The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review

ZeldaLBW
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is utterly superb, and a very dangerous time sink to boot.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: On the plus side

Just before I popped The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds into my 3DS, my mind wandered back to its logical predecessor; 1991’s The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds doesn’t just borrow the usual Zelda tropes, you see; it’s explicitly and deliberately set in the exact same Hyrule as The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past.

I don’t remember wacky rappin’ Link, but The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past is easily my favourite Zelda game.
Although this is my favourite Zelda ad by far.

And this is… well, I guess rapping and Zelda really do go together.

However, I am once again digressing. I didn’t buy a SNES for A Link To The Past — like just about everyone in 1992 buying a SNES, it was purchased to play Street Fighter II — but I ended up spending far more time playing Zelda, having chanced upon it and knowing little of it at the time. It’s an absolute classic, and the only Zelda game that I’ve finished more than a dozen times.
Returning to the same IP is a trick Nintendo’s well used to, but it’s not without its dangers. As such, putting The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds to the test had me worried, because A Link To The Past is both an excellent game and strong part of my own personal gaming nostalgia.

I needn’t have worried.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is utterly superb, with the familiarity of Hyrule used not just for nostalgia’s sake, but to inform and expand the puzzles and challenges within. Nintendo’s swung its formula for Zelda games around with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, because once you’ve started the game proper — which is to say, in classic Zelda style, once the Princess has been kidnapped — you’re free to tackle the remaining dungeons in any order you like.

Link's parents never taught him that rule about not running while holding sharp objects. Actually, they don't seem to have taught him anything at all. At the start of the game, it's a bit of a miracle that he's wearing clothes.
Link’s parents never taught him that rule about not running while holding sharp objects. Actually, they don’t seem to have taught him anything at all. At the start of the game, it’s a bit of a miracle that he’s wearing clothes.

This is achieved by “renting” out the classic Zelda weapons — boomerangs, bows and hookshots, to name but a few — from travelling salesthing Ravio for 50 Rupees a go. You keep them as long as you stay alive, so death has a real sting unless you grind Rupees.
Ravio brings the harsh realities of capitalism to Hyrule.
Ravio brings the harsh realities of capitalism to Hyrule.

That’s pretty much what I did, because I’d rather pay the 800-1200 Rupees to own rather than rent.
Fiscal choices aside, the other twist with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a dimensional one. Link learns early on how to merge with walls, turning himself into a chalk painting to slip along ledges, squeeze between bars and access this game’s alternate world, dubbed Lorule.
At first the merging feels a little gimmicky, but once you appreciate what you can do, it quickly becomes second nature to explore every single surface in the game for hidden hearts, rupees, heart containers and other hidden surprises. That’s very true to the original series idea of encouraging nature exploration; I’ve already wasted many hours just seeing what could be done for the sheer joy of trying to do it.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: On the minus side

Are there downsides?
I’d like to say no, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Because of the rent-or-buy nature of Ravio’s shop, many of the chests in dungeons are now just rupee stores, which feels a little diminished compared to the classic “find this dungeon’s gadget” gameplay. It also means boss fights are a little more open, because it’s got to account for the idea that you might not have a specific gadget on you.
The 3D functionality is reasonably well used, but like so many 3DS titles, it’s not really needed. I guess that’s good news for anyone buying a Nintendo 2DS.

Link's pet hates: Octoroks, weapon rental schemes and anyone trying to tag him when he's in his painted form.
Link’s pet hates: Octoroks, weapon rental schemes and anyone trying to tag him when he’s in his painted form.

It’s also a big and highly addictive timesink.
This review should have been finished days ago, but I’ve just been having too much fun playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
Way too much fun. I could have got a lot of other productive work done in the meantime. I mean, it’s nearly 2014, and we still don’t have jetpacks. I could have built those — but instead I was busy chasing down heart fragments and missing Sages.
The naming here is not coincidental.
The naming here is not coincidental.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Pricing

Nintendo’s own first-party titles rarely see much in the way of competitive pricing. Locally, you’ll pay $59.95 or thereabouts for a copy.
Trust me, it’s worth it.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Fat Duck verdict

Do you really have to ask?
Look, if you have a 3DS/XL/2DS, buy The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
If you don’t, and you like videogames, start saving for a 3DS now. My only regret is not ordering the special edition so I could get that funky chest that makes the opening sound when you flick it open.

Although if I had, I’d be even further behind in my work than I am, because I’d also be sitting around opening it all day.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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