The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past represents one of the seminal titles in video game history, a turning point for the entire industry, a game design masterpiece as well as the pinnacle of the two-dimensional series.
At the same time, however, A Link to The Past has put in writing the fundamental points of a game formula that, in fact, has traveled over 20 years through countless sequences without substantial variations; a factor that, although it has delivered to the history books a series of titles that have practically formed entire generations of players, on the other hand inevitably led to a probably excessive calcification of the franchise. The full awareness of the need for renewal is now fully established even at the top floors of Nintendo, starting with producer Eiji Aonuma who has often indicated the future and so far completely mysterious chapter for Wii U as that turning point from which to build the new life of Zelda. Yet you don't have to wait that long to start appreciating changes in the classic formula of Link's adventures; yes because, in a way that is anything but expected, it is since this new episode for Nintendo 3DS that the Kyoto house has chosen to demonstrate how ferment and innovation are not irreconcilable terms with the events that take place in the kingdom of Hyrule.
A Link to the Past?
Claiming that a quote game like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a source of renewal for the franchise might seem like something of a joke; on the other hand, since its announcement, this unprecedented episode for the Nintendo laptop has done nothing to hide the more than obvious references to the Super Nintendo masterpiece we have just talked about.
Yet, believe it or not, despite the fact that we are talking about a chapter that is absolutely and totally recognizable both in appearance and in gameplay, A Link Between Worlds is a courageous example of how the brand can still have a lot to say without losing even a shred of its identity.. And it is appropriate to thank for the existence of Nintendo 3DS, an environment in which shuffling the cards of a much loved title is possible and not excessively risky. And so here is that the team led by Aonuma and directed by Hiromasa Shikata has managed to give life to one of the most interesting Zelda of recent years, an episode that - after a couple of hours of initial loss - gets into a very high gear for the whole time until the end credits. Let's start by saying, however, that the plot is certainly not where the designers have chosen to focus their efforts, on the contrary it probably represents the only real weakness of the entire package: we are in fact once again in the context of a Link that turns out to be a hero in the moment in which Princess Zelda is kidnapped and transformed into a painting, along with seven sages, by the evil of the moment called Yuga.
Unfortunately, the characters turn out to be stereotyped, not very incisive and poorly characterized; throughout the adventure the narrative almost always remains on a secondary level, barely hinted at, with no dialogue or interlude of particular importance except for a couple of key moments necessary to justify the hero's actions. In this sense, if it is true then that Nintendo probably could and should have done something more, it is equally true that in fact the entire attention of the game is rather naturally directed towards the gameplay and the mechanics offered. In fact, it is enough to pass the prologue to come into possession of Link's main ability in this chapter, namely the ability to transform himself into a stylized portrait of him on walls or walls simply by pressing A in proximity to them. The beauty is that then, in the form of a drawing, you can move along this surface, on a purely two-dimensional plane. A magic, which in practical terms opens the doors to a multitude of applications within every environment and situation of the entire story. Is there only a gap between one room and another? Not bad, just enter the wall to pass through. Or does that platform seem unreachable? Maybe walking along the wall starting from the opposite side of the room you can get there. It goes without saying that the level design has been finely and perfectly studied to make the most of this ability, and on this aspect there is very little to say: Nintendo remains one of the best developers, if not the best ever, when it comes to to make all the pieces fit together, giving an unassailable continuity and coherence. And in the specific case of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, the result is truly exceptional.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is an extraordinary chapter between tradition and novelty
First the money and then the health
It is not necessary to wait too long to discover that also in this chapter, as in A Link to the Past, the main narrative device is supported by the existence of two parallel worlds, namely the sunny and colorful Hyrule and the gloomy and gloomy Lorule.
In fact the two kingdoms are the mirror of each other on a geographical level, even if in reality there are many differences: to be clear, the forest, the mountains, the lake and the castle for example are in the same place in both cases, but only visiting them you can realize that what they contain is actually almost completely different. The citation of the masterpiece for Super Nintendo does not stop there, however, because it is the game map itself that testifies to a high resemblance to the places visited at the time, to the point of unleashing an immediate nostalgia effect in every self-respecting fan of the series. But we were talking about the two worlds; Link can in fact pass easily between one and the other, always through the power to transform himself into a painting, thanks to what are in fact portals, represented by dark cracks on the walls in different areas scattered almost everywhere. And the continuous journey between Hyrule and Lorule is a key aspect, because the possibility of reaching otherwise inaccessible areas in one or another kingdom is based on it.. Although it may initially appear a little alienating, in reality the balance and continuity of A Link Between Worlds always remains firmly in place, to the point that we have never found ourselves stuck or without clues as to how to proceed. Even if this happens anyway, the team has come up with an intelligent solution: putting on a pair of magical glasses you can meet next to the individual puzzles of the funny ghosts, called Fantaiuto, who at the cost of a StreetPass token can give a precious suggestion on how to continue. . But what is probably the greatest break with the past is to be found in the management of objects, which for the first time is almost completely unrelated to their discovery in dungeons.
And we will tell you more: after a very short time it will be possible to have in your inventory practically all the various boomerangs, bow, bombs, hammer, grappling hook and so on, without having to submit to the now classic "timing" imposed by the previous chapters of the series. This time, in fact, things are different, because the merchant Lavio will settle in Link's house with what is in fact a shop in which to rent and buy the tools to be able to face the adventure. Let's talk about rental, yes; at the cost of a rather reasonable handful of rupees (50-100) you can in fact borrow any object, and take it with you freely everywhere ... but with a limitation. In the event of death, in fact, everything that was rented will be lost and returned to the Lavio shop, thus requiring a new expense to be able to get it back. Later in the game, the possibility also appears to be able to buy any object definitively, avoiding the above problem, but in this case the figures start to rise a lot (800-1200). What may seem like a simple gimmick actually constitutes a turning point of extraordinary importance and effectiveness for the very way in which you go to deal with a Zelda.: said goodbye to the rhythm marked by dungeon - object - dungeon, in an imposed and impassable linearity, now on the contrary the player is faced with an almost unprecedented freedom for the series, thanks to a range of possibilities and abilities that immediately they place very few stakes on what can and cannot be done. Although there are still a handful of objects to be recovered in precise moments of the adventure, the solution adopted by Nintendo in A Link Between Worlds maintains an extraordinary strength and incisiveness, which at the same time is supported by an equally impeccable quality and solidity of the level design. Obviously, consequently, the economic aspect, the collection of rupees, which on the contrary in the past has almost always been a very underdeveloped element, also assumes very significant importance; in this case, however, every rupee counts, and for this reason there are no limits to the capacity of one's purse right from the start. Finding such an economic priority in a Zelda is something completely new, and really fun.
The 3D effect
As mentioned in the text of the review, the three-dimensional effect in A Link Between Worlds behaves perfectly, adding an element of depth without ever appearing intrusive or annoying. Even in some situations, the typical Nintendo 3DS feature is also useful for gameplay purposes, providing a better assessment of the distance of platforms placed on different levels between them. In short, the advice is to play with the lever on ON.
The princess is in another castle
Removing the "reward" of the object to be obtained inside a dungeon could lead to believe that the exploration of the same loses its value and importance. If it is undoubtedly true that A Link Between Worlds lacks that gratification like opening gifts under the Christmas tree, nevertheless the phases of crossing what is now a key element of Zelda have not suffered too much from the change of plans.
And this above all thanks, also in this case, to a superfine design with no real weaknesses, with a great variety of puzzles but above all an absolutely perfect difficulty setting; in our experience we have never run into dead spots or frustrating ones, but at the same time neither have sequences so easy to mortify the necessary need for a sufficient level of challenge. The dungeons are several, not very large but extremely dense, fun, rewarding and above all different from each other. The normal sense of dejà-vù that is destined to touch the most experienced connoisseurs of the franchise is never expressed in the guise of the recycling of ideas as an end in itself, but rather in the necessary feeling of continuity and fidelity with the unique atmosphere of the Zelda . Excellent work also with regard to the bosses, all quite interesting, even if perhaps a little easy and never of such size as to enhance the epicity of the clashes, as has been the case in the most recent chapters for home consoles. From a technical point of view, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds continues to wink at the inspiration for Super Nintendo by offering a virtually identical view, a bird's eye view slightly tilted a few degrees to ensure the effect of depth. This is an absolutely ideal solution to support the "classic" gameplay formula of the series, and in fact there are never situations in which you find yourself getting frustrated by the positioning of the camera; what is not seen, which is not framed, or has no value or is purposely hidden to whet the player's exploration and curiosity. A case in point are the rupees or hearts drawn on the walls, which can only be seen and recovered when one finds oneself exploring that apparently uninteresting wall in the form of a painting.
Precisely because walking on the walls the point of view instantly passes parallel to Link, at ground level, it is obvious that an entirely 3D graphic engine is needed; and indeed A Link Between Worlds is based on a very valid polygonal engine, so good that the angularity typical of a choice of this type almost disappears on hardware that is certainly not extraordinary like that of Nintendo 3DS., bringing the final yield and the feeling very close to that of A Link to the Past. A result of great quality then, with a good level of detail and convincing textures, and which never lends itself to uncertainties in the frame rate. The only note that we feel we can move, while realizing that it is an element rather linked to personal tastes, lies in the character design characterized by a style that is not particularly exciting. But it really is the classic nit. On the other hand, the use of the three-dimensional effect is interesting, never intrusive but well-balanced and effective especially with some elements (see the flying hand in the Bone Wood) or in certain dungeons (as in Ice Ruins) in which the positioning of the platforms on various levels of height is rendered to perfection by the peculiar characteristic of the Nintendo console. The orchestrated musical accompaniment is also extraordinary, enhancing the quantity and quality of the pieces present; The days of MIDI are very far away, but sure enough, and for this reason it is particularly recommended to use headphones to better appreciate the work of Nintendo's musicians. Very good longevity, which alongside a more than sufficient duration of the main adventure (the lack of a counter prevents us from giving a precise value, but we are still roughly around 10 hours going straight with our heads down) adds numerous and interesting quests secondary - such as the useful and fun collection of maimai - and several mini-games in which you can try to increase your loot by rupees. Finally, without forgetting the heroic mode, to be unlocked once the adventure is over.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds walks on a very thin thread, trying to renew the classic formula of the series without distorting the characteristics that have made it one of the most popular and loved among gamers over the course of almost thirty years of life. The end result, however, is, fortunately, exceptional: although absolutely recognizable and familiar from the first moment, A Link Between Worlds manages with courage to shuffle some of the most important cards within the Zelda gameplay economy, offering an intriguing, engaging solution. , fun and capable of restoring a certain degree of freedom to the player without ever leaving him lost or disoriented. Combining all this with an extraordinary level design and a technical component of great value, what is obtained is by far one of the best examples of the extraordinary dignity and importance of portable gaming even at the dawn of the next gen home.
- Perfectly successful novelties in the game formula
- Extraordinary level design
- Perfectly calibrated level of difficulty
- Excellent technical component
- Trivial, stereotyped and not very incisive plot