Ever since the original Legend of Zelda game, every Zelda title (excluding Zelda 2 and a funky little title for the CD-I, as I remember it) has been a fantastic success. A success in gameplay, a success in sales, a success in keeping me playing for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours…and hours.
A Link to the Past, though, has a very special place in my heart. This 16-bit wonder is a masterpiece, combining all the best elements of the GameBoy Zelda title, the original Zelda, and even (dare I say it?) Zelda 2. And it does them all better.
Thank goodness, there is some pretense of a plot this time around. There is indeed some form of a mythology, presented in the manual, and it leads up to the game quite nicely. I won't explain it here though, as it is simply hollow without their illustrations. Suffice it to say though, that it seems that Link dreams of the princess Zelda as of recent events, and finds himself rescuing her. What else is he there for, anyway? Strangely (and happily) he saves her as part of the first dungeon!
…but then he has to save a bunch of other princesses. *Sigh…*
The "plot" will continue on, but there's nothing you won't see coming ahead of time. The point is, it isn't being told exactly the same way as before, and occasionally twists a little just to thrill you.
"What is the Matrix?"
I've been saving that quote up for a really cool gameplay experience. Zelda should be proud.
Like in the Matrix, Zelda has certain rules. These include gravity, hands can pick things up, and bushes can be cut with swords. Without these rules, there would be chaos, and really boring gameplay. Half the fun of LTP is that you can interact with nearly everything in sight in a number of ways. If you shoot your arrows at a sign, you can bet they'll stick there. Completely useless, but fun! Wouldn't it be cool to catch a bee with a net, stick it in a jar, and then release it to kill your enemies later? WOULDN'T IT?!?! IT IS, DAMN YOU, IT IS!!!
Also like the Matrix, you have lots of weapons. These include swords, nets, boomerangs, arrows, etc. Some items, like your sword, or a special bracelet that lets you lift rocks and things, can be replaced by similar but stronger weapons. You will eventually gain items that let you swim, run, and even fly.
You will also gain a number of spells - like in the Matrix? - that allow you to attack your enemies in numerous useful ways. Most aren't too important, but fun to cast.
The dungeon designs are very good, interesting, and rely on your abilities for creative problem solving. Each item you gain will be needed at some point, and you will have to be VERY creative with how you use some of the more interesting ones.
It is also worth noting that there are actually two parallel worlds to explore - literally doubling the length of the game. While interaction between the dimensions is relatively rare, there are a few occasions where you must take advantage of your ability to zap into the "world of light" from any point in the "world of darkness." Many of these puzzles are absorbing and interesting, and they never seemed trite or contrived.
Overall, gameplay is the strongest element of all the Zelda games, and that remains true in LTP. You'll be hard pressed to find a game as fun, addictive, or involving.
I felt like pinching every single character in LTP. They're all cute, chubby, short, fuzzy, and not especially interesting. In fact, one might describe them as ugly. However, they serve their purpose, and do have a certain charm all their own.
My one true complaint about the graphics in Zelda, which are otherwise standard fare for a game of its type, the colors are often all too bland and pale. It seems to work, strangely enough, for Zelda's atmosphere, but a lot of other more pleasant things could have worked just as well, and probably better.
Then again, chances are that you laugh at me for even caring.
"Doo doo…doo dooby dooby doo!"
Most Zelda tunes, since the first Zelda game ever, seem able to be reduced to the quote above.
Once again though, this seems to work just fine for Zelda. There are a total of roughly eight tunes in a game you're going to be playing for a pretty decent amount of time, you'll only hear about three of them for a substantial amount of time, and they all seem to loop after about thirty seconds of play.
They'll stick in your head, they'll drive you out of your mind, and you'll hum them all day long for years after you've finished the game. But you'll never bring yourself to hate them, no matter HOW hard you try.
"A winner is you!"
If you like classic games, you'll love Zelda. If you hate classic games, you'll love Zelda. If you are an Eskimo without a Super Nintendo to play Zelda ON, you'll still love Zelda. And with the low price you can easily obtain it for at pretty much any used games store around the world, you can't possibly lose! Get a copy today, or Mario will laugh his fat little Italian butt off at you.