Join us as we review all the SNES Classic Mini Edition games in chronological order!
It’s been more than 25 years since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came to the Super Nintendo. It’s two decades and some changes. Five generations of consoles. A quarter of a century, and I have yet to play another game with an opening scene that is half as intense.
Every time I start a new Link to the Past game, I never rush in its first moments. Zelda’s ominous and telepathic message to Link blends beautifully with the storm rumbling outside the cabin she shares with her uncle. Link’s uncle, equally sensitive to Zelda’s mental pleas, launches into the monsoon with a final warning to his nephew: don’t leave the house.
Fortunately, the old man cannot tell you what to do. He’s not your REAL dad.
Link falls out of bed, grabs the flashlight that is stored next to the table and enters the belly of the storm. And that’s the opening minute of the best Legend of Zelda game of all time.
It’s never easy to rank Zelda titles, mind you. There are always some bites and scratches in the top three spots, which are generally reserved for A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask (I’m curious to see where Breath of the Wild falls in the next decade).
However, Link to the Past is indisputably an almost perfect sample of the evolution of the game. The first Zelda game for the NES forms the core of its DNA, which is a great start. It then adds layers to its story, gameplay, graphics, and sound until it blooms into one of the best action-adventure games of all time.
Although later Zelda games offer cooler elements, better combat, more complicated dungeons, and more imaginative enemies, I have yet to play another title in the series that is as dynamic as A Link to the Past. There’s no trace of the slow start that 3D Zelda games became famous for (thankfully, a Breath of the Wild flaw rectified). The aforementioned storm at the beginning of the adventure propels you towards Princess Zelda, whom you rescue in the first hour of your adventure. The heaviness of Link’s first task is a notable change from The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II, which have Link save the princess as the ultimate goal.
Link is then instructed to explore the world of Hyrule and various dungeons to search for the McGuffins who release the Master Sword from its pedestal. With the Master Sword in hand, Link slays the evil wizard that is ravaging the peaceful land of Hyrule.
But that’s just the beginning.
Although A Link to the Past never really makes a Dark World secret, entering the twisted realm of the Hyrule twins for the first time is a bit of a shock. They offer you a taste of the earth’s gloomy magic quite early in the game, when Link stumbles upon a portal on Death Mountain and turns into a bunny who can’t wield a weapon. While exploring the face of the Dark World’s Death Mountain like a shy rabbit is overwhelming on its own (especially since you even glimpse your ultimate goal, the Tower of Ganon, menacing at its peak), it’s nothing compared to stepping into the Dark World forever. and find out what you have eight more dungeons to work. The three you take out on Hyrule’s light side to earn the pendants and the right to wield the Master Sword are just one small step toward lasting peace, like going to the hardware store to secure the key you need to fix a jet of water. tube.
Nintendo clearly knows that he created something special with the “Light World Prep / Dark World Fight” formula from A Link to the Past, because he used the same model for Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. Interestingly, while I appreciate Nintendo’s goal with its successive uses of mechanics, nothing beats entering the Dark World, checking my map, and seeing the blinking markers indicating the size of the job in front of me. Even better is knowing that the Dark World is full of secrets. There are caves and caves everywhere that hide rupees, pieces of heart, and even stories of unfortunate innocents and scoundrels who were dragged into the Dark World and transformed by its magic.
Plus, the dungeons in A Link to the Past are the perfect size. They are neither too short nor too long. Each one is based on a unique trick. Sometimes you explore tall towers that require you to leap of faith to lower levels (quite a mind-blowing experience if you ascend to A Link to the Past through the first two NES games), sometimes you flood the corridors to get through gaps, already sometimes you slide down a network of pipes. Many of the items you find in the mazes of A Link to the Past have earned a permanent place in Link’s arsenal and, by extension, pop culture: the hook shot, mirror shield, and fire rod form part of Zelda. series like swords and fairies.
The release of A Link to the Past marks such a monumental moment in the history of the beloved series that it feels petty to spot the game’s flaws. However, there are a couple. While the game’s backgrounds still look fantastic (the 3D faux effect used in castles and dungeons literally adds a noticeable new dimension to the flat environments from the first Zelda game), the enemy characters and sprites look somewhat understated. The bosses are also boring outside of the gigantic Helmasaur King and Vitreous, that nasty and gross bunch of eyeballs that rules Misery Mire’s dungeon.
It would also be nice if each dungeon in A Link to the Past had its own theme. The game’s soundtrack is amazing on its own, of course, The Silly Pink Rabbit is one of my favorite game pieces of music, but I’d like something other than Dungeon of Shadows to accompany me as I walk in circles looking for that last key.
If you want to shoot the hook in the back of my head for even bothering to complain about A Link to the Past’s miniscule issues, I don’t blame you. It’s a brilliant adventure that forever changed the Zelda series and action adventure games in general. Its inclusion alone justifies the selling price of the SNES Classic Edition.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is excellent. If you haven’t played it yet, beg your ancestors’ favorite deity to forgive you and then get down to business. What’s that? Have you already finished A Link to the Past 30 times? That’s great. Do it 31 times.