I have at last completed The Legend of Zelda’s newest instalment, A Link Between Worlds, for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was brilliant and I haven’t enjoyed a Zelda game this much since the Wind Waker way back in 2003. But, that does not mean there were not flaws as well! And gamers, it’s time we all discussed it.
Well, for me, the best part of the game was the fact that it again explored the non-linear experience shown in the Wind Waker, in which you are given an entire world to explore at your own leisure. Hyrule is a vast and generally beautiful environment, filled to the brim with caves and secrets for you to unearth. Puzzles of course block your path, but once solved, you are able to discover a countless number of locations and rewards for your effort. These could vary from simple rupees, or great treasures you would boast about forever on.
The character Ravio, a merchant whom takes residence in your home during your adventure, sells you the weapons that in most Zelda games would be handed to you throughout the progression of the story. This way, you can explore certain places at your own leisure, rather than the narrative’s. If you see a blocked cave, you would run to Ravio for some bombs and you’ve got your own demolition project right on your own schedule. You are free to explore every zone at any time. It’s a pleasurable sense of freedom that is the path to exploring the entirety of Hyrule, and I enjoyed every second of it. It also takes out the annoyance of older titles in which you could see a secret but lacked the equipment to reach it.
But the biggest flaw, as with many Nintendo games, is that it’s been dome already. It’s still Link going through The Hero’s Journey, saving Zelda and defeating Ganon. It’s been that way since the very first instalment almost twenty years ago now! Things get stale and need a bigger retooling than simple gameplay mechanics or a novel idea here and there like sailing or renting. This franchise has spent a long time building the foundation of its history and its game, yet wastes the opportunity to completely revamp the franchise to something far better.
Despite the story being essentially the same as always, I was impressed by the introduction of Lorule, the parallel universe of sorts to Hyrule. Not in a sense of story, though. Story-wise, it was disgracefully simple – Lorule, Hyrule, Zelda, Hilda – I mean I know it’s a kids game but come on. What made it so great was the aspect of travelling between the two worlds. Not only did this expand the range of exploration by giving you not one, but two to discover, it also introduced came with the additional mechanic of traveling between worlds in order to uncover secrets, puzzles and levels. Link, with the power of becoming a 2-deminsional being, is able to pass between the rift between Lorule and Hyrule. The portals and Link’s two-dimensional powers add a new range of puzzles not yet seen in previous games, and is also a visually stimulating experience to watch in 3D.
In many ways however, there is almost too much to do all at once. With the freedom of choosing when to explore and gather special items and secrets, you could well go through the entire game without the essential tools that would help you through. Whether this is because you’re too lazy to explore or because the story is too enrapturing it does not matter, it still means you could miss out on gaining empty bottles for potions and fairies, essential weaponry improvement for easily defeating enemies, or gathering enough rupees to buy out Ravio’s shop. This sadly happened to me; I was so busy in the narrative and all the rest of the world that I did not discover the Maiamai, a great octopus creature that would greatly improve your weaponry if you collected her lost babies. This would have been of great help to me throughout the game, but because I was so occupied with everything else that the game offers, I never found her until very near the end of the game. It’s like Skyrim all over again – I just never know where to start!
Though flawed in several areas, no game is perfect for everyone – I would still say with ease that A Link Between Worlds is more right than it is wrong. It was a generally fantastic game, and near everything the game designers did was done right, well, and with careful and intelligent consideration, and kudos to them!
If you haven’t played it yet, I recommend that you should!
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