The Legend of Zelda franchise always brings something new to the table with every installment. A Link Between Worlds is certainly no different. The plus side to this game is that with every single change and new additions, it’s usually a good thing. A Link Between Worlds is the direct sequel to the Super Nintendo classic, 2D side-scroller hit A Link To The Past. Many elements from the Super Nintendo hit game are prominent in this sequel. The game has many features from Link to the Past, but not so many that it feels like a rehash. This game offers many new additions and features, making it the most innovative Zelda game to date. Perhaps the biggest attraction this game has towards me is the lack of hand-holding.
A Link Between Worlds treats gamers like adults and makes us think and utilize strategies to achieve our goal. This is a major shift from past Zelda titles, or even from many Nintendo titles in general. This game doesn’t clearly point out the answer to all problems or serve it up on a silver platter for the lazy gamers. It actually requires you to utilize your mind and decide how to tackle the various mind-bending puzzles in order to complete the game’s various missions. And speaking of puzzles, there are plenty of it to master.
This game also excels at quickly getting the player directly involved in the game. Instead of wasting time on collectables or pointless backtracking, it simply is a straight forward adventure that’s just full of fun and excitement just as soon as you start playing it. There’s a beautiful rich overworld filled with all sorts of hidden goodies and puzzles to solve. It doesn’t feel gimmicky in any way and is actually fun to just wander around the overworld to explore its nooks and crannies. In fact the graphics for this game are nothing short of amazing. They are a joy to look at and have a very fun, inviting, cartoonish feel to them. This is actually a strong point for the game. Getting lost or just walking around can be fun too just because of the nice visuals and gorgeous game environments.
The details on the characters are surprisingly better than expected for a 3DS game. Even enemies have a much richer sense of depth and detail, to the point where I can enjoy and appreciate their designs in a whole new way. What I love most about the game designs is that they’re not only throwbacks to Link to the Past, but they also have their own original touches added to them. A Link Between Worlds is a nostalgia packed game for fans of the classic 2D side scrolling Zelda, but yet at the same time manages to reinvent the franchise all over again with wonderful new features.
One of the biggest new additions to this game is the item rental system. No longer do players have to search high and low in dungeons to find that one special item. Instead, a new charming character by the name of Ravio is introduced to us. Ravio has a nice little shop set up where Link can actually rent many of the mainstream Zelda items such as the boomerang or bombs, but at the same time also offers new items and weapons such as the fire rod. This system is introduced very early in the game. This also allows for things we’ve missed from recent Zelda games, like the ability to play dungeons in multiple orders. Having the ability to rent items you want allows for different path choices throughout the game, thus making it less linear and takes the focus off of having to move in a course the designers may have intended. This allows for a more sandbox like game environment where gamers can do things in any order they please, which makes the game more enjoyable and fun in my opinion.
The item rental does come at a cost however. Whenever Link dies, any rented items he owns will be lost. This can become a major annoyance especially when Link is low on health while he is in the middle of a dungeon. On the flip side, it does make the game more challenging and suspenseful when compared to previous Zelda titles. The dungeons themselves feel fresh and new, while at the same time paying homage to Link to the Past. One thing that A Link Between Worlds has mastered is the use of 3D effects. As a 3DS owner, I couldn’t be more excited to finally get some use out of the 3D effect on my 3DS system. Most games I play I almost never use the 3D technology based on the fact that there’s no incentive or reason to do so. It just doesn’t work. However, A Link Between worlds makes the 3D work beautifully.
Of course, I couldn’t write this review without mentioning one major new mechanic of the game. With just the press of a button, Link can flatten himself into a wall, much like a painting. This offers a brand new perspective on the surrounding area, and allows the players new multiple abilities, such as hiding from enemies, or finding a secret passageway. Like I said before, A Link Between Worlds doesn’t waste time at all with tutorials and such, or with a practice run on getting acquainted with the controls like how we have seen with past Zelda games. In fact, players will hit the ground running within the first five minutes of the game as soon as Link climbs out of bed. He’ll soon be dropped right into the game’s first dungeon. For me, this is perhaps the best thing about this game. Nintendo is notorious for holding your hands and guiding you through the beginning of the majority of their games as if we all have an IQ of a 5 year old. This is what makes A Link Between Worlds a breath of fresh air. Instead of a giant sign sitting in front of me telling me where to go, or an annoying fairy following me around giving me advice every 5 seconds, A Link Between Worlds assumes that gamers are more equipped to handle and learn the game on their own with ease , and that is a strong plus in my book.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a beautifully crafted 3D adventure that Zelda fans and 3DS owners alike will love.