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Review: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

August 28, 2012

Well, this is certainly late as hell. But, I actually do have a good excuse for it, that excuse being a new, two-month old puggle puppy. Also, training said puggle puppy to not go to the bathroom in the house. And having to take the puppy with me when I go to sleep so she doesn’t cry all night.

But enough about that, let’s talk about The Legend of Zelda. The seminal series was launched in 1986 by Takashi Tezuka and Shigeru Miyamoto, partially based on Miyamoto’s childhood exploring the hills, lakes, and caves around his home in Sonobe, Kyoto (it was the late 50’s/early 60’s – kids wandered around a lot more back then). The Legend of Zelda was insanely successful, making main character Link one of the icons of Nintendo. The sequel, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, also proved popular, advancing the overall storyline despite the change from overhead to 2D sidescrolling and a lives system.

And then we come to the subject of today’s review, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which was released to widespread critical acclaim and financial success in 1991. Set…okay, we can’t really pin down exactly where this or any game in the series falls on the timeline, but it takes place somewhere before the first two in the series. At the start of the game, Link and his uncle are both awakened by telepathic dreams from Princess Zelda, a descendant of the Seven Sages who sealed Ganon in the shadow world, telling them that she has been imprisoned in the castle dungeon by Agahnim, who is trying to release Ganon. Link’s uncle goes off to try to rescue Zelda, telling Link to stay in bed.

In true RPG fashion, Link completely ignores the advice of a concerned guardian, and heads out to the castle. And it’s a good thing he does, because in a secret passage to the castle, his uncle lies wounded, passing along his sword and shield and the spinning sword technique passed down through the family. And that’s where the real action of the game begins.

Now, technology has…changed in the past twenty years or so. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first laptop we had, way back in the mid-nineties, couldn’t even run any Legend of Zelda game. But the laptop I’m typing this on now can run, and smoothly at that, games like Just Cause 2 and Madden 2008. So the question that has to be addressed is, do these kinds of games matter these days?

Yes. Yes, yes, and a third yes. These aren’t just some old pieces of plastic; these games, despite how they look in comparison to modern games, are the foundation of the state of gaming as it is today. A Link to the Past is still a ton of fun. The sound and music are fantastic, the story is a classic, high fantasy twist on the damsel-in-distress and hero’s quest tales, and I feel it strikes the right balance in terms of difficulty, being challenging without being frustrating. I still have a blast whenever I play it.

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