Legend of Zelda: A link to the past (SNES) Review

A Link to the past came out in 1991, (92 in North America) the same year I was born. Even though my memory is limited, I used to play this game at my cousin’s house all the time when I was roughly 4 or 5 and even though I was young, I knew a good game when I played it. I’d like to say it was the first game I ever played, but Mario 3 holds that honour. However, I could say it was the first game I ever really appreciated, but I never realized how great this game was until I got older.

The story is far more detailed in this game than it’s predecessors. It starts out on dark, stormy night in the middle of Hyrule. While Link is sleeping, Princess Zelda appears to her in a dream, telling him she’s trapped in Hyrule castle by an evil sorcerer and brainwashed knights. Link’s uncle leaves the house with his sword and shield to go save Zelda himself, while warning Link to stay inside...but what fun would listening to him be? Link follows him, being the defiant little shit that he is, only to find his uncle seriously wounded and left for dead. Before his death, he hands Link his weapons so he can finish the job.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past Dying Uncle Screenshot 300x225

After saving Zelda and leaving the castle, Link learns that the wizard responsible is a man called Agahnim. He intends to resurrect Ganon by breaking to seal cast on him by seven sages. To do so, he has to send 7 maidens, who are descended from them to the dark world where Ganon was sealed. Zelda just so happens to be last in line for this, hence why he attacked the castle. Link leaves the Princess in a sanctuary for her safety and begins his adventure.

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The gameplay is very similar to the first Zelda game, only more so. Rather than just thrusting your sword forward to attack, Link does a horizontal slash, which is much more effective for despatching multiple enemies. This is also the first game to introduce the spin attack, which would appear in every single Zelda game afterward. This is also the first game to introduce the Master sword which would appear in nearly every Zelda game as well. Items such as heart containers return as well, ditching the EXP system from the second game and sticking with killing bosses and finding heart pieces to improve health. Bottles for keeping potions/other items made their start here as well. In a lot of ways, this game set the standard for every Zelda game made afterward, simply with the items and storytelling.

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The graphics are improved greatly, making this a great looking SNES game for its time. The overworld map is much more detailed and the traditional theme returns as well. Other tunes like the Kakariko village theme would stick around and be remixed in later games. (Ocarina for example) The dungeons are much more varied than in the older games. They’re all structured more differently than in the first game and aren’t quite as difficult or cryptic to locate. Rather than just having to take a wild guess, there are cracks in the wall indicating where you can blow them up with bombs.You can also warp to different areas by playing an ocarina, as well as open the paths to certain dungeons with spells (the game keeping the magic meter from Zelda 2, and for future games.

Another common bit of praise this game received was for it’s Light world/Dark world set up. Around the middle of the game, Link gets sent to the dark world, which is a realm that looks like Hyrule only, well, darker because of Ganon’s power. In this world, not only are there stronger monsters and new dungeons, but weapons and heart pieces that can only be found there. You gain an item called the magic mirror that can transport you there and back. You could use it to scale cliffs, and access different areas simply by teleporting there and back briefly. This was a great way to extend the size of the game, and the dark world is changed enough that it feels like a whole new map, rather than a cop out.

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If the first Zelda game created the standard for action/adventure games, this one reset it. For storytelling, controls, exploration NPCs...in every conceivable way. In fact, it stayed on Nintendo Power’s top games list as the #1 game for 5 years! Until, if I’m not mistaken, it was usurped by the game I intend to review next.

master sword


*Side note: Yes, I’m aware that Skyward Sword is out tomorrow. Yes, I intend to buy it ASAP.

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  • 2

    Also, it started the trend of having Zelda games begin with Link in bed.

    • Ertrov
    • November 20, 2011, 10:00 pm
    bet you'll never guess how skyward sword starts :p

    So far it's a fairly decent game. The controls are actually fairly simple and easy to understand, but you have to swing around the wiimote a -LOT- more than in Twilight Princess.
    - Disco November 21, 2011, 12:27 am
    I know, I got it Sunday morning. Lol.

    And the fighting is so awesome! You actually control his sword now, instead of just flicking your wrist!
    - Ertrov November 21, 2011, 12:29 am
    It's neat how some of the enemies block too. Depending on how they're holding weapons, you can pretty much slash around them with these controls. (Like you, the first thing I did yesterday morning was buy it. XD)

    I also like how shields and potions are upgradeable based on the items you find.
    - CrazyJay November 21, 2011, 8:46 am
  • 2

    This game was awesome (Kicked Ganon's ass easily!)

    But the Fourth (or fifth) Dungeon in the Dark world, the one where you enter under the statue, I had NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT TO DO WHEN THE GIRL WAS FOLLOWING ME, I was stuck on that for about two days

    That's the one where it turns out she's really the boss, right? That drove me nuts too. I'm pretty sure I got her into the sunlight completely by accident, then she turns into the boss and I'm all like "OMGWTFBBQ."
    - CrazyJay November 23, 2011, 9:45 am
    I know! I blew up the floor and was like "What was the point of that?" and then when I got her into the sunlight I was like "OHMANWHATIDONTEVEN"
    - SuperPost November 23, 2011, 11:54 am
  • 1

    I'm going to play Skyward Sword on my computer cause I know that Dolphin looks infinitely better than Wii graphics do. Plus I haz wiimote for my PC :D.

    • Disco
    • November 19, 2011, 8:19 pm
  • 1

    I gotta say best one cause I only played 2 others after that. Now a guy that works with me tells me to try flute thing of time cause its the best one oh well I'll give it a shot.

    - imfrikknbad November 23, 2011, 1:59 pm
    Nah just too busy with RL to give a crap.
    - willybSDwe December 7, 2011, 9:55 am
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