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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Year: 1992
Company: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure

With the exception of Super Mario World, Nintendo did a respectable job bringing its classics from the NES to the Super NES. They managed to utilize the capabilities of the SNES while keeping all the wonder and excitement of the original NES games. In some cases, they even improved on the series (Super Metroid leaps into mind). A Link to the Past is also an example of a series that was great coming in and excellent coming out.

As always, much of the improvement was in the game's presentation. The graphics are still very impressive, despite the age of the game. The scenery, enemies, and even Link himself are crisp, clean and colorful. And the bosses are animated extremely well, which is even more impressive considering that many of them take up much of the screen. The dungeon layouts are no longer claustrophobic, and a number of rooms are larger than the screen, which makes for even more maneuverability. Even more impressive, however, is the game's audial achievements. The original theme is back in this game (a feature SMW sorely lacked) and arranged even better than before. The ending music almost brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it, it's that good!

The only thing about this game that's truly average is the Play Control. Sure, it's responsive and all, but that's about it. There are no moving platforms to jump on to, or any other acrobatic tasks of that nature, so hit detection is not an issue. In some cases, however, the control can be a bit cumbersome. This is especially true when you're trying to change which item you want to use and you accidentally select the bottles. That can be a pain. Other than that, Link responds very well, so there isn't much of a problem.

Although the Technical aspects are pretty good, it's the less tangible parts of this game that really make it shine. For one thing, the story guides, but rarely limits. It's a lot of hack-and-slash, but it all has a purpose. Also, the order of dungeouns in the Dark World can occasionally be switched around; I often choose to play the fourth dungeon before the third so I can get a better sword. Even better, saving maidens in the Dark World win you snippets of the story about Ganon, the guy who started this whole thing in the first place. We no longer see him as just a bad guy, but rather a bad guy with a bio. : )

As far as difficulty is concerned, I think Nintendo finally managed to hit the nail right on the head. The learning curve in this game is the best of all the Zelda games, mostly because the game is pretty long. Granted, there is no second quest, but a game with this much stuff to do doesn't need one as Zelda II did. Not only that, there is also the challenge of beating the game while depriving yourself of various extraneous items, like the highest-level sword, or the boomerang, even your precious heart containers. Also, it's a challenge to beat this game in as few sittings as possible. Reaching the Triple Zero Club (beating the game without dying or turning the game off) is a true test of patience... and your social life.

Link to the Past also manages to make the connections required to keep the series going. There are enough elements to tie this game with the other two, released on the NES. In the end, the entire quest is extremely fun. The frustration factor is kept to a minimum, and since you're always doing something, it never gets boring, either. The ending makes all the time you put into the game worthwhile, too. Longevity isn't quite as good, mostly because of the pressure LTP puts on you to finish as quickly as possible, but apart from that this game can last just as long as its prequels.

This is a must-have game for anyone who owns an SNES. The folks at Nintendo did everything right in making this game - improving on the graphics and sound, but not touching the challenge and enjoyment that made the series so popular.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 16
Aesthetic Score: 22
Overall Score: 91%

You are now listening to the Light World music to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past..