Why A Link to the Past is the Best Zelda Game ever made
The quality of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past cannot be ignored. From the beautiful animated graphics and orchestra sounds. To the finer details that are ever so subtle. A link to the past belongs to an era where game design was in it’s prime and is one of the greatest games of all time.
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So what makes a link to the past so great, What has given it the gravitational pull throughout time. Today you will find out.
Legend of Zelda (NES)
It all started with The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to deliver something unique, something unlike the traditional platformer experience. As a result, he brought to you something that captured his childhood experiences of exploring the countryside's of Japan.
He wanted you to feel exploration of the lakes, forests, fields, mountains, deserts and graveyards of the Hyrule Kingdom. The top down adventure was the first game that I’ve ever played that doesn’t feature moving from left to right to finish each stage. The ability to explore and choose your own path was an experience left to be discovered.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link went in a different direction than the first Legend of Zelda. Removing the top down perspective in favor of a side scrolling action. It added RPG elements that are outright fun to level up link’s abilities.
Although Zelda 2 wasn’t received well by some, The game was undeniably successful as a sequel of a franchise that many hold dear to our hearts.
Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past
Fast forward to the launch of the Super Nintendo. Miyamoto’s team was hard at work with developing three new games. Two new franchises PilotWings and F Zero. Each of these games demonstrated the capabilities of Nintendo’s new hardware and Mode 7 graphics.
Super Mario World was also in the mix to receive the 16 bit treatment. Each of these three games are special in their own regards and allowed for a fresh Miyamoto to focus his attention toward his next project A Link to the Past.
The third Zelda game was actually intended to be released on the Nintendo Entertainment System but was quickly moved over to utilize Nintendo’s new hardware the Super Famicom.
Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past was the first in it’s series to feature the standard grey cartridge color that most SNES games had, unlike the gold cartridges that you’re accustomed to seeing on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
A return to it’s roots, A link to the past brings back the top down perspective. Everything that made the original Zelda so memorable is here and has been greatly expanded on. At the time, most Super Nintendo games featured a 4 meg cartridge. A link to the past was able to deliver on a Richer atmosphere, deeper sound and excellent controls that are all presented by using double the capacity of the cartridge. The super Nintendo featured the greatest graphical leap in gaming history.
My first experience with a link to the past was courtesy of my local blockbuster video. I waited weeks to experience this piece of gaming history and finally when the clerk put the game in the case, I couldn’t wait for that car ride home to be over. I knew I was about to experience something special with the sun glaring down at this masterpiece as I held it in my hands.
As I opened the clamshell case, took out the cartridge and turned on my SNES, at first I thought my eyes were deceiving me, Oh thank god it must have been me. No wait, the copy I had rented was in French. It cannot be! Now this didn’t stop me from continuing my adventure. Hearing the rain for the first time through my speakers, wandering outside the castle, finding that hidden entrance to Hyrule Castle that let me in to pick up the sword and shield. Making it through the front door of Hyrule Castle, and I tell you, it was nothing short of magic.
Back in the mists of time before the era of the first two adventures, Hyrule was a land of Magic and wonderful Palaces. Hyrule was also a troubled land and the divisions of light and dark are tearing it apart. With the coming of the Triforce and greed of Ganondorf the king of thieves.
To understand Hyrule and Link’s desperate quest, you must know the ancient legend of the Triforce. In the Ancient world, the Triforce was hidden from people. Gannon and his band of Thieves were set out to find the secret entrance to the Golden Land and eventually stumbling upon it. Gannon then turned on his fellow thieves, killing them and possessing the Triforce.
The king of Hyrule brought forward seven wise men to seal the door to the golden land. Putting a pause on Gannon’s evil power spilling forth. At this time the master sword was forged but there was no hero strong enough to wield it.
Little did they know, a hero would be there. A hero like no other who was sent a telepathic plea by Princess Zelda as she was kidnapped.
Link is then set out to rescue princess Zelda. But discovers that he must Find the three Pendants burred in distinct Palaces on the map. After completing the first Palace, Link will speak to the Elder Sahasralla and be rewarded with the Pegasus boots, not only letting link run faster but unlocking items that let you progress further.
Finally when you complete the third Palace and receive the final pendant, Link will now be able to step up to the task and pick up the master sword. This is crucial to defeat Agahnim, unlocking the dark world Link is transported to another dimension in the quest against Gannon.
Miyamoto’s dream of bringing you the same childhood experiences is now amplified as it was brought to Nintendo’s 16 bit console. Forests brought you a dark and gloomy atmosphere. Fields are now vibrant and colorful, you are able to truly feel like you were climbing death mountain. Walking on the shallow part of the water, hearing your footsteps. Walk too far in and link might drown.
Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past made you feel like this magical world on a television set was brought to life right in front of your eyes. Bosses like the Armos Knight or Helmasaur King were bigger, stronger and faster than anything we’ve ever seen on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Enemies like the sword knight would now charge forward at you, forcing you to react quickly.
Wandering around Hyrule Kingdom is a pleasure to explore. searching for Rupees, Picking up boulders to discover new caves, to finding power ups like Zora's Flippers that allow you to swim in water, or picking up pieces of hearts that make link stronger.
There are settle touches that make navigating through Hyrule ever so remarkable. From the animals running towards link on his way through Hyrule Forest, To friends like Kiki the monkey helping you along your way.
Throughout Link’s journey he’ll stumble upon fairies that bring you full health or upgrade your weapon carrying abilities. You can also catch them with the bug net and put them into bottles where you can either release them to heal or bring you back to life during a tough boss battle. There’s also a blacksmith that can power up links master sword. The exploration in a link to the past is nothing short but timeless.
As you explore through each of the dungeons, solving puzzles and finding keys you’ll have to worry about falling through holes in the ground, slipping around on the ice, using your torch to light candles to illuminate the path forward. Picking up the map or compass will help guide you through each dungeon, giving you the freedom to plan your next move to pick up the big key that will lead you to the item that can be used against the bosses that stand before you.
There are a plethora of items that you’ll encounter along your journey through Hyrule Kingdom.
A bow and arrow that lets you kill off Eyegore’s in a pinch. Bombs that let you blow up parts of a wall unlocking new areas and items, or the brand new Hook Shot that lets Link to travel across large gaps or pick up hard to reach items or stun enemies. An item that was so memorable that it was brought forward in the next Zelda release on a home console Orcarina of Time.
Apart from the standard items used to dig, retrieve a weapon or use a magic ability you’ll also find medallions that can send out a ring of fire so strong, creating a series of small explosions in all directions or where Ether attacks through the atmosphere sending lightning or frost an enemy’s way.
The music in a link to the past composed by Koji Kondo brought you a timeless soundtrack that complemented the atmosphere perfectly. Every song and environment fit close together like pieces to a puzzle. From the strokes on the Drums as you make your way through Hyrule Castle. The way the flutes catch your attention as you make your way through Hyrule Forest. To the trumpet valves blowing away in the overworld.
But what makes a link to the past so special is how the gameplay blends with the wonderfully drawn character animations, atmosphere and sound so well. Each individual element bringing forward the absolute best it can be, collectively contributing to a product that exceeds the components it’s comprised from.
The suspense builds as Link carefully navigates through each dungeon, hearing his footsteps walking through the water. Lighting up torches to reveal hidden entrances as the music changes leading up to each magnificent boss battle.
Transporting to the dark world adds to the exploration experience and is something we have not experienced before to a Zelda game. Use of the Magic Mirror allows you to find new areas or pick up items that were slightly out of reach otherwise. The concept of travelling left it’s mark on future Zelda releases Ocarina of Time and a Link between worlds.
As you make your way through the seven dungeons in the dark world, the seven maidens rescued will open up Gannon’s tower where you’ll face off against Gannon. As Ganondorf found the Triforce, he was transformed into this boar like daemon Gannon. When link finally does defeat Gannon, he’ll be rewarded with a staircase that reveals the Triforce, destroying the dark world and restoring the light world to it’s former glory.
The lights fade and the ending is shown. A sense of accomplishment runs through your veins as you’ve done it. All of the exploration of Hyrule Kingdom has come to an end. Link gets his uncle back, the king is returned and link is able to put the master sword back “forever” or at least until the next Zelda game?
The The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has made it’s mark in gaming history.
The gameplay mechanics are used time and time again, It’s graphical design that makes you feel like a cartoon is brought to life, the use of new instruments in it’s groundbreaking soundtrack, and fantastic core gameplay.
Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past is a masterpiece that should be experienced by generations to come.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is also available on the SNES Classic Edition.