Since the last posting I've also beaten the Swamp Palace and the Palace of Darkness. Did some exploring, some sidequesting, and (mostly) some snail hunting. 82 maiamai total. Now I have all of Ravio's items bought and eight of them upgraded to Nice (all but the boomerang).
I thought Turtle Rock had the toughest dungeon and boss of the five Lorule dungeons I've played, but that is probably in large part because it was the second one I did in Lorule. I still had green mail, the Lv.1 Master Sword, and only the Bow, Fire Rod, and Ice Rod upgraded to Nice (I specifically waited to enter until I upgraded the Ice Rod). I had a rough time in Turtle Rock, dying once (only time in the game where that happened), but resetting to the weathervane save rather than buy my rental items again. The Desert Palace was manageable and getting the Titan's Mitt accelerated my income in a major way (in both rupees and maiamai). I haven't had to use a guide at all to find nearly everything I've wanted to, with the lone exception of the Master Ore in the Palace of Darkness. I stared at that stupid map, already having finished the dungeon, for close to 30 minutes before I decided "**** this, I'mma check GameFAQs." Spinning wall triggered by the lower switch. Tricky.
My very first impression of the game was "this is not wasting any time at all." Less than 20 minutes in I met some core characters, been introduced to item renting, and thrown into a dungeon. Traveling the map is easier than ever thanks to weathervanes. Getting from dungeon to dungeon or encounter to encounter is easy, but has incredible design variety and changing tactics. Every dungeon has 1 or 2 signature items, without *obviously* revolving around the item and making each item VERY useable and powerful outside its own dungeon (thus dispelling one of my issues with the Zelda games' basic design). Rupee collection is rapid and satisfying, since there will basically always be something to spend them on; on a similar note, Maiamai collection rules because there are a TON of them, they never seem unreasonably hidden, and there is an awesome, palpable reward for each ten you find. Smart stuff, Nintendo.
I don't really have any serious issues with ALBW. It wears its gimmicks fantastically (wall paintings, moving between worlds, and renting items are all rock solid), the map is dense with things to discover and collect, and the action is superb. The item rental concept is ingenious, and soon you're gaining rupees at such an incredible rate that keeping those nine things in your inventory permanently is totally manageable. The dungeons are all great, but they feel a little small and short compared to the classics in A Link to the Past or the incredible scale and spectacle of the 3D Zelda games' dungeons. I love the dungeons I've done, but they seem a little too quick and too easy. Maybe I'm just too much of a veteran, but this seems like Zelda Lite at times. A fantastic, refreshing, delicious Zelda Lite, but still a little too breezy. That's my biggest (only?) complaint about the game, and it barely even counts.
And I wonder how much of it's nostalgia. Sure, the map and items are all great, but the map is almost a 100% landmark-for-landmark recreation of one of my favorite games ever. Probably more than 60% of the soundtrack is well-produced re-imaginings of old tracks. Almost every item and gameplay tidbit from ALttP is brought back and improved a little bit. OF COURSE I'll really like it. Even when it changes in tiny ways it's enough to blow my mind a little bit and get me excited - I got *way* too pumped from seeing that Turtle Rock and the Ice Ruins switched places. Similar thing to see a snow-covered Death Mountain. Is this just awesome, or a bit of a cheap ploy? Probably both, but I don't care. It's done with enough attention to detail and smart adjustments that I'm enjoying just about all of it.
So that's that. Two more Sages to rescue, and presumably a final dungeon. Will probably finish it this weekend. Dunno if I'll get all the snails, but I definitely want at least 90 so I can get all my items up to Nice. Next time I post here it will probably be a LOT of XenoBlade ramblings.
TL;DR A Link Between Worlds is pretty good. You should play it. Already not regretting buying this 3DS last weekend.