A Link Between Worlds
A short but incredibly fun 2.5D entry into the series.
3rd January 2014
In keeping with tradition, I'm going to review the latest game in The Legend of Zelda series. My love for this series is already well documented, but when I reviewed Skyward Sword 2 years ago, it was a tale of disappointment.
Not this time.
A Link Between Worlds is the first original Zelda game on the Nintendo 3DS. A spiritual successor to the SNES A Link To The Past, it has the same main overworld and a similar dark/light world game mechanic. It has the nostalgia and je ne sais quoi magic of the older 2D Zelda games but with the brilliant storytelling and characterisation found in more recent games.
Graphically, it looks stunning: screenshots don't do it justice at this resolution, but with the 3D on it's probably one of the best looking games on the handheld, and it runs at a consistently high frame rate (which is more than can be said for something like Pokémon X and Y). The sounds are nostalgic, with much of the music recycled and/or remixed from ALTTP.
There's also a new weapon system which makes the game - in my opinion - a whole lot better. Traditionally, you traverse the dungeons, collecting new equipment in each one which allows you to solve puzzles in other dungeons or access new areas in the overworld. However, in ALBW, this is dumped in favour of a rabbit named Ravio who lives in your house rent-free and sells you stuff. Cheeky bastard, I know, but it means that all of the items are available from the start, and the game becomes much less linear and a lot more exploratory.
The storyline is great and although a little predictable is probably one of the best in the series: as per, some evil dude kidnaps Zelda and the seven sages of Hyrule in order to obtain the Triforce to revive Ganon, the king of Evil. All pretty standard so far. The evil dude (Yuga) hails from an exactly mirrored world to Hyrule called Lorule (HUR HUR HUR). He turns Link into a painting presumably drawn by an epileptic two-year old. Luckily, Ravio conveniently gave Link a bracelet that allows him to morph out of walls. Link manages to use this ability to slip in and out of Lorule.
Now here's where it gets interesting, so if you want to avoid spoilers, turn back: Lorule's princess Hilda says that there used to be a Triforce in place in Lorule that differed to the Triforce of Hyrule. It was destroyed, sending the kingdom into disarray and despair. After a few twists and turns it turns out that she's in on Yuga's plan to steal the Triforce - but only so she can revive Lorule. In what I found to be an unexpected twist, the saviour of the day is Ravio, who it turns out is Lorule's mirror image of Link. More stuff happens, Hyrule is saved, yadayadayada the end.
I also want to briefly discuss Nintendo's latest update for the 3DS which includes support for their social network 'Miiverse'. Miiverse was already rolled out onto the Wii U to relative success but playing ALBW is the first time I've really got my hands on it.
To be honest, it does what it sets out to do pretty well. It's a simple way to share screenshots and silly gaming drawings with the community and there's some pretty neat stuff on there. But one can't help but be a little disappointed by the lack of features. Now Nintendo are moving closer to a joint account system (at long last), it may improve in the future but it's slow work.
One thing to make the screenshot sharing infinitely better would be to include some kind of 'share' button on the hardware that takes a screenshot, pauses the game and prompts you for your note, and then does the actual processing in the background while you play on, because right now you have to sleep your game, connect to Miiverse, post your update, wait for it post and then exit Miiverse and return to your game. It's an unnecessarily complicated process that could be solved pretty easily.
I used Miiverse to get screenshots of the final stages of ALBW. I did get a slap on the wrist for accidentally forgetting to mark the fact that Ganon is in the game as a spoiler(!), but hey, who cares. I bloody enjoyed A Link Between Worlds and you should too.