Nintendo tried, by all means, to do more than just make me remember. In that respect, they did a good damn job! Honestly, it’s there that I ran into most of my frustrations with the game. It was my hope that A Link Between Worlds was my cherished A Link to the Past. However, regardless of how many Turtle Rocks I climbed or Fairly Fountains I threw thousands of rupees into like the good consumer I am, I couldn’t find that sweet spot I was looking for. 22 hours later, I realized that I was really looking to just play A Like to the Past gain. With that being said, A Link Between Worlds was a very good variant.
Between Worlds started off extremely familiar, especially if you remember the beginning to A Link to the Past. Waking up in the rain and all, this sense of nostalgia immediately drew me in! I was excited to see all the changes that had happened to Hyrule since Link last took his sword out of that fateful pedestal written in ancient Hylian. As I went through the introductory storyline, I couldn’t wait to start wandering and collect anything I could get my grimy, little Titan’s Mitt on.
So began my adventure into the familiar Hyrule I long loved. Every step of the way was filled with an exuberance and a tenacity to experience all I could within the game. The best part of the experience is by far the music. With a heavy focus on acoustic guitar remakes of old Link to the Past tunes, I wandered out of houses and forests wishing I had the soundtrack on my computer.
The same tunes that I loved were given new life with new instruments and rhythms, while brand new themes and amazing compositions awed my ear drums as I wandered through dungeons and new dimensions. Sound effects were brought over from the original and there was even a guitarist in the Milk Bar that played acoustic versions of themes from other Zelda games. I honestly could go on and on about how good the music is, but this game isn’t just about the music.
Unfortunately, A Link Between Worlds isn’t exactly perfect. The game is very open ended, and I loved how non-linear it was in that I could go to whichever dungeon I wanted at any time. I even thought I wouldn’t be able to enter certain locales without getting specific equipment, but that wasn’t the case. It was quite a throwback to be able to go wherever I wanted without real restrictions. Once I got the Titan’s Mitt item, I could pretty much go anywhere. This, however, posed two big problems and comes along with the modern Nintendo way of dealing with such problems.
If a player can go to any dungeon first, how do we make sure the game doesn’t punish you for doing that? Nintendo’s answer is by making everything pretty easy and giving you access to EVERY WEAPON in the game from the very start. I beat the game with 100% completion using only one fairy in a bottle and never dying. So if you’re looking for a challenge, Between Worlds may not totally satisfy. I began really excited since the first three dungeons in the “Light World” were decently difficult since I lost about half of my hearts going through them. By the time I was halfway through the “Dark World,” it was hard to purposefully lose more than five hearts.
I also felt that the collecting aspect of this game was lackluster. In Ocarina of Time, it was pretty damn hard to find all the Skulltulas available in the game. On top of that, you were rewarded with bigger wallets and handy upgrades. In some situations, you only had a single chance to get certain Skulltulas before that token was gone forever. Conversely in Between Worlds, collecting Maimais is a much simpler task. The task of finding them is entertaining enough but there were only four ways to find them. Once you figured it out, Nintendo never switched up the formula in the late game to up the ante. Add to this that the reward for finding them all is rather weak and, well, the thrill of finding the collectables is sort of gone.
The reward for finding the Maimais is upgrading your weapons to “Nice” versions of them. This does one of two things: makes the item more powerful or made the attack range larger as to hit more enemies at once. I didn’t realize that I could upgrade my weapons however until I was in the second to last dungeon, and I still found the game extremely easy without them. There really were no extra weapons or secrets in the dungeons that gave you more to explore with. In a Link to the Past there were extraneous items such as two Canes, the Shovel and all three Medallions. On top of that, you didn’t really have to upgrade your sword or magic meter. In Between Worlds, those types of upgrades were the items in the dungeons which took away some of the fun. There really weren’t any special items or extra items you could find that added extra puzzles or longevity to the game. You literally use the boomerang once the entire game.
I don’t mean to bash the game so heavily. The game had amazing character in both bringing back the world of a Link to the Past, as well as adding its own unique spin to the world. However, I felt Between Worlds lacked a certain creativity to the puzzles and dungeons that made the original so great. The ability to turn into a painting did add some cool puzzles to the overall experience but I don’t feel they took it as far as they could’ve. That’s probably why I didn’t feel like mentioning this added element until near the end of this review. It didn’t feel like a big part of the game at all. They took some old puzzles from the past games and spruced them up with the ability to flatten yourself out on a wall, but that’s about it.
Despite all its flaws it’s still definitely worth picking up. It’s a new take on an old game with amazing music you shouldn’t pass up, especially if you’re a Zelda fan. It’s certainly not a Link to the Past but it’s a really good, new adventure with a great new storyline. I loved the character that was built into this game and it separates it from the rest of the series. There’s no annoying companion telling you what to do and they put great spins on a familiar world. The gameplay is spot on and as a whole is just plain fun! Was it the best Zelda? No, but what I’ve come to realize is that while you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can still love the hell out of that dog.
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