The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The next gen is here, and while the rest of the world is busy getting excited over yet another annual release of Assassin’s Creed or the latest Call of Duty, I decided that playing the role of a sword swinging elf-child, clad in green and on an adventure to save a princess would be a far more enjoyable experience this holiday season and a welcome break from the usual green and grey shooters.
A Link Between Worlds is the latest release in the iconic Legend of Zelda series, and a bold move from Nintendo; not only is it a sequel to one of the most highly-regarded and beloved video games of all time, it is also entirely aware of its predecessor and willingly embraces its heritage, providing a Hyrule overworld that is almost exactly how we remember it. The game plays more like a Link to the Past remake than a direct sequel, but Nintendo manages to make everything feel fresh by playing on your expectations, relocating secrets, changing up puzzles, and introducing an intriguing item rental system that is brand new addition to the franchise.
Link’s myriad of gadgets and contraptions are now accessible at any point in the game, and while this makes treasure chests far less interesting to discover, it does mean that dungeons can now be tackled in almost any order, a mechanic that is reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda’s non-linear progression. I was initially worried at this drastic change to one of my favourite Nintendo franchises, but I quickly found it only increased the sense of exploration and adventure, the two aspects that should surely be the defining characteristics of any Zelda adventure.
Nintendo also chose to cut out the unnecessary tutorials and excessive dialog that bogged down a number of the other entries in the franchise (notably Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword), resulting in a concise and streamlined experience that really feels at home on a handheld system and thrusts you into your first dungeon within 15 minutes of starting the game.
All in all, this game is the shot in the arm that this franchise needed. It feels fresh and exciting, throwing new ideas into the traditional Zelda formula but never straying far enough to lose sight of the series’ tradition or negate the charm that made these games so beloved in the first place. It will be interesting to see how much of this new Zelda makes its way into the inevitable HD Zelda for Wii U.