The Ninjabot

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review: One of the Best 3DS Games Ever

Posted on December 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm by Victor Chaves


I love this game. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a fantastic title full of adventure that makes you constantly want to keep exploring the familiar-yet-different world of Hyrule and Lorule. Although not a direct sequel, the game does take place in the world shown in the Super Nintendo game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and even though one may decry Nintendo for not being original, I must say that this game sets a lot of different ideas forward in the Zelda franchise that is very welcome.

 What’s Old Is New Again

The game plays like most top-down Zelda games most gamers have played before, sword-slashing and shielding and using items that you find in dungeons to forward yourself through to find the typical sages/instruments/masks/whatever big collectible that allows you to defeat Ganon. Heck, the fact that the game takes place in the same map from Link to the Past is enough to make me roll my eyes.


But that is where the similarities end, as there are major differences in how you go about executing these tropes. For one, almost all the equipment items you typically get in dungeons are available near the beginning of the game. The new character named Ravio rents you all the typical Zelda-esque items like a hookshot, boomerang, and bombs, as well as newcomers like the Tornado Rod or the Sand Rod. The downside is when you die, you lose all that you rented, and need to return to Ravio and rent them again. This is mitigated however, by when beating the third dungeon you are able to permanently purchase and own those items, which I was prepped well enough by then to buy nearly all of them. This is fantastic as this opens up nearly every area in Hyrule and Lorule to explore. Older games required that you come back after you beat whatever dungeon that has the item to get to that heartpiece just out of reach, but now with almost all the items unlocked, 90% of the map can be accessed and explored to your (pieces of) hearts consent.

Another big difference is the resource management. What used to be a matter of keeping track of hearts, rupees, arrows, bombs, and magic, the game has changed the item resources to be all connected to an Energy Gauge that refills itself over time. So instead of running out of bombs in a dungeon where you’re not sure what wall needs a good booming, you can just bomb willy-nilly until you run out of energy, which comes back after a few seconds. Some may find that this makes the game simplistic and easy, but I find it as welcome change to farming for arrows in pots and grass when what I really want to do is explore a level. All I have to do is pay attention to my health and rupee count, and that is all I really want to attend to.


The last giant change is the added gameplay feature of merging with walls and walking in them. When the antagonist Yuga traps Link into a wall as a painting, a bracelet that he received activates and allows him to become a painting at will and walk via walls. This is the main gimmick in Zelda: A Link Between Worlds that offers a real fresh perspective of Link’s adventures. By merging with walls, Link can slink through small cracks, attach to platforms, and even dodge attacks by becoming part of the wall. Nintendo did a really good job of integrating this feature into the puzzles and combat of the game, so much so that I had flashbacks to Portal and how well that game introduced new mechanics to a first-person game.

 Some of the Best Dungeons in Zelda

Dungeons function largely the same where you solve puzzles to gain deeper access till you finally meet a boss and earn a heart container. It’s not to say this is bad, whereas besides the first one, each dungeon is challenging and gratifying to complete; dungeons offer loads of fun in using items in special ways, and hearing the jingle when solving a puzzle is very gratifying. Not to mention, dungeons can be beat in nearly any order (one dungeon requires an item a sage has, so you need to rescue him first) so if you don’t have enough money for the hookshot yet, you can run to another dungeon and take care of that later. The only real problem with the dungeons is that the bosses are a bit on the weak side as they are very easy to beat, so much so that I wasn’t hit till the third boss. It takes away the fun of completing a dungeon a little bit, and I really wished they added a little extra to each boss so as to be able to appreciate beating a strong foe.


So Much to Explore!

The Overworld, besides being largely the same, has a ton of collectibles to earn that all add to the improvement of Link and his equipment. Making sure to rent and eventually purchase every gear Ravio has is really important for exploring for these collectibles. If you can’t purchase everything, there are caves with small challenges that offer 100-300 rupees for completing them; they really help in getting enough money to buy the gear, and they are distilled versions of dungeons which makes completing them a ton of fun. Of course there are Heart Pieces scattered throughout Hyrule, most of which require some thought to figuring out how to get them, and some of them are earned through the several mini-games that you find around Hyrule. There are also Maiamais which are this games version of Skulltulas, where gathering them earns you powered up versions of the gear you own. This makes a massive difference as you can upgrade the bow to fire 3 arrows at once, bombs to be larger, hookshots are faster and do damage, and then some. Finding all 100 Maiamais is actually very easy as the mini-map shows how many there are left to find in each area; it’s not very difficult to do, and often have puzzles attached to them that challenge you in how to save them.

Nintendo knew people loved Link to the Past, and that’s why they dressed Link Between Worlds up with all the frills that the classic game had. Reusing the classic opening riff from the old game, and then jumping into a remastered Link to the Past title screen theme, you can really tell that Nintendo has real reverence for their old title. Link Between Worlds will probably be criticized heavily for being lazy due to reusing so much design and audio, but personally I’ve played Link to the Past and the games do have a very visual connotation, but understand that underneath is a completely different animal. It’s like replacing the guts of a car with a different engine, tires, and shocks; it’s going to look like a Honda Accord, but it’s going to drive completely different than what you thought it would be. This is not the same game as 1992, this game needs to be experienced.

I love this game this much.

I love this game this much.

Final Thoughts

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a fantastic game. The 3D visuals are the best this system has to offer, the gameplay changes are some of the best fresh ideas I’ve seen in the franchise, the controls react perfectly, the story is in unobtrusive, the dungeons play through like a dream, and exploring the overworld is fantastic. The only two bad things with this game are the somewhat-weak bosses and you might get tired of hearing the same overworld music, but this is extremely nitpicky as the bosses do get harder later on, and the music is still really good. You absolutely cannot go wrong with this game, and I have no doubts that I will remember this title as being one of my favorites in the franchise with Majoras Mask, Link’s Awakening, Ocarina of time, Oracle of Ages, and Wind Waker. If you don’t see this in the list of top games in 2013, know that they are wrong.

Presentation: 9.5

Gameplay: 10

Replay: 10

Legacy Score: 9.8

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

This review is based on the retail copy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to keep up on his sandwiches.

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