The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Reader Re-Retroview  

Triforce of the Gods
by Jeremy Michael Gallen

Very Easy
Less than 20 Hours
+ Solid gameplay.
+ Excellent controls.
+ Great soundtrack.
+ Beautiful visuals.
- Somewhat light on story.
- Translation was censored somewhat.
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   In the land of Hyrule, legends tell of a Golden Power in a place known as the Golden Land, which many aggressively sought to enter, only to never return. One day, evil power began to flow from the Golden Land, so the king commanded seven wise men to seal the gate there. Then a mysterious wizard named Agahnim came to Hyrule, killing the king and making the descendants of the seven wise men vanish one by one. Among them is Princess Zelda, who telepathically communicates with a hero named Link one rainy night to rescue her and prevent the Golden Power from falling into the wrong hands. Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods, renamed The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for foreign audiences, was the franchise's first installment for the Super NES, and has, despite being over a decade and a half old, aged considerably well.

   Link starts his quest with a sword and a shield, the latter he can used to block enemy projectiles (with two upgrades), and the former he can use to hack away at enemies (with three upgrades), although he can "charge" his blade and perform a handy swirl attack against surrounding foes, or hold it out charged to repel and damage enemies that touch it. Link also gets various tools, such as a boomerang (which can stun enemies or obtain distant items), a bow and arrows, bombs, and so forth, that can damage enemies and are sometimes necessary to advance through dungeons.

   Some of Link's tools also consume part of his magic meter, with his health and magic points restored respectively through hearts and potions occasionally dropped from killed enemies. As with previous Zeldas, hearts comprise Link's health, with players able to find Pieces of Heart during his adventure, four of which lengthen his health meter with another heart. Bosses at the end of dungeons also require some semblance of strategy, and also yield an extra heart when defeated. Normal enemies occasionally drop other random goods when defeated, such as bombs, arrows, and the game's chief currency, Rupees.

The insurance folk will have a field day Should have gotten ziggurat insurance

   Link, furthermore, can acquire four bottles into which the player can put recovery potions, bees, fairies, and so forth, which can actually be the difference between victory and defeat against late-game bosses. Even with the strategy necessary for most bosses, beating Link to the Past isn't exactly rocket science as long as the player has some form of healing, and ultimately, combat is the game's highlight, with no serious problems of which to speak.

   The interface in A Link to the Past is fairly efficient, with an easy menu system for switching Link's current tool, useful maps in and out of dungeons, enjoyable exploration and puzzles, and a decent sense of how to advance the game (though virgins to the game not used to scouring every corner of the world or good at uncovering secrets could possibly get stuck at a few points), and so forth. All in all, the controls don't leave much room for improvement.

   A Link to the Past returns to the strict overhead perspective introduced in the first Zelda, and features many gameplay elements from the first installment, as well, such as the use of tools to advance through dungeons, not to mention a few elements introduced in the second game such as magic. Story elements such as Link, Zelda, Ganon, Hyrule, and so forth, return, as well, though the first Super NES Zelda does feature some new elements, such as two whole worlds to explore, many improvements in the battle system, and so forth, to keep it sufficiently fresh.

   As in the previous Zeldas, though, the plot mostly consists of backstory, although it actually contains more detail, and is better told and paced throughout the game. The translation is capable, although Nintendo of America censored all religious references, and there is occasional Engrish such as "The soldiers are coming to Sanctuary!" Overall, the story certainly isn't a reason to play the game, although it was, as some would say, "good for its time."

Don't fall Nice view

   Koji Kondo's soundtrack, however, is another of the game's high points, with most tracks being solid, such as the overworld and dungeon themes, and what the music lacks in quantity, it definitely makes up for in quality. The sound effects are fitting, as well, though there are some minor oddities such as the "oof" sound soldiers make when noticing and charging Link, but otherwise, A Link to the Past is a very pleasant-sounding game.

   The first SNES Zelda is a pleasant-looking game, as well, with nice, colorful environs and reasonably-diverse character and enemy sprites, though there are some that look a bit odd, such as Agahnim, and some minor environmental peculiarities, such as the ham gardens in the courtyard of Hyrule Castle. Even so, A Link to the Past looked very nice for a 16-bit title, with the visuals having aged decently along with the game.

   Finally, the third Zelda is a fairly short game, with seasoned players able to finish it in around seven hours or less, while inexperienced gamers might take longer. All in all, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was a solid transition of the series from the eight to sixteen-bit era, with solid gameplay, control, sound, and visuals. The third installment is, as was and would be the case with other entries into the series, light on story, but A Link to the Past has undoubtedly stood the test of time better than its NES predecessors and even a few of its successors, and really, those who haven't played it haven't played Zelda.

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