The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a game remembered fondly by many Zelda fans, and that is for a good reason. A Link to the Past is one of the best top down Zelda games, but the best Zelda games usually get sequels; Ocarina of Time got Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker got Phantom Hourglass (and Spirit Tracks), and Four Swords got Four Adventures, so where was A Link to the Past’s sequel? Although it took a long time to be made, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a game worth waiting for.
If you have played a top down Zelda game before, you know what to expect when it comes to A Link Between Worlds. This a game that you either like or hate before you play it; however, this game is so good, even if you don’t like the top down genre, you should still give A Link Between Worlds a try. A Link Between Worlds introduces an interesting mechanic. When you are pressed against a wall, you can merge with it and become a painting. You can walk along the wall without dropping below, so you can cross gaps. It is very original, and makes for some incredibly hard puzzles. Thankfully, the music is beautiful; it never feels repetitive, so it’s nice to be able to put down my 3DS and listen as I think of a solution to a puzzle. It is fun play as painting, and you do it so much that it is surprising they did not do anything more with the mechanic. Very late in the game, a new idea is added to the painting mechanic, and it is really fun. However, it is so late in the game that I couldn’t help but feel sad; why couldn’t you do more as a painting throughout the game?
Unlike other Zelda games, this one is different because you have (almost) every item available to you right off the bat. Just pay the low, low price of 800 Rupees and you can have any weapon you want. If you do not have enough Rupees, don’t worry; you can rent the items for only 50 Rupees, but you lose them all when you die. The prices of items in this game may seem high compared to other games, but A Link Between Worlds is to the Zelda franchise what New Super Mario Bros. 2 is to Mario. You can find many high value Rupees everywhere. It is common for an enemy to drop a Red Rupee when you defeat them.The open ended system of obtaining items carries over to the gameplay, too. Similar to Majora’s Mask, Lorule is divided into sections, with each one leading you to a different dungeon. They are all the same difficulty, so you are welcome to travel to whichever dungeon you like at any time, provided you have the correct items. The dungeons are very fun to explore, and have many tough puzzles to solve. Unfortunately, the dungeons in this game are quite short. I was able to clear most within an hour. That does not mean that the dungeons aren't fun; you will just clear them quicker than you might like to. The dungeons’ bosses are all great. Each one is very well designed, and can be very tricky, especially if you are playing in Master Quest. Master Quest is a mode that you unlock after beating the game, and doubles the game’s replayability. When you create a file in Master Quest mode, you will take four times the damage. A single hit is usually enough to finish you off. It forced me to try new tactics, which I enjoyed. I have usually regarded the shields and boomerangs as useless (besides in some puzzles) in Zelda games. In A Link Between Worlds, I upgraded the Boomerang first because it is extremely helpful when playing defensively.
Speaking of upgrading items, A Link Between Worlds has a very nice system for that. Mother Maimai has lost her baby Maimais, and if you find ten, she will upgrade one of your items, but only if you have bought that item. There are ten items to buy, so if you want to have the ultimate arsenal, you need to find all one-hundred Maimais that are scattered throughout Hyrule and Lorule, the two parallel universes you travel between. You will want to upgrade your items if you plan on challenging the Treacherous Tower. You can choose one of three difficulties, with each one costing more but allowing you to progress further in the tower. The hardest difficulty gives you fifty floors to traverse, each one filled with enemies. This gauntlet has very little breaks, and you can only leave the tower if you die; I don’t suggest going in unless you have at least four bottles. It is exciting to test the limits of your skills as you advance through the tower. The Tornado Rod is very useful here, and can easily dominate most floors; just watch your Magic Meter. For players that want even more challenge, there are small Rupee dungeons to find. These dungeons are not exactly dungeons; they are small, indoor caves that contain a chest with a Silver or Gold Rupee. In order to get to the chest, you complete a very difficult puzzle that usually has multiple steps. There are also ideas implemented here that are not in other places. The Rupee dungeons are unique and fun experiences, and even if you don’t need the money, I suggest checking them out.
Overall, A Link Between Worlds is a spectacular game, and is a worthy successor to A Link to the Past. The innovative item renting system is a great change to the Zelda formula, and the addition of Lorule allows A Link Between Worlds to resemble A Link to the Past without seeming like it copied it. A lot of the music is also orchestrated versions of the music from A Link to the Past; it is great to hear my favorite Zelda tracks in a new game. A Link Between Worlds is a welcome addition to my 3DS library, and it should certainly be added to yours, too.