There are many who believe “A Link To The Past” to be the perfect game. Yet when “A Link Between World” was announced, the 3DS sequel to the SNES classic, a good portion of those who hold the original in such high regard immediately raised an eyebrow and not in a good way.
Can you blame them? Has anyone been able to successfully build upon or simply extend perfection? Even Nintendo’s track record is spotty; for every “Super Metroid” and “F-Zero X,” you’ve got “Super Mario Sunshine” and “Wave Race: Blue Storm.”
There is little question that the next Zelda will be a good one. Has there ever been a stinker in the series? No. Even ones that didn’t strike a cord, like the two previous DS installments (“Phantom Hourglass” and “Spirit Tracks”) are more than decent games.
And even though it’s too early to make the call on “A Link Between Worlds” as of yet, the two area demo that was on the PAX Prime 2013 show floor had a lot of promise. As a diehard fan of LTTP, I found myself quite giddy during my return to Hyrule’s overworld.
One proper way to do a follow-up is to have everything stay close to the source material, but change things ever so slightly, like background details. So you’re immediately tempted to explore, to see what’s different.
The new 3D graphics are also very, very nice. Everything moves along at 60 frames per second; both Link all the bad guys move along at a super smooth. Controls are equally tight as before, and largely the same, though there is one big change, in the form of a new purple meter.
Instead of looking for magic jars that must be acquired from fallen enemies, this new meter will automatically replenish. It basically acts as Link’s stamina, so the player can’t abuse the, limitless amount of power. As an old school player, I was initially conflicted, since I sometimes hate modern gaming conventions making their way to classic formulas.
But before long, I didn’t hate the change but actually welcomed it. Why? Because it allows easy access to the new big feature in the game, and that’s Link’s ability to turn into a flat, 2D drawing, in which he moves along the surface of walls. This move can be used to bypass enemies, though it’s most for getting by obstacles.
This is mostly on display in the other environmental demo, in which you had to get around by sticking to the walls, though you also had to do much in advance, like hitting switches, to lower doors. This element was, admittedly, somewhat perplexing; if Link’s a simply line drawing, shouldn’t he be able to get through door cracks?
Still, it’s a ton of fun to do, and that basically limitless amount of energy allows players to do it as much as they’d like, even when it’s not entirely necessary. Which I appreciated since it gave me the chance to check out the game engine’s awesome camera. Yes, the camera; the most fun I had was turning into the 2D and seeing the camera zoom in, giving me an ever fresher perspective on old stomping grounds.
Speaking as someone who had serious reservations on a Link To The Past 2, it would seem that Nintendo has it figured out after all.