The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a link to the past in a chance to revisit one of Nintendo's greatest games, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I have nothing but the fondest of memories growing up with this classic, and to this day, remains one of my all time favorites. I was a little puzzled with Nintendo's decision opting to create a sequel in the same world instead of just going with a full blown remake, but no matter, I knew I had to play it and hoped Nintendo wasn't just selling the name and nostalgia to many fans who grew up with this game as well.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds poetically blends new and old, and takes you on trip down memory lane with a ton of familiar pieces established by it's predecessor. It felt like I never left this version of Hyrule, with most of the map layout remaining pretty much the same. It's a beautiful game with some new animations, detailed environments, and a sharp look giving everything new perspective. The 3D was very lacking though. I felt Ocarina of Time had a better 3D effect as nothing really popped out, but it did give great depth to pitfalls and back drops. A lot of the original soundtrack has been redone and fully orchestrated making the game sound amazing, and the gameplay is still as smooth and quick as it was more than 2 decades ago.
The major change to the game is the ability to transform into a 2D portrait that let's you slide across gaps, and slither into hairline fissures found across the world leading into a dark, bazzaro Hyrule called, Lorule(...how clever). This new power generates some interesting puzzles, and level design that makes this edition of Zelda unique. But even with some an interesting concept, the game doesn't really challenge you all that much and is fairly easy. I think with the 2D ability there could have been better level design that promotes problem solving on a greater scale.
Another change to the gameplay is you can purchase all the weapons--yes, ALL of them-- from the start. I'm on the fence about this one as I really do like when you get your weapons in a dungeon. It's that sense of reward for going through a tough area and coming out with a helpful item, but on that note, it's something different and for the most part works. When Link starts his adventure a rude fellow with a rabbit hood begins to stay at your house. He owns all the weapons for a small fee you can rent them, but if you die you lose them all. For a larger fee you can own them making your fall in battle less harmful, and ultimately can be upgraded turning your weapons into powerful pieces of hardware. This tweak to gameplay really opens the game up as you are given the freedom to tackle any area you so desire.
As mentioned, Lorule, is a parallel universe to Hyrule that houses its own princess, Triforce and a kingdom in ruin. It is also home to the main antagonist, Yuga. He has a fetish for paintings, is seeking the power of the iconic 3 triangular shapes and looking to revive the evil Ganon. It's the same story told over and over but it remains interesting with a nice pace to it, but is very predictable and the end can be seen from a mile away. However, its still very enjoyable with some awesome scenes with the final battle being pretty amazing.
If you are looking to kill sometime between the main plot, there's a cool feature that lets you battle against other players' Link using the StreetPass function. Whenever your 3DS connects with another, you will appear in their world as they do in yours. A sign in Kakariko village will appear telling you where shadow Link is located, you can then battle with the CPU for some extra cash going to the winner. It would have been sweet if it were against a live opponent but still a cool feature non-the-less. In addition, other ways to earn money are are from some pretty fun mini games that include; Baseball, Cucco Dodging, Rupee rush, and that frustrating treasure guessing game. There are a few others but I have yet to play it.
A Link Between Worlds has the ability to stand on it's own feet even if its tied to one of the greats in the franchise. Many who played the classic will be right at home but does enough to bring something different to the table. The whole journey is one gigantic nostalgic bomb that brings you back to a time in your childhood. Familiar themes, places, enemies, and sound is great, and the new additions are welcomed too. Although I would have preferred a direct remake, A Link Between Worlds is a great addition to the Zelda franchise.