Friday, 29 November 2013

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Despite the release of The Wind Waker HD fresh in our minds, many of us gamers have been eagerly awaiting the release of a new title in the Legend of Zelda series, as opposed to a HD re-release. Well, your prayers have been answered in the form of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS. 

The most notable aspect of the build up to this game was its placement in the chronology of the series. Though you play as a different Link, A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the classic SNES title that many consider being the best of the series. With that in mind, this was always going to be an uphill struggle for Nintendo, as creating a sequel to a masterpiece ain't so easy. Does it live up to the brilliance of A Link to the Past? No, but that's OK as it's a terrific experience in its own right.

Whereas most Zelda games focus on Ganon as the bad guy, A Link Between Worlds' big bad is Yuga, a wizard that has the ability to turn people into paintings. Yeah, I know, not the most terrifying power imaginable, but it's effective, and while Yuga is kind of forgettable, he makes a nice change from Ganon. That said, Ganon does appear in this game, and his appearance is more in line with some of the retro Zelda titles. And, like any other respectable Zelda game, it begins with Link waking up from a dream in bed. Perfect.

One thing that needs to be said about A Link Between Worlds is its eagerness to get right to the action. Since the days of The Ocarina of Time, Zelda titles seem to take forever to get going, and insist of lengthy cut-scenes to set everything up. This was frustratingly rampant in Skyward Sword, but thankfully A Link Between Worlds is different, and more like the early games in the series.

It kicks off quickly, and once into the action the player will find it to be a typical Zelda fare, but with a few tweaks. Firstly, the stereoscopic 3D is extremely well done, and while it could have been used simply as a gimmick, it's use is impressive throughout. This is apparent during some inventive puzzles and during one particular dungeon, an area that utilizes the almost untapped creative potential of the 3DS.

While key items and gear are still unlocked during your dungeon quests, you now have the ability to “rent” items, including the Bow and Bomb Bag, assuming you have the Rupee's that is. Additionally, another big change is that most weapons are linked to your energy bar. So, while in previous Zelda games you would often find yourself breaking a pot, running off-screen, then breaking it again to find, say, more bombs, all you need to do is wait for your energy bar to recharge. It keeps the action fast, frantic and fun. Combat is as slick as ever too, while boss battles are some of the best in the series yet.

However, A Link Between Worlds does tend to focus more on exploration rather than action, and this change in pace- being more like A Link to the Past- is extremely welcomed. It also helps that graphically it's perfect and a joy to see. From Links comfy house to the darkest dungeons, A Link Between Worlds can't be faulted in the visual department. The 3D here in no gimmick, and achieves at improving the game on many levels, rather than make it an annoyance like so many 3DS titles.

Overall The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds may not achieve the astounding heights of A Link to the Past, but it may be the best Zelda hand-held title yet, hugely enjoyable and a fun adventure for the entire family.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds spin attacks a near perfect 9/10

Denis Murphy

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds at CeX

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