Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is everything you expect in a Zelda game, and then some. The game begins like many before it with Link being awakened from a deep and troubled sleep. This version of Link is a blacksmith’s apprentice and his first task is to deliver a sword to the captain of the Hyrule Castle guard. Link never gets to deliver that sword to the captain because of Yuga, the game’s main villain, who is going around Hyrule and turning people into paintings and the good captain is one of the first victims. Yuga soon takes Hyrule Castle and Princess Zelda as well, and it is at this point that the adventure truly begins. The story is pretty straightforward and simple, although there was a surprising little twist at the end which I enjoyed. Link is also lacking in personality, like earlier Zelda games he is a blank slate, which in my opinion kind of limits what you can do story wise. However, story is not really the most important aspect of the game; it’s the gameplay that will win you over. Central to the gameplay is Link’s new ability, which really changes things up.
Link eventually gets the ability to turn himself into a two dimensional image on any wall from a bracelet given to him by the merchant Rovio, this new ability truly makes this game stand out from the others before it as it adds many new layers to the experience. This ability lets you reach places you ordinarily would not be able to, solve puzzles and can come in handy during combat because Link is effectively invincible while using his new ability. While in this form link can only move side to side, not up or down, preventing it from being a way to cheat the game. Another new feature is Rovio’s item shop in which you can rent and later purchase every single item in the game, from the Bow to the Fire Rod. The items are cheap to rent, but if you die you lose your rented items. Also you no longer have to worry about finding rupees and not being able to hold them in a tiny wallet, you start the game with a 9,999 rupee limit. Link no longer has a companion to help him out; you are on your own in this game and it is a refreshing experience. It’s nice not to have a character like Nave or Fii telling you what you need to do to solve a particular puzzle in a dungeon.
The dungeons in this game are a blast, each offers a unique challenge. The Dark Palace for instance has several areas in which darkness reveals what light cannot. Turtle Rock offers its challenge in the form of using the ice rod to traverse the lava filled dungeon by turning the lava into stone. The puzzles are varied enough that you do not ever really get bored. You rely on Link’s ability to merge with walls in every dungeon, whether it is to find a secret treasure chest not visible on the map, or during the course of solving a puzzle. The bosses are also fun to fight, I never felt like the fight was unfair and I never died during a fight. The game does have a system in place if you get stuck; this system comes in the form of a hint ghost which you can see in dungeons or in the world. You can see him if you equip the hint glasses you get early in the adventure, you can then offer the ghost one play coin in exchange for a hint. It is nice that this system is there if you want it, and not constantly in your face.
The bracelet and Rovio’s shop truly open up exploration as you do not have to get to a certain dungeon and get a certain item to finally get that heart piece that has been taunting you from an unreachable position. The game world is sizable if you take into consideration both Hyrule and Lorule which is a darker mirror image of Hyrule. You gain access to Lorule after beating Hyrule’s three dungeons and confronting Yuga at Hyrule Castle with Master Sword in hand. Lorule has eight dungeons and they are more challenging than those in Hyrule. Lorule is also much more difficult to get around than Hyrule simply because of the monsters, some of which can kill you in three hits. There are many things to do in this game outside of dungeons. Several interesting mini games in both worlds will take up some of your time, my favorite is the Treacherous Tower where you fight through rooms full of monsters. Another activity that will take a considerable amount of time is looking for Lost Maimai’s, which are tiny creatures you can return to Mother Maimai who will upgrade your items.
The game looks like an updated version of its prequel, A Link to the Past. The game features a top down view, which really makes the 3D pop because of the elevation differences in the landscape. The graphics themselves are pretty simple with many primary colors. I think that the developers could have done a better job in this department. The sound on the other hand is great; you cannot be a fan of Zelda and not be a fan of its music.
This is an amazing game, but it has its flaws. The game play truly shines in this game; you are getting a unique experience here. On the other hand, the developers chose to play it safe with the graphics and the story, which could have been better. The adventure only clocks in at around 15 hours, but you can replay the game in Hero Mode, which makes the enemies even tougher. Still, if you have a 3DS you owe it to yourself to get this game; I know I was not able to put it down once I started playing it.