One of the joys of revisiting the NES library in the 21st century is that it has actually grown quite a bite over the past 30 years! Many fans over the years have taken what they loved about the classics and created new games infused with interesting gameplay, improved graphics, and awesome music! Enter Zelda: The Legend of Link! This is the second Zelda hack that I have reviewed for my site, and it was an absolute joy playing through it!
In terms of story, it is simple like original Legend of Zelda. In this game, you follow Link throughout Hyrule, collecting pieces of the Triforce and helping Zelda destroy Gannon! There really isn’t much more to say than that. The game does however have a great intro with scrolling text (see below) recounting the legends a young boy clothed in green, and even include pictures from many past Zelda games like Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker! The intro really got my hyped to play this game!
The gameplay in Legend of Link is quintessential Zelda and does not stray far from the blueprint. You control Link from an overtop view and adventure around collecting items and destroying enemies. There are also eight (or nine) puzzle-focused dungeons Link must find his way through, each ending with an epic boss battle for each!
The game uses the original NES Zelda as the base for the hack (I think), but adds so much in terms of game mechanics that it is almost unrecognizable! For instance, in the original Zelda, Link could only poke his sword in 4 directions, making it difficult to hit enemies who were diagonally positioned. In the Legend of Link, not only can Link swing in an arc – making it easy to hit enemies in diagonal directions – he can even charge his sword for a spin attack like in A Link to the Past! The game also introduces helpful mechanics that make the game more streamline like being able to equip three items at once (using the select button to quickly scroll through them). This addition helped me stay focused more on the game and less in the menu system!
Many fan-favourite items made it into the story! You have the Hook-Shot, Bombs, Bow, Pegasus Boots – and even the Hover Boots from Ocarina of Time and Rock’s Feather from Link’s Awakening! Similar to Link’s Awakening, you could also combine certain items like Rock’s Feather and Pegasus Boots to do extra long jumps! The developer really spent a lot of time coding these items into the game!
There were a couple items that I was less impressed with though, and a couple that were not implemented as well as they could have been. For instance, the Candle is back but is used to continuously light up dungeons. If the button is not held, everything will stay dark – making it almost impossible to attack enemies and progress. I found this item really annoying! Later on you discover an upgraded Candle that lights up everything continuously, which I feel is how the original item should have been used! While the inclusion of Rock’s Feather was awesome, it feels very stiff and unforgiving compared to in Link’s Awakening. I died many times because I would either jump to early or too late – an issue which rarely happened in Link’s Awakening. After a long while, I did become use to the jumping mechanic and things improved, but I feel it was still poorly implanted. The game later introduces items like the Hover Boots that negate the importance of Rock’s Feather, so it becomes a non-issue later in the game.
The world itself is quite large! There is both a Light and Dark world – each one being twice the size of the original Zelda map! While these worlds are more similar compared to A Link to the Past’s two worlds, they still have a couple interesting puzzles need be solved by warping back and forth between them. As you explore the world, Link’s personal map also gets filled in – which was awesome as the original didn’t really have a map. The map also showed some important locations as well such as dungeons! While most of the map stuff was great, I didn’t like how I had to actually equip the map like an item to see and use it.
The dungeons themselves were probably the biggest disappointment for me – even though they still got the job done. Other Zelda hacks like Legend of Zelda: Outlands really built the dungeons around the items you found in them, so that puzzles needed to be solved with the items to move forward. The dungeons in this hack were much less puzzle-focused and more focused on jumping (which didn’t feel great) and combat (which wasn’t that great when I had to use a candle to see enemies)! There were still bombable walls and block pushing to reveal hidden staircases, but many of the dungeons felt too similar because they didn’t have as many puzzles built into them.
While many of the bosses were the same from the original NES Zelda (which was somewhat disappointing), there were a couple new mini-boss enemies that were really challenging! See below for some examples! The battles with Ganon were also really well-done and more challenging that in the original!
In terms of graphics, this game looks absolutely stunning for an NES game. The game utilizes many assets from Link’s Awaking but adds colour to them! I was blow away with how colourful many segments of the game were. There are tons of enemies too – all of which looks great! When large amounts of enemies are on-screen at once, there is noticeable lag, but I didn’t find that this effected my enjoyment that much. The music and sound-effects also relies heavily on past Zelda games, but the game also incorporated a couple songs and sounds from the Mario series! The sound overall did a great job making the game feel like a Zelda game!
In summary, this is a challenging Legend of Zelda hack that has exceptional graphics and music, tons of new items, and successfully incorporates many concepts from other Zelda games. A couple of implementations fall flat like the jumping mechanic, but overall this hack is still a blast to play and should not be missed! Overall, I give this game a final score of 8/10!
Final Score: 8/10