Zelda: A Link to the Past - Retroview

A Masterpiece in Every Sense Of The Word

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 5
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 4
   Plot 6
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Moderate
   Time to Complete

10-12 hours


Zelda: A Link to the Past

   The Legend of Zelda is one of the most popular and successful games of all time, and has had heaps of praise shoveled upon it. Zelda 2, on the other hand, was drastically different from the other games in the series and consequently is despised by many Zelda purists, even though I thought it was a very good game. For years, everybody was waiting for Zelda: A Link to the Past to, among other reasons, see which of the previous two games it would take after and whether it would be any good. Fortunately for the purists, it was a lot like the original and fortunately for everybody, it was very good.

   The story goes that the EVIL wizard Agahnim is kidnapping all the fair maidens in the land, our fair lady Zelda included. Set in the mystical land of Hyrule, your travels will take you many places: to the main town, to a mystical forest, to the mountains and even an underground ice dungeon and a swamp palace. As the heroic Link, you must accomplish several tasks: a) Find the three pendants that will allow you to b) claim the fabled Master Sword, that will then allow you to c) confront and defeat Agahnim, thereby freeing the maidens and restoring peace to the land of Hyrule. At least, those are your three obvious objectives...

   The battle system is like the first game in the series, in that it is very Seiken Densetsu-ish. There is an overhead view and you slash your way through the scores of enemies and use whatever items you can get your hands on along the way. A new technique that appears in this game is the ability to do a power attack. Simply hold down the attack button for a couple of seconds, then release it to deliver a swinging slash attack. Returning from the Adventure of Link is the ability to use magic, except in this game rather than using a magic points-like system; you have a kind of power meter, which is depleted after every use of magic or a magic item. However, it is easily refillable with items found or dropped by enemies.

This place is cool
This place is cool  

   While the music fell under the evil sway of the "world map music, dungeon music, boss music, and THAT'S IT" trap, the music was very good. The tunes are very majestic sounding, and rivaled even the best tunes from the SNES Final Fantasy games. The dungeon music was particularly good, and gave a great sense of foreboding. The sound effects were equally good, everything from the slash of a sword to arrows bouncing off a shield sounded very realistic. This is definitely a strong point of the game.

   Most of the features of this game had been seen before. However, there were several new things, such as new items, the aforementioned power attack, the ability to dash, and multi-leveled terrain, plus the ability to jump off higher ground to the lower level. Also, the translation was fantastically done, and is a definite step up from the first two games. It blows away most other RPGs of it's time, and conveyed the terrific story very well.

   This game is very fun, which gives it a bit of replay value, but unfortunately that was about all that would make you want to play this game a second time. There wasn't much in the way of side quests, even though there were a few mini-games that merely served as somewhat of a diversion rather than a reason to play the game over. Still though, the game was a lot of fun, and in my opinion that warrants a second or third play through, especially when you consider that this isn't a particularly long game.

   The graphics were perhaps the best part of the game. Even though it came out in the Super Nintendo's infancy, the graphics were awesome, with a LOT of attention paid to backgrounds and character design. It rivals even the graphical monsters that came out late in the life of the SNES such as Final Fantasy 6 and Tales of Phantasia.

I've got a hole in my pyramid that goes all the way to China
I've got a hole in my pyramid that goes all the way to China  

   Unfortunately, this was somewhat of a short game. You could just blow through the game in about ten hours, but hunting down all the tools, heart containers and whatnot will tack on another two hours or so, bringing us to a grand total of roughly twelve hours.

This game was well done, and stayed true to the original's roots. It improved on the previous games in nearly every way, and definitely lived up to the hype and anticipation for the long-awaited third game in the Zelda series. It's definitely one to pick up if you see it lying in the used games bin at EB.


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