SNES Review – Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

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I am going to be up-front with this. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is my favourite game ever made. I have been beating it annually for years and have gotten so good at it that I beat it in one sitting without dying in a couple of hours. It was the game that spurred my brother and I to buy a Super Nintendo in the early 90s, so tonight I thought it was as good as time as ever to review it for my website.

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The story is  straightforward but sets the stage for a great adventure. The game starts off with a stormy night and Zelda and the seven maidens of Hyrule have been captured by the evil Agahnim. Link goes to save them and it soon becomes apparent that Ganon is trying to free himself from the dark world. The journey takes Link through two worlds, tons of dungeons, finding the master sword, and culminates in an epic battle that brings the simple story to a satisfying conclusion. And while the story does its job well, it isnt really the reason why people love this game so much!

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In terms of gameplay, this is an action/adventure game. You take control of Link from a top down perspective and direct him across Hyrule as you defeat enemies, explore dungeons, discover items, and solve puzzles. The B button utilizes Links’ sword, and the Y button uses special items (i.e., boomerang), and the A button is the action button that allows Link to interact with the world like speaking, swimming, lifting things, and dashing. The game uses a similar progression system as Metroid in that as Link discovers new items, new areas become accessible on the world map, which continues until the end of the game! I love this aspect of the game as it really encourages exploration – and there is much exploration needed as secrets are abound throught! This system also makes the game hard to put down as there is always one new area or secret to find!

One of the key features that A Link to the Past brought to the series was the light and dark world dichotomies. Link starts out in the sunny and happy “light world” but about 1/3 of the way through, he gets transported to a similar but very different “dark world” where enemies are tougher and the world looks like a wasteland. This also brought about awesome puzzles that forced players to warp back and for between worlds to gain access to different parts of the world. Some of these puzzles were very clever on the first time through, and were extremely rewarding upon solving them!

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One of the mainstays of the series are the dungeons, and this game has them in spades! There are 11 main dungeons in total, and each follows a similar pattern in form, but differs quite substantially in content. For instance, when Link enters a new dungeon, he generally must explore and find some small keys to unlock doors and solve some puzzles. This culminates in him finding the BIG key, which allows him to open the BIG chest which nets him a new item. This item will allow him to fully explore the dungeon, and in so doing, find the BOSS door. Each dungeon has a unique boss that Link must destroy to find a piece of heart to further increase his life meter! While this might sound formularies (and it is), each dungeon is build around the unique item found within it, so each one has unique puzzles and bosses that force players to fully master the item before finally moving on to the next one. When I first played this game I found these puzzles really challenging (as I was only 6) but when I finally solved it, it made me feel like a true hero!

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One of my favorite aspects of the game are all the awesome items Link can find (mostly) in the dungeons! As seen below, the game is packed full of them and introduces many mainstay items to the series including the Hook Shot, Ocarina, and the Master Sword! What I like about the items is that each is fun to use and has an actual purpose – each item was designed with puzzles and uses built around it, making each one feel unique and important to the game.

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There is a boss for each of the dungeons, and each one is as fun and unique as the next to defeat. While I initially found them difficult when I was young, each has a strategy that can be used to destroy them. Specifically, many of the bosses are designed to be defeated with the items in their respective dungeons. The best battle of the whole game however is that with Ganon. He has multiple forms, and there are many strategies to be applied in order to beat him! I only wish there were more bosses like this sprinkled throughout the game.

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In terms of graphics, this game still looks beautiful for a 16-bit game. The colors are lush, the world looks alive, and the world is filled with tons of unique looking areas ranging from deserts, forests, castles, mountains, and everything in between! The transition from light to dark world is stark, and the enemies and bosses are wonderfully animated that still look great to this day, The music of this game is also top notch – and is actually what got me interested in video game music in the first place. These music tracks and sound effects are etched into my mind because of how memorable and timeless they are.

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In summary, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the best action/adventure game I have ever played. It has awesome gameplays, a killer soundtrack, and packed to the brim with Nintendo charm. If you have never played this game, you owe it to yourself to go out and play it. While it is an adventure game, it also has tons of replay value and is so good, I have been playing through it annually for the past 20 years! I give this game a perfect final score of 10/10!

Final Score: 10/10

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