Forums - Nintendo Discussion - A biased review: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

It took quite a while until the 3DS got its first original Zelda game and luckily it isn't one of the 3D sort. However, that alone isn't a reason to celebrate, because the top-down Zeldas on the DS have been about as much of a success as the Houston Texans' and the Atlanta Falcons' American football season in 2013. It's for the best to forget about them or pretend they never happened. A Link Between Worlds plays in the same Hyrule as the SNES classic A Link to the Past, so not only will the overworld feel familiar, but there's also no way the game can avoid direct comparisons with a milestone of the genre. It's not an easy feat to prevail against a game that has stood the test of time. Let me break things down into positives and negatives.

What I didn't like

Many people raved about the start of the game, how quick you get the sword and enter the first dungeon. That doesn't hold true though. What actually happens is that you meet several NPCs who like to talk and the thing that is labeled as a dungeon (not by the game, but by gamers) is nothing more than a short underground passage. My best guess is that those people are so used to the introductions of 3D Zelda games that ALBW feels short in comparison, but in reality it's quite a lengthy intro. It felt like more than 20 minutes had passed by the time I was done talking to Zelda and free to go on my adventure. Thankfully the start of the game is really the low point when it comes to pacing, because the dialogue is surprisingly short throughout the rest of the journey.

The trusty sidekick of previous games has been replaced by ghosts that are only visible by putting on some goggles. They are/should be located near spots that might give you trouble. If you pay them a 3DS coin (earned with the 3DS pedometer function), you'll receive a clue. Now some of you may wonder if that isn't actually a good thing. Well yes, it is.

Streetpass: Early in the game you meet an old guy who tells you everything about the streetpass function. You can set up your own Link with your current equipment who will then appear in other people's game as Shadow Link that can be challenged to a fight; obviously, the same applies vice versa, you get to fight theirs. There are 50 medals that can be earned by fulfilling certain conditions during those battles. The problem is that you can't, if you can't streetpass realistically. Spotpass (same thing, but online) isn't supported. Regardless, I had a couple of Shadow Links appearing in my game and they were definitely given to me by the game itself. However, I have no idea what triggers them and if they can be triggered ad infinitum, so that streetpass wouldn't be required at all. As it is, streetpass sucks and I am not getting a chance to earn more than a few medals. This blows.

Dungeons have a balance of about half puzzle, half combat. This isn't what I had hoped for, so a lot of rooms are either devoid of enemies or have very few of them. In combination with a lot of pots to replenish your health, it's an easy going. Especially because the content of pots respawns without exiting the dungeon and because the modern design of Zelda dungeons regularly sends you on circular routes, so running low on health rarely, if ever, happens. Additionally, Link swings his sword at a full 180° angle, so hitting enemies is easier than ever before. Almost every dungeon has also a room with a bunch of fairies. The fact that the unlockable Hero mode makes enemies deal quadruple damage shows that the developers were well aware that the standard difficulty isn't all that. This could have been easily rectified by adding more enemies, but I guess they just like their puzzles too much. That's not to say that the entire game is a breeze, because there are occasionally spikes in difficulty. But the thrill of rooms being packed with a lot of enemies or nasty combinations of enemies (plus statues shooting fire balls at you) isn't there. Hero mode sounds like "Holy hell!" material, but I only used three blue potions (refills entire health) for the whole game, and two of those I used during two separate runs of the Endurance Tower's 50-level-challenge.

The map item for dungeons doesn't exist anymore, instead you have the dungeon layout on the touchscreen right from the start. Yes, it's not that big of a deal, but it still takes away from earning things yourself.

Hyrule is too familiar. While what's inside houses, caves and temples has changed, and some of the overworld layout as well, it's still nowhere near as exciting as a completely new overworld would have been. Lorule picks up on the dual world concept, so its general layout is what you would expect after seeing Hyrule, but it's more different from Hyrule than ALttP's shadow world.

Allowing the player to freely choose the order of the dungeons in Lorule led to the design decision to make all of them about equal in difficulty, so provided you find upgrades, the game will become easier in the later stages. Many gamers have overstated the freedom that the classic Zelda games offered. In reality, if the enemies inside the dungeons kicking your ass wasn't a clear enough message yet, the dungeons also had numbers assigned to them (Level 1 to X). Yes, for the most part it was possible to play dungeons out of order in the original Zelda and ALttP's shadow world, but it wasn't something that players necessarily did. Speaking of the original Zelda, it still has the best Master quest/Hero mode. It seriously upped the ante which is a much better approach than the lazy "let's multiply the damage" one.

Red potions are idiotic. They replenish eight hearts which isn't worth it, even if you find the game challenging. A fairy refills five hearts and has the added benefit of reviving you upon death, plus it's free. Blue (full health), yellow (temporary invincibility) and purple (deals great damage to enemies) potions require ingredients, I suppose that was done so you don't go overboard with them.

I have to assume that the stereoscopic 3D works well in this game, because at times I had some trouble to figure what height I am looking at. Depth perception being thrown off is something that occurs in 3DS games that are deliberately programmed to look good in 3D. I don't use 3D, because I don't want to suffer (no good experiences in the past). Speaking of graphics, ALBW has some framerate issues, most commonly when morphing into a picture in more detailed scenery.

What I liked

The pacing of the game (aside from the slow start) is very good. Almost all the time you get to do what you want instead of being forced into a story. The game has significantly more warp points than ALttP, plus the bell (ocarina replacement) is handed to you early. A necessary decision due to the item renting system. Don't have the correct item with you when getting to a dungeon? Not a problem, activate the warp/save point near the dungeon, warp to the shop, get the item and warp back. Although renting is actually so cheap that by the time I got the option to rent, I could rent them all. The drawback of renting is that all items will be taken away from you in case you die, although money isn't an issue as there are plenty of sources. After a certain point in the game you can buy the items for quite a hefty price; not only does it allow you to keep them forever, but they also become eligible for upgrades which are tied to a major sidequest.

The upgrade system works. Whereas in Skyward it was a bust because you had to collect a lot of random things and the upgrades were basically worthless, things are different in ALBW. The aforementioned sidequest is a variation of the Skulltulla concept and for every ten you can upgrade an item of your choice. Not only is it fun to do the collecting, but many of the upgrades prove to be useful, particularly the fire and ice staves. The final reward for the sidequest isn't anything special, but at least it isn't a complete letdown like in Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.

There are quite a few minigames and they are all fun in their own ways. This adds to the package of a motivating main quest that is coupled with worthwhile sidequests. The game might only be around 15 hours long (if you bother to explore the entire world), but there is no filler. This is high quality entertainment. There's no part that drags on, there's no part that is annoying. The picture mechanic is seamlessly integrated, it doesn't slow the game down at all. Even the obligatory stealth section is now fun to play because of that. The game may lack in difficulty, but I gladly take a relatively easy game over a more challenging title that regularly throws bullshit at you. ALBW also has a good soundtrack, but most of it consists of remixes of ALttP music.

The button mapping makes sense with two buttons that can be assigned with items, one permanently assigned to the shield and another one for the pegasus boots. The overworld map allows you to use up to 20 markers, so you don't have to remember where an unreachable heart piece or the like was. You can also customize a quick select function for your items, so that you don't have to pause the game everytime you want to switch items. And the bell has its own button on the touchscreen, making quick travel comfortable.

Verdict:

Controls: Great.
Gameplay: Engaging.
Story: Okay.
Graphics: Good.
Sound: Memorable.
Value: Satisfactory.

Final Score: 8.6/10

A Link Between Worlds isn't quite the Zelda game that I wanted, but instead of whining what I didn't get, I am happy for what it isn't: Another DS Zelda game. My biggest complaints are the low difficulty and a recycled overworld, but at least the former shouldn't be an issue for many gamers. This is a Zelda game that cuts most of the nonsense that has infested the series and moves the formula back to what it originally was: A highly motivating action-adventure that allows you to experiment with the weapons at your disposal. It's not as great as A Link to the Past, but then again, how many games are? A Link Between Worlds has secured its spot as a must-own for the Nintendo 3DS.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

Biased reviews are a pleasure to read. Just my opinion, of course.

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"The upgrade system works. Whereas in Skyward it was a bust because you had to collect a lot of random things and the upgrades were basically worthless, things are different in ALBW. The aforementioned sidequest is a variation of the Skulltulla concept and for every ten you can upgrade an item of your choice. Not only is it fun to do the collecting, but many of the upgrades prove to be useful, particularly the fire and ice staves. The final reward for the sidequest isn't anything special, but at least it isn't a complete letdown like in Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword."

This is awesome. I hated how in Skyward Sword upgrades didn't matter at all. I'm glad they fixed that.

I haven't done any dungeons in Lorule, but I will give my impressions thus far.

I'm really glad there is no side-kick at all, I really hope they keep doing this in future Zelda games. The tutorial part is by far the best in modern Zelda games, sure you don't get the sword intermediately, but compare to Skyward Sword this is a blessing, and again I hope they keep doing this.

I honestly really enjoyed the 3 dungeons I have done thus far, all 3 were well done and simple fun to get through. All bosses so far (with the exception of the recycle boss from ALTTP on the Tower of Hera) have been amazing, don't really challenging, but then again, I can't remember the last time I had a hard time with a boss on a Zelda game.

The renting mechanic is great, at first I thought you could only rent 1 item at a time, but I realized you can just rent the whole shop, which is great because it avoids to go back to the house multiple times. Just being able to do as I please from almost the get go is a welcome addition that has been absent from a very long time.

The music has also been fantastic, the remixes of old Zelda games are really well done and the new music fits perfectly. My personal favorites so far are the minigame song and the battle theme during the second fight with Yuga in Hyrule Castle.

I agree with you that without using 3D, is sometimes hard to check your height. But I most say, for someone who doesn't give a crap about 3D, ALBW has really impressed me with the 3D effect, I still don't use it, but I will admit that it looks really nice.

As for the difficulty, I agree that hasn't been all that challenging, but just like I mentioned with the bosses, I rarely have a hard time with Zelda games, so this doesn't really bother me at all.

One "major" problem that I have with the game is that the story so far has been just "meh". Outside of Yuga fusing with Ganon, there's nothing of interest in terms of story, which is kinda sad, I hope it picks up later on. 

Edit: Also, extremely minor thing, but I love how the bartender in the Milk bar in Hyrule is Talon and in Lorule is Ingo. Small details like that really make the experience better for me.  



Nintendo and PC gamer

osed125 said:

One "major" problem that I have with the game is that the story so far has been just "meh". Outside of Yuga fusing with Ganon, there's nothing of interest in terms of story, which is kinda sad, I hope it picks up later on. 

You can play the dungeons in any order, so there's not really much room to get an earth-shattering story in there.

What was the story in ALttP's shadow world? A bit of throwaway dialogue everytime you saved a descendant of the seven sages and nobody gave a damn. The less story, the better. The Zelda team doesn't really have good writers anyway.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

Biased reviews are a pleasure to read. Just my opinion, of course.

RolStoppable said:
osed125 said:

One "major" problem that I have with the game is that the story so far has been just "meh". Outside of Yuga fusing with Ganon, there's nothing of interest in terms of story, which is kinda sad, I hope it picks up later on. 

You can play the dungeons in any order, so there's not really much room to get an earth-shattering story in there.

What was the story in ALttP's shadow world? A bit of throwaway dialogue everytime you saved a descendant of the seven sages and nobody gave a damn. The less story, the better. The Zelda team doesn't really have good writers anyway.

Yeah I understand why they did it, but I still don't like it. 

I just really like the Zelda universe, so the more story the better imo. Probably the reason why I like 3D Zelda games more than the 2D ones. 



Nintendo and PC gamer

osed125 said:

Yeah I understand why they did it, but I still don't like it. 

I just really like the Zelda universe, so the more story the better imo. Probably the reason why I like 3D Zelda games more than the 2D ones. 

But all that story created the mess that is now known as the timeline. Even worse, there is more than one timeline.

Personally, I think it's better to view the The Legend of Zelda series as "transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords eternally retold", meaning that all of it might very well be one and the same story, but preserved for future generations by different authors each time. So anyone who wrote the legend down put their own twist on it.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

Biased reviews are a pleasure to read. Just my opinion, of course.

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Sounds like a great game! Your reviews always sound more honest than those from professional reviewers. It also sounds like Zelda has taken a step in the right direction; back to the roots.

I'm on Twitter @DanneSandin!

Furthermore, I think VGChartz should add a "Like"-button.

RolStoppable said:
osed125 said:

Yeah I understand why they did it, but I still don't like it. 

I just really like the Zelda universe, so the more story the better imo. Probably the reason why I like 3D Zelda games more than the 2D ones. 

But all that story created the mess that is now known as the timeline. Even worse, there is more than one timeline.

Personally, I think it's better to view the The Legend of Zelda series as "transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords eternally retold", meaning that all of it might very well be one and the same story, but preserved for future generations by different authors each time. So anyone who wrote the legend down put their own twist on it.

Nintendo was kind enough to give us an official timeline  

While I really love the Zelda universe, I was never one of those people who came up with crazy theories to see what game came after the other to make a timeline and all that kind of stuff. I love the Zelda universe but mostly in each individual game. Before the official timeline I always look at Zelda games like their own universe and that (with some exceptions) one game in the franchise didn't had anything to do with the other. And I still do, because the Zelda timeline is so weird and confusing that instead of trying to learn what game came after the other, I just enjoy each Zelda world like their own individual thing.



Nintendo and PC gamer

RolStoppable said:
osed125 said:

Yeah I understand why they did it, but I still don't like it. 

I just really like the Zelda universe, so the more story the better imo. Probably the reason why I like 3D Zelda games more than the 2D ones. 

But all that story created the mess that is now known as the timeline. Even worse, there is more than one timeline.

Personally, I think it's better to view the The Legend of Zelda series as "transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords eternally retold", meaning that all of it might very well be one and the same story, but preserved for future generations by different authors each time. So anyone who wrote the legend down put their own twist on it.


That's pretty much how I used to view the series. It's the same story but told through different storytellers. Would've made things much easier for Nintendo but I guess they didn't want to piss of the crazy timeline conspirators.



RolStoppable said:
osed125 said:

One "major" problem that I have with the game is that the story so far has been just "meh". Outside of Yuga fusing with Ganon, there's nothing of interest in terms of story, which is kinda sad, I hope it picks up later on. 

You can play the dungeons in any order, so there's not really much room to get an earth-shattering story in there.

What was the story in ALttP's shadow world? A bit of throwaway dialogue everytime you saved a descendant of the seven sages and nobody gave a damn. The less story, the better. The Zelda team doesn't really have good writers anyway.

TP,SS and WW all had pretty good stories. I believe most zelda fans will want a good story in their console zelda game which is why, I believe, 2D zelda games are usually less popular, they generally don't really have a story.



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Good review. Would read more from you.