The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past- Review  

The Gold Standard
by Lucky Melchior

Less than 20 Hours
+ Excellent battle system.
+ Oustanding Soundtrack
+ Visuals take advantage of SNES upgrades.
+ Simple and effective menu system.
- Limited storyline
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   The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released in early 1992, in North America, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Since then it has not only held up as one of the greatest games for that system, but also as one of the greatest games of all time.

   The third title in the Zelda series returns to the famous Zelda battle system featured in the original opposed to the action RPG system in the second title. The overworld and dungeons are displayed from a top-down perspective. You encounter enemies in real-time in dungeons and on the overworld. You have a trusty sword, that you can hack and slash at enemies with; a shield to repel certain projectiles, both your sword and shield can be upgraded as you progress through the game, and a cache of other tools and equipment to use. These tools include many of those seen in the original such as bombs, bow & arrows & the power bracelet. However, A Link to the Past introduces a plethora of new tools, many of which will become staple tools in future installments, such as the hookshoot, the hammer and the Pegasus boots, which allow link to execute a dash attack. The game does keep some elements that were introduced in the second title as well, most notably magic. Link has a magic meter; three spells that he can learn, by finding magic medallions, and several magical items, such as the ice rod and fire rod, will deplete link's magic meter when used. The game of course features puzzle solving elements in each dungeon and there are plenty of secret caves and passageways found throughout the overworld and in the dungeons. The game also introduces the tiered dungeon system that will also be copied by many future installments. A Link to the Past essentially codifies the Zelda battle system and acts as the blueprint for all future titles in the series.

plenty of toys from which to choose. Plenty of toys from which to choose.

   The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a prequel to the original Legend of Zelda. As far as I can tell, this game takes place long before the events of the original Legend of Zelda, but long after the events of Ocarina of Time; of course the chronology of the Zelda series is always hotly contested. The game starts off with link being awoken in the middle of a dreary, stormy night, by Zelda who is telepathically contacting him requesting help. As he rises out of bed he sees that his Uncle is setting out armed and he tells Link to stay. At this point you take control of Link and of course follow. You find your Uncle mortally wounded and he gives you his sword and shield. You then take up the task of rescuing Zelda from the clutches of the mysterious, evil wizard Agahnim and unraveling the wizard's sinister plot. The story is more developed than the previous two titles. You will meet some interesting characters and the plot lays out much of the Zelda chronology, but is ultimately limited as is the case with most action adventure titles.

Detailed backgrounds Detailed backgrounds

   A Link to the Past has an outstanding soundtrack. The famous Zelda theme is featured as an orchestrated version for the overworld theme, you can even hear symbols crashing for certain parts. Almost every other track ranges from good to exceptional. The famous select screen/fairy theme is introduced in this game and it is an enjoyable melody. The sound effects are reasonably enjoyable as well. Overall A Link to the Past has outstanding aural presentation.

   The visual presentation is also well done. The game takes full advantage of the visual upgrades for the SNES compared to the NES. Many games released on this system for the next few years could not match A Link to the Past visually, see the first Lufia, etc. The sprites for NPCs and enemies are all reasonably sized and detailed. The environs and color scheme are excellent. There in an early scene where it is raining and the visuals portray that effect very well. The game has excellent graphics considering it's time and platform. If you are playing it on your Gameboy Adance or DS, it can still equal the graphics in many of the more modern Nintendo handheld games.

    The interaction and interface are excellent. Pressing the start button brings up the menu screen. The top left portion of the screen displays all of your tools and you can select which item is equipped to the "Y" button. The lower left portion of the screen displays the unequipable items which automatically are used by using the action button "A" for example dashing using the Pegasus boots or swimming using the flippers. The right portion of the screen displays how many artifacts you have collected; your equipment, sword, shield and armor; and how many pieces of heart you have collected so far. Pressing the "X" button brings up the map. On the overworld there are two maps, a zoomed in detailed map that appears first and a zoomed out map which shows the whole overworld on the screen. Actually controlling your character is simple and easy as well. You can now move your character diagonally unlike the strict north, south, east and west interface seen in the original Legend of Zelda. Overall, A Link to the Past has excellent interaction with the player.

   The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past is a landmark game in the Zelda series. It expanded on the Zelda formula introduced in the first while incorporating elements from the second game. It is the standard by which all future Zelda games are judged. If you have never played a Zelda game or have only played later Zelda titles, I highly recommend picking up this game as soon as you can. It's port to the GBA or Virtual Console on the Wii are more likely avenues to play this game today than the SNES version.

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