The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Review

The Legend of Zelda series has returned and while this one did feel like it’s visually improved a whole lot over the original titles…I can’t give it too much credit either. My main issue with the game is one that tends to occur with a lot of older RPGs which is that the game isn’t too clear on what you’re supposed to do. Towards the end this starts to come back to bite you as the final boss is completely invincible without very specific weapons. This means it’s time to backtrack once again and it gets rough. There are areas that show promise here but ultimately the game just feels too dated and ends up being a miss for me.

The general plot is that Link is called into action to save Princess Zelda. She is in a lot of trouble because a new evil threat has arrived and the castle is taken down. Link must rescue a bunch of princesses and grab some super powerful weapons in order to save Zelda. He definitely needs to hurry but if he can pull this off then it will truly be one of the ultimate feats of a hero. Get ready for a long journey.

This game feels a bit longer than the first ones. You not only have the first hub world to go through but after clearing that then there is a whole second part of the game where you go to all of the areas again but this time in the dark world. So there is a lot going on here for sure but fortunately you actually have a good map this time around. That is massive to have here because without a map you’d be getting lost constantly. It’s a really good upgrade here and near the end of the game you also get a quick travel option. Yes, the quick travel is very limited but it still beats walking everywhere.

Only thing I would change would be how moving between the different worlds works. Instead of only being able to do it at designated areas or using the mirror to go to the light world, you should be able to move between both worlds freely. This would be way more convenient and would be a substantial improvement if you ask me. Not having that ability just slows you down throughout the game and at times you have to backtrack a lot just so that you can change worlds. This doesn’t seem like a necessary feature.

Of course my biggest gripe with the game is how you have to go back and complete side missions that you never remember encountering in order to fight the final boss. There is no indication of what exactly you need either so I don’t think I would have ever figured it out without a guide. To be extra sneaky, for the final boss you can’t even tell that you’re hurting him and just have to keep swinging until he goes down. I had assumed I wasn’t attacking the right way and tried switching things up only to find that it had been working. A little sneaky but not in a good way.

On the positives side, the game does look nice as I mentioned before. This is an SNES game that really used the visuals to its advantage. The soundtrack is also on point with a lot of really memorable tunes. The series is really able to hold its own against against the Mario series with its wide array of themes at the ready. While you’re playing, the game at least looks and sounds really good so that’s also a plus.

I would also say that in terms of raw gameplay the game is solid as well. Overhead Link style may not be my favorite and occasionally you will get hit and feel like that shouldn’t have really hurt you but still, it’s a good style and it can even be a little difficult at times. You need quick reaction times in order to win here. In terms of replay value there is a good amount with a lot of areas to explore and collectibles to find. Don’t expect that you will get all of them in one playthrough as they can be hidden really well.

The dungeons are also crafted better than normal as most of the puzzles in there actually made a lot of sense. Getting to the dungeons is the hard part but once you’re there, then you’re good. If the hub world was a little less confusing and there were less mandatory items that you needed, then the game really could have gotten a thumbs up. I would say this one just had some missed opportunities for me but if you enjoy the exploration aspect of the game and have fun uncovering the secrets within the world then you should have a good time here.

I can’t picture playing this one without the Switch Online features or a guide at the ready because it would just take too long though. So it really depends on what you’re looking for in a game. I tend to want to just blast through to the good parts and enjoy the boss fights so backtracking doesn’t feel great unless the game is super smooth like Shantae or something like that. Give me a good indicator of where I need to go or the general location of a collectible and I won’t mind going back to have to grab it. If it’s something I have to find out with no clues so I have to talk to everyone and run around, then it doesn’t work quite as well for me.

Overall, A Link to the Past is okay but I wouldn’t directly recommend it. You should check out Skyward Sword instead or Wind Waker. That said, if you do like the retro Nintendo games then you can access this one for free with the Nintendo Switch Online subscription so you can’t really go wrong there. Who doesn’t like playing games for free right? One of these days I’ll grab one of the more modern overhead LoZ games and then we’ll really see how they have amped up the quality of life features since the SNES days.

Overall 5/10

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