A direct sequel to the classic, A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one Zelda game to come along in a long time that few have found an excuse to complain about. Borrowing freely from the map and gameplay of its predecessor, A Link Between Worlds manages to be quite a unique experience in itself.
In fact, there were many aspects of the game that were completely new to the franchise, but not an unwelcome change at all. The new system of weaponry was one of the most interesting things I encountered in the game. I was pleasantly surprised when I received the lantern at the beginning of the game and found that it didn’t require oil. Later I discovered that there was, in fact, no ammo system in The Link Between Worlds. Unlike in previous iterations of the franchise where weapons and items were mostly received as part of a dungeon or side-quest, the game introduced a rental method of achieving items, at least until you get to the point in the game where you have the option of buying them. This created a precarious situation not only because every time you die, reach a “game over” and have to continue, you lose all your rented items and have to pay to rent them again, but because of the use of what was previously known as a “magic meter”. Most of the items and weaponry can only be used when the meter is still filled. While much like the magic meter in Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, this meter can be replenished with a potion, but the purple potion is not as abundantly available, thus requiring the player to calculate every item usage.
The dungeons were short but still involved interesting puzzles that tax one’s reasoning skills. The side-quests and mini-games, for the most part, were interesting and as usual, made up for most of the gameplay time, several of which also provided an opportunity to collect more money, in order to go along with the rental system of items. The boss battles did disappoint me at certain points. Some of them were as expected from a handheld Zelda game while the others were straight out simplistic.
While the game didn’t focus on character development and story quite as much as previous Zelda games, the gameplay was immersive enough to more than cover up for that fact. The non-linear open-ended structure of the game was also completely new to the franchise. The player doesn’t necessarily go about solving the dungeons in a specific order. This was an aspect that complemented the side-quest heavy gameplay very well. Even though one may not get as attached to these characters as ones in the other games, I still found many of them to exhibit amusing and humorous dialogues, nevertheless.
One thing that I was expecting in the game that I was disappointed not to find was the implementation of the microphone and touchscreen in gameplay, like in DS games of the Zelda franchise. But I guess those were put in to stretch the DS’s legs and the controls were pretty good in A Link Between Worlds anyway. Not to mention, the game made pretty good use of the 3DS’s unique features too. The graphics were pretty awesome, and while I didn’t feel the need to play every part of the game in 3D, some of the cutscenes simply left me in awe.
A Link Between Worlds not only displayed several charming points of similarity with A Link to the Past, it created an immersive world of its own. Despite the lore not being as deep as several other games in the franchise, the lands of both Hyrule and Lorule in the game were enough to get lost in, in the most wonderful sense!
Should you play it? YES!
This is one of the best titles to hit the 3DS and is a necessary experience for every 3DS owner. Being a sequel to A Link to the Past, it is something older fans of the Zelda franchise will enjoy immensely, as well as newer fans. In fact, despite being a handheld game, it is so much more of a title worth playing than Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, in terms of gameplay. This game is definitely a must play.