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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds review

The world of Hyrule is as compelling as ever in this sequel to one of the best games of all time

When asked what my favourite movie is, I always hesitate. There are so many greats. But when asked the same of videogames, I’ve never wavered in answering The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. So when a sequel-come-remake-come-hybrid-come-follow-up was rumoured for my stand-out favourite, I felt a combination of pure childlike elation, and a shred of fear that the original might not be done justice.

I need not have worried; The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is everything I hoped it would be, and more. As a follow-up to the 1991 fan favourite, the new addition for the 3DS had to bring out the big guns (or Master Swords, if you will). You’ll feel a well-balanced mix of nostalgia for the original scenery and beautiful musical score, and an insatiable curiosity for the whole heap of new things to discover. 

The world of Hyrule feels the same – but it’s certainly not regurgitated content. The dungeons are new, with secrets waiting to be discovered at every corner, plus it’s littered with new characters and games. There’s also a very significant change  to Link’s skillset; the ability to merge into walls, which provides many of the game’s new challenges (but doesn’t make the Hookshot entirely redundant).

Link is shown next to his wall-bound drawing doppleganger.

Armed with important questions such as “Will an entire brood of chickens still attack if I anger one?”, you’ll begin with Link waking up in his home – which is later used by a cheeky merchant called Ravio who will rent Link the items he needs along the way – with the option to  buy them at a hefty price. At first this felt like cheating, as players won’t have to search and be awarded with items. But when you first lose all of his precious lives, you realised that the rented items are returned and you have to fork out for them again - so Link’s death comes at a price.

All items are also restored via an energy bar, so you won’t be running out of bombs for example. In practice it means you can mix up battles by switching between weapons (especially for Street Pass battles) – and you won’t necessarily know what to use where. This all plays into the more open world of Hyrule, and particularly in the dark world of Lorule, as you can target any of the dungeons in any order. The hint glasses are available from the fortune teller to help guide you in your next step if you get stuck.

Link uses the sword beam attack on a marauding Stalfos.

As Zelda is a franchise many adults grew up with, Nintendo’s challenge is to please both a seasoned market while also appealing to a younger generation of players. One downside of this, is that some of the dungeons simply aren’t testing enough. While some parts will leave you wandering around thinking about your next clever move, sometimes you’ll find yourself in and out in no time – defeating the boss on the first attempt. An option to increase the difficulty level might have been appreciated.

A Link to the Past’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, reportedly said he didn’t like the preliminary plans for A Link Between Worlds. It’s a good thing he placed pressure on the developers, as what’s been created is truly wonderful instalment in the Zelda series. Link is quick, responsive, and every bit the hero you’d want him to be. The game uses layering to its advantage, with the 3DS adding depth, and it’s utterly addictive.

On behalf of those who can’t stop themselves playing for hours on end, here’s a word of advice for creators: you might want to consider an option for adults to turn off the recurring message: “You’ve been playing for a while. Why not take a break?” A Nintendon’t if ever I saw one.