Posted on December 19 2014 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
A Link to the Past marked a milestone for the franchise in terms of pure achievement – it fulfilled the original dream of what a Zelda game was supposed to be, as was envisioned by Shigeru Miyamoto, even though he couldn’t fully realize his vision on the NES hardware. This game obviously has a special place in Zelda history, but what about it’s greatness compared to the series itself?
As always, remember my goal here isn’t to convince you or state that this title is the best in the series, but merely why folks enjoy it so much and may place at the top of their personal favorites list. I will attempt to look at more factual evidence rather than subjective. Though it’s understandable that any positive could be seen as a negative for someone else, but so is the subjective nature of folks having different tastes. As it stands, here is what I found to be the main reason some fans revere this game above all others in the series.
The Perfect Blend of All That is Zelda
We’ll set aside what the game meant at the time it came out (it became the blueprint for every Zelda game since) and focus on what it does better than every other game in the series:perfectly blend all elements. Do you enjoy open exploration in a vast world? This game has it. Do you enjoy fast paced combat with threats around every corner? Check. How about sprawling dungeons with hidden secrets, varied puzzles, and boss encounters? Bingo. Enjoy good story telling? Check. How about interesting and memorable side quests? Yup, the game has that too. No matter what you enjoy in the Zelda series, A Link to the Past has it and does it well.
A Link to the Past doesn’t truly excel as the best in any one of these specific areas, but it treats all of them as an equal part of the experience, meaning none of them feel lacking in the least bit. This is on top of the fact it has a 2D appeal, something that matters when folks debate between preferences for 2D or 3D Zelda games. It does everything well while not excelling at any one area of the experience, creating the most balanced Zelda game to date.
Two Worlds Feels Authentic
A Link to the Past was the first Zelda game to feature the two world aspect having a dark version of Hyrule, but the way it is executed is completely unexpected. In fact, the plot twist causing it can really catch you off-guard. In other Zelda experiences you can see it coming from a mile away. A Link Between Worlds tells you before you play there are multiple worlds. Twilight Princess evidently gives away the second world concept early in the experience.
A Link to the Past hides it from you until just the right moment, using it in a slew of story telling at the end of a thrilling battle. Today, some may feel this is an excuse to extend the experience, but when you play the game for yourself you never feel that way. It feels natural and it make sense. That’s the best part about it: It logically can be accepted as to how it occurs. This, above all else, makes the 2nd world feel authentic.
I wont go as far as to say the music is the best the series has to offer overall, but it has a handful of unforgettable tunes you will find yourself humming not too long after experiencing them, with non greater than the Dark World theme. Up until this point we have only talked about music in terms of setting up a theme for the whole series, but this game uses music thematically for every area and battle. It can even be used to clue you in to something without giving the secret away. Beyond the individual greatness of the music on its own, it enhances the gameplay experience, really bringing you into the world of Hyrule. Whether or not it does this better than other games is up to you, but it’s hard to deny that when this is combined with the other aspects in the game, you start to get a sense of its greatness while playing.
This game does tend to top many gamers’ lists, especially if they narrow it down to just the 2D experiences, so it doesn’t need defending in terms of how good the game actually is. However, that doesn’t mean this game is for all. You have those that prefer 3D experiences, and others may not enjoy the combat.
Still, it may be the best Zelda game ever for someone out there and I hope I did a good job highlighting some general reasoning as to why this is the case. Are there other reasons not touched upon here that make this game great for you? Game’s previously examined: