline? Why does Link turn into a bunny when he initially enters the Dark World? I enjoyed the story about the friend stealing your copy of the game, did you ever see him again?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m not sure where this one fits into the timeline exactly but people place it early in there, I think. I’m no expert on that. Link turns into a bunny because going to the Dark World without magical protection reveals on the outside what you were on the inside. For Link that could be speed and timidity, which would be interesting considering he represents courage. Could be he had to learn courage through the course of his adventure here. I never saw that “friend” again, and so I lost my cart for this game.

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  3. Easily one of my top five favorite Zelda games. I was just talking about Zelda with Athene from AmbiGaming, and we were discussing the “Link” thing, too. I think his name is supposed to be literally. He is the literal link between you (the player) and the game. He doesn’t have any characteristics beyond courage, heroism, and loyalty, because you can then insert yourself into into the character. It’s a pretty fantastic immersion tactic.

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    • You are, of course, absolutely correct about his name being chosen as Link for that very reason, for immersion. I also read this in an interview with Miyamoto: “Link sprite was designed by Takashi Tezuka. Like Mario, they wanted a character that would be recognisable from his sword and shield so they thought of a long hat and long ears and went into the direction of an elf. At the time, when you said long ears you thought of Peter Pan and as he’s a Disney fan, they drew inspiration from it.
      Link’s name comes from the fact that originally, the fragments of the Triforce were supposed to be electronic chips. The game was to be set in both the past and the future and as the main character would travel between both and be the link between them, they called him Link.”
      https://mynintendonews.com/2012/11/04/miyamoto-talks-about-the-origin-of-link/
      Lots of early characters in gaming obviously had limitations due to hardware and so they couldn’t be as personable as a lot of what we’re used to today. I’m surprised they didn’t do much character development for him in Breath of the Wild, actually. It doesn’t sound like it would suit the modern palette for storytelling but there you are. Link works because he functions on those levels of immersion and identification with anyone, as an archetype. Rather than being bland, he’s beloved.

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  4. I played it long time ago, but never finished it… another big one on my “To do” list. Since the very first time I saw this game (both in magazines and Super Nintendo promotional videos), loved its colorful graphics and wonderful world. And I think that gameplay still holds perfectly. A true classic masterpiece. As always, nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! When I think back to the SNES, games like this come to mind which show off everything the console could do as well as feature incredible gameplay that holds up to this day. A Link to the Past is pretty near perfect. I hope you get to finish it someday soon!

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  5. This might be a unique perspective for someone into games like myself, but Link to the Past is literally the only Zelda game I have ever played from start to finish. Never had the consoles to play the other games in the series, and everything in this game is quite memorable. Great to see this review!

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    • Thanks for reading! That’s an incredible story and it’s all the more incredible for the fact that you landed on what’s possibly the best Zelda or at least the most representative Zelda out of the whole series. I have a friend who has never played a Zelda game before and I waffle between this one and Ocarina of Time, but ultimately I think that Link to the Past does an even more stellar job of encapsulating what the franchise is all about. I appreciate your comment!

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  6. Awesome review! This was the second video game I EVER played. I was too young to get anywhere, but I remember how epic I thought the opening was. That iconic castle music, the dark depressing rain, and Link’s poor uncle trusting him with the important mission. It all added to the amazing atmosphere. Adult me has beaten the GBA version though, and it definitely lived up to my high Zelda expectations. 🙂

    Oh and I can relate to temporary trades where the other party disappears. I ended up with Red Dead Redemption for my Uncharted 2 though, so it wasn’t that bad of a deal for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! What was your first? They say you never forget it. Was it FFXIII? 😀
      Can’t get much more epic than Link to the Past. I haven’t played the GBA version, though. I read that the voice effects they gave Link annoyed some folks. You?
      Imagine losing your Uncharted 2 for a trade deal with a Monopoly board and you’ll know how I feel 😥

      Liked by 1 person

      • My first video game was the SNES version of Taz-mania (Don’t judge I was 5 years old, haha). I would love to see a SNES styled version of FFXIII made though! 😀

        It’s been a while since I played it, but I don’t remember being annoyed by Link’s noises.

        Dude, that’s just rough! 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hey no judging five-year-olds happens in these here parts! Instead of HD remakes of the Final Fantasy games, they should redo them in a 16-bit style. Who knows? It might even sell more by capitalizing on that nostalgia.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Thems some nice writing on such a masterpiece of a video game. I’m definitely of the camp that this is one of the best games ever made, trying to correct for all the nostalgia that started pumping through my veins as I read your piece. This game became like a walk in the park for me, something I did to relax. The path I loved to take was to sequence break the second world by getting the tempered sword then the golden sword before beating the first boss of the dark world. Then I would beat the dungeons one by one with the ease of a hot knife through butter.

    A Link to The Past and Super Metroid set a bar for exploration types of games that really haven’t been paralleled in the jumps in improvement from earlier games that preceded them. From Zelda 1 & 2 to A Link to the Past was such a giant bounding leap in quality in design that the series has struggled innovate upon it game mechanics and mostly ended up adding to them instead of inventing new core mechanics. Now that I think about it, I almost feel that the Metroid and Zelda IP’s are like fraternal twins in the sense that they share the same psychological satisfaction of exploring the labyrinthine mystery worlds they provide. Of course there are tons of games that were in that era and have followed (Soul Blazer, Soul Reaver, Dark Souls, etc) that give us plenty to explore, but this seemed to be the era and these games are the “Bi-force” of awesomeness that set the bar.

    I also compared the wizard with Jafar in my head when I was kid when this game came out. haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more with you! I haven’t given much thought to comparisons between Metroid and Zelda but they do seem like they function on the same levels, especially in terms of the high fantasy and futuristic sci-fi two-sides-of-the-same-coin thing they got going on.
      You mentioned “bi-force” and I wonder if you’ve ever pondered at length the significance of the Triforce and the virtues it represents? I don’t think the series does a good job of explaining if these need to be in balanace (courage, wisdom, power) or if one is consistently and always evil (power). I think I wrote on that somewhere, but can’t remember in which post haha!
      I knew we were twinsies. Agahnim is Jafar. That’s all there is to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I just feel like I’m scratching the same kind of itch in both those games, they are open-worldy and exploratory, and you need to find secrets and such. By “Bi-force” I meant a metroid-zelda ‘bi-force’, yes, cheesy pun on triforce. Or perhaps its because this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2g_0QQRjYY) got me thinking this way about exploring mystery in games.

        Your explanation of triforce power reminds me of the three statues in FF6 that were in balance until that Kefka moved em around and the world got messed up.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh yes I understood your “bi-force” metaphor (for lack of a better term), and I think it’s a genius observation. It just made me think about how the Zelda franchise handles its concept of the Triforce. Hm hm I never thought of that connection with the statues in FFVI. You know they say that genius is the ability to see connections where others can’t! Thanks for sharing the video as well.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ah, phew, I thought my bi-force thing was too cheesy, haha. Did you get a chance to watch the video? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Oh goodness, nothing much clever about my thoughts on the statues, it just reminded me of it when you were talking about the balance of the triforce.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ah yeah, I was immediately reminded of the “rumor” about getting a White Chocobo underwater in FFVII. High quality video! I’m watching it in sections. I definitely think that the world has changed too much and information is now so readily available that say a game like Grim Fandango is way easier because I can just look up the puzzles. Another thing, back in the day beating a game meant you got a final image and a “the end” screen for your reward. Now you can just google those so they’re not as valuable. This is why I try my hardest to avoid reading up on new movies or new games before I have the chance to play or review them for myself.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. This review reminds me I need to replay this game and write a review myself. Too bad I don’t have the time for it right now!

    “But with no save point in front of the boss room, you’ve got to save up your hearts well and ensure you take down the boss in one go, otherwise… well, remember that ol’ word we love so much: backtracking?”

    That’s the one thing that has always bothered me about A Link to the Past. There is some really annoying backtracking in there (and I am not one to complain about backtracking in general, as I believe there is a good kind of backtracking).

    Anyway, excellent work, as usual. You succeeded in capturing what makes this game so incredible (such as the fact it is pretty much responsible for the Zelda formula as we know it and, as a consequence, for the success of all its successors) but at the same time you were able to look through the nostalgia and the game’s mystical aura to find its flaws. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d like to read your forthcoming review! I went and read a few after finishing up my own and I found that most of the time it’s just pure gushing, which is fine and fair and writers are free to do that, but I’m interested in WHY the game works so well and what possible detracting elements it may have against it, if any. Backtracking we clearly agree on here.
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting with such a thoughtful comment! I’m sure you know yourself just how tough it is reviewing a legendary classic, so I appreciate your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As a long time Zelda fan, I really enjoyed this article. I was fortunate enough to play this title a few years ago for the very first time, and I have to say you’ve given it a fair (and dare I say loving?) overview. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah playing it for the first time as an adult must’ve been quite the experience! Were you aware of how unanimously praised this game is when you had your first run with it? I do hope I was fair! D: It’s always something I worry about, well now and then at least, when reviewing such beloved material that someone is going to call me out on something. So thanks for not doing that haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The first time I played it was on my 3DS, so that was only a few short years ago. I had read a lot about it, and was fearful that it wouldn’t live up to the praise. I’m glad to say that this fear was unfounded. While it’s not my favourite Zelda ever, I do esteem it most highly, and I had a blast playing it!

        I wonder… Will you be reviewing all of the Zelda games? ‘Cos if you are, you will definitely have an enthusiastic reader. I enjoyed your review of this and of Breath of the Wild too. My favourite Zelda of all time used to be Majora’s Mask and then it was Wind Waker, but now I’m not sure. So many great games in this series really! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Man, and that rarely happens were something matches the hype, especially nostalgia-hype. That level of hype is insane. Link to the Past isn’t my favorite Zelda game either, but like you I can recognize its many merits. If you absolutely had to say, which is your favorite Zelda in this exact moment and why? Choose! Mwahahaha!

          To answer your wonderment, we here at [insert blog name here cuz I’m lazy to do it myself] plan on reviewing anything we can get our hands on, games, tv, movies, books from any era whatsoever. In other words, yes I do plan on reviewing all the Zelda games. There are a few of the newer handheld ones that I’ll need to secure and I’ll need to conquer Zelda II (when my NES mini arrives in a few days!) but someday we’ll have them all covered! I’m currently working on The Last Guardian and a few others, but then I’d love to take another shot at a different Zelda game. My favorite was Link’s Awakening but I’ve already got that one covered. It really is a great series! Thanks for being such an enthusiastic reader, anyway! I’m always open to suggestions and recommendations for games to review, as well. Someone brought up Crystalis a while ago and I was delighted to hunt it down and play and write on it 🙂 Thanks for your encouraging words.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m pleased to read that you’ll be tackling more Zelda reviews in due time! I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for those. And, hey, it’s not hard to be enthusiastic about all that’s on offer here. My friend, it’s clear that you put a lot of work into your site, so you can count on my support. Oh, and if I had to pick, I’d maybe say Wind Waker is my all-time favourite Zelda. There are a lot of reasons for this though, so I won’t clog up your comments section with all of that. Man, I think you and I would have a blast if we hung out and talked about this stuff. It sounds like I’m very much on the same page as you when it comes to all things Zelda (and Ghibli). 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • That’s super encouraging! Thank you! I’ve been in a writing slump for a little bit so that helps vitalize my inner author. Of course, the ultimate value in doing is in the task itself but recognition is always nice 😉

              I’m happy to know Wind Waker is your favorite. It’s one of mine, maybe my second favorite. Feel free to clog up my comments section anytime, especially if you’re gushing about Wind Waker or the like.
              I would absolutely love to have a prolonged chat about these sorts of things. I get the gist we share a lot of the same thoughts, as well. Maybe I can twist your arm and interview you someday? It would be an honor to have a formal chat with you.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Actually, I was a bit hesitant to approach you about that. I’d love to be in an interview situation with you but have always been a bit worried that I’d be wasting your time. Still, I love a good natter so… where do I sign up? 😀

                Liked by 1 person

                • Well I can tell you that you’re certainly selling yourself short. Even if we just talked about your work alone it would be a pretty frickin’ awesome conversation! Do you have a Facebook or Twitter? You can drop me a message on our FB page and we can do the interview there, or likewise on Twitter. We’ll just do a back and forth over some course of time. I do need to interview one other person before I get to you, but I’m looking forward to it!

                  Liked by 1 person

                • You know what? I figure you only live once, so why not? I’ll send you a message via FB if that’s okay by you. I’ve liked your page, so now I’ll be doubly kept up to date. Totally copasetic! 😛

                  Liked by 1 person

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