Approximate Release Date: April 13, 1992
Genre: Action RPG
What makes The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past so good?
That is a question I have a hard time answering as I’m too close to the game to have any kind of critical response to it. A Link to the Past is almost certainly my favorite game, so much so that I play through it multiple times a year. But it has transcended “fun” for me. When I’m feeling stressed out or need to relax, I’ll play through it in a few hours. It’s more of a security blanket than a game for me.
People deride The Legend of Zelda games for being too formulaic, for good reason. You play as the green-clothed Link and hack-and-slash through dungeons filled with monsters and puzzles. In the dungeon, you’ll receive an item that you will probably use on the dungeon’s boss. Then you move on to the next one. But people forget that A Link to the Past is the game that laid out what the series would be moving forward; after all, The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link are as different as two NES action RPGs could be. When A Link to the Past came out, no one knew what to expect.
The big twist in A Link to the Past is that there are two entire worlds for you to explore – the Light World and the Dark World – and you can move between them to solve puzzles and get items. I remember being shocked when the game revealed 10 or so hours in that the large, jam-packed world I had been exploring was less than half of the entire game.
But the thing that A Link to the Past gets perfect is that exploration. There is something hidden on almost every screen of the game. If you’re lost, you will stumble upon something that will help you even if it wasn’t what you’re looking for. Puzzles will require out-of-the-box thinking, sometimes requiring items to be used in ways you haven’t considered previously but will seem oh-so obvious in retrospect. This flexibility is an underrated aspect of what makes A Link to the Past so great; what other game would let you use a bug-catching net to defeat multiple bosses?
I could spend all day talking about A Link to the Past, but I’d rather show why I like the game so much.
If you like video games, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is essential. It’s that good.
Further reading: In college, I wrote a paper analyzing the gameplay of A Link to the Past. It’s available on my personal blog if you want a discussion about the mechanical aspects of the game.
Tomorrow: Experience some rad racing in Top Gear!