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Jonzor's Video Game Reviews (41)

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Batman: Arkham Knight 4.5/5
Magicka 4/5
Bravely Default 4/5
Awesomenauts 4/5
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon 4/5
Far Cry 3 4/5
Halo: Combat Evolved An... 4/5
Crysis Warhead 4.5/5
Crysis 4.5/5
Final Fantasy: The 4 He... 1.5/5
The Legend of Zelda: A ... 4.5/5
Borderlands 2 4/5
Final Fight 3/5
Command & Conquer 4: Ti... 1.5/5
Resident Evil: Revelati... 3.5/5
Bastion 4/5
Defense Grid: The Awake... 4.5/5
Borderlands 4/5
Mass Effect 3 4.5/5
Mass Effect 2 4.5/5
Mass Effect 4/5
Batman: Arkham Asylum 4.5/5
Ikaruga 4/5
The Legend of Zelda: Oc... 5/5
Mario Kart: Double Dash... 4.5/5

Next 16
 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds   Nintendo 3DS 

Yeah, I said it: Episode XII    4.5/5 stars

Man, do you remember A Link to the Past? That game was soooo good. It just managed to capture everything Zelda games need and none of the filler we all have grown to resent from many modern entries in the franchise.

And man, do you remember those other DS Zelda games? The ones with the PLAY-USING-JUST-THE-STYLUS-OR-TAKE-A-HIKE-DICKWEED control scheme? I mean... yeah, it "worked fine" but if anyone ever said to my face they thought it was actually better I think I would spit on them. Not on purpose, mind you. I think just like... as a reflex.

Well, if you find yourself even halfheartedly nodding along with those first two paragraphs then you may be the sort of person to play The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The game is up to its neck in elements from A Link to the Past, and the controls smack of not-shoehorning-in something and instead trying to make things just work really well.

What really worries me about this game is that Nintendo will fail to realize what makes this sequel great and what doesn't. So, in case any of Nintendo's senior producers are reading this, I'm going to make this as plain as I can:

This game is great because:
- there was a serious reduction in linearity
- there was a serious reduction in hand-holding
- there was a serious reduction in fluff

This game isn't great because:
- you could play the dungeons in any order
- you could rent equipment
- it was sort of a direct sequel

Okay, now let's get into the game and break these two lists down.

A Link Between Worlds is a top-down look on a fully 3D-modeled world. You'll control Link with the circle pad with the sword, two pieces of equipment, and various other actions are mapped to the buttons with the touch screen being used primarily for map and inventory. Anyone who has played A Link to the Past will notice instantly the world is laid out almost identically, from Lake Hylia to the castle, to the Sanctuary, to the Witch's hut or the desert or the graveyard or Kakariko Village... they aren't just back, they're right where you left them. Assuming you played A Link to the Past. If you didn't play it, then I suppose you didn't leave them anywhere.

Cutting to the chase, tragedy befalls and you need to save the kingdom. When the game really turns things over to you, you'll have temples marked on your map and some screwball rabbit will have moved into your house to set up a small business loaning insanely powerful weapons to people for no more money than you can find in the weeds behind your house. Now, if you die, he'll take EVERYTHING you've rented back. The items are the same ones you'd expect to collect from temples, so renting as many as you can afford allows you to hit up any temple you want at any time, with signs outside each dungeon indicating what equipment you NEED to take inside with you.

Assuming you care to, you can outright buy all of the items in the game, removing the risk of losing them. The game is good about keeping the rupees flowing, so this really never gets obnoxious, and eventually you'll be able to own all the equipment without much fuss.

The equipment is mostly old favorites like the hookshot and bombs, so there's not much new here. Most of the "new" comes in the form of Link's ability to merge himself into a wall and then travel along the wall like a living painting. Even at the end of the game, I would find myself having to make an effort to think along those lines when puzzle solving, which I guess means it was used well, but not over-used as a gameplay mechanic. This also gives you an altered look at the game, letting you appreciate the rendered graphics.

The gameplay is pretty standard for Zelda games, which almost feels like a breath of fresh air after the last few Zelda games have tried to change so much of the basics with stuff like motion or stylus controls. The dungeons themselves felt extremely short at the beginning, but by the end there was a nice learning curve that had developed from beginning to end in the level complexity. Bosses were largely straight-forward - possibly another nod to A Link to the Past - but never boring. This is especially true when you consider that so many bosses were nods to the SNES game, which featured many bosses that needed little more than a sword and/or arrows.

The graphics are quite good, but that's typical for Nintendo games on Nintendo systems. True to the art style of A Link to the Past, they are bright, colorful, and very easy on the eyes, even in 3D. I played almost the whole game with 3D turned on, and it looked quite good and never gave me issues. But I generally don't have issues with 3D effects. The developers really tried to make some use of the stereoscopic 3D, even in what is mostly 2D gameplay, and it wasn't a wasted effort.

Audio is what really separates people who played a Super Nintendo from those who didn't. It's almost a complete modernization of the original sounds and music from A Link to the Past. That game had great sounds and music, this game does as well, moving on.

Now, I mentioned above that this game being non-linear was a plus, but that doing the dungeons out of order wasn't actually a big part of why this game works. I say that because so many Zelda games recently have found artificial ways to restrict you between dungeons. The order wasn't creating linearity, the scripted story fluff was. A Link Between Worlds breaks this by letting you spend time between dungeons as YOU see fit instead of forcing you into some scripted set-piece adventure as soon as you finish up at a dungeon. A Link Between Worlds feels like it gives you elbow room to explore and learn, just like A Link to the Past - which you may remember, HAD a fairly linear dungeon and item collection order. You do this by creating meaningful things to do at your own pace between dungeons. And not just mini-games to play to earn rupees, heart pieces, or bottles.

I have a hard time coming up with real complaints about the game. I wish the top-down camera would pull back another 20-25%, because the screen feels a little cramped. Occasionally, when moving from the wall and just walking around the game normally you catch sight of a statue or something and you'll see how the fully-rendered object is slanted to capture that original "Link to the Past" look for the top-down camera, since this game isn't working with sprites. It's very rare, but really looks out of place when you see it.

And how many other worlds/dimensions/realms are they going to create in Zelda games? Sacred Realm, Twilight Realm, Lorule (the alternate dimension this time around, and no, despite looking identical to the Dark World in A Link to the Past Lorule is NOT the same place)... I'm starting to wonder if they can make a Zelda game withOUT a new alternate dimension.

That's it! That's the best I can do: my biggest complaint is something only Zelda purists even think about.

So in the end, what am I trying to say? This game is fantastic, but it's not because of any of the grand changes to the formula Nintendo made. It's because they finally stopped getting in their own way. No laborious tutorials, no avalanche of color-coded hints, and plenty of actual exploring between required dungeons. This game feels a LOT like its predecessor, despite all the changes. I fear, however, Nintendo will learn the wrong lesson, and the next console Zelda game will feature an insufferable bird sidekick or something, carefully guiding me through the process of renting equipment and then explaining two more times over how I can go to any temple I want (after it was originally presented by a different character), because they'll fail to realize what people ACTUALLY liked about The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. With so many changes in a game, it's easy to miss that what makes this game great is the same as EVERY Zelda game, Nintendo just stopped packing in a bunch of extra crap that drives everyone batty.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between World isn't great because of what it changes, it's great because of what it remembers... and Nintendo isn't going to realize that.

Yeah, I said it.

 

 


Recent Comments
Comment On Review

Jonzor

Jonzor- wrote on 01/11/14 at 08:15 PM CT

 

1. I understand the concern about the dungeons, but when I think about what really is the essence of a dungeon in Zelda, I realize how few multi-equipment puzzles there really were in a game like A Link to the Past. You're told before entering a dungeon to MAKE SURE YOU BRING _______, so puzzles based primarily around a single piece of inventory are still there, as are Zelda's Greatest Hits like torch-lighting and block pushing.

And some sequences just don't need to be repeated in puzzle-solving. Once you've solved one "use the fire rod to light all the torches across the gap" puzzle in the 3rd dungeon you don't really need to come back to that same puzzle in temple 7.

So like I said, I get where the worry comes from, but the more I think about it, the less I feel like we NEED a lot of puzzles like that. And there's always the FFFFFIINNNNAAAAAALLLLLL DUUUNNNGGEEEOOOOOOONNNNN to serve as the cumulative test of what you've learned.

2. Technically, the scenario you're describing is possible in A Link to the Past, as well. Once you get the bow and arrow in the Eastern Palace or the Hookshot in the Swamp Palace, there's nothing keeping you from just walking out and doing the next dungeon.

(I used to do this to the Ice Palace because I didn't care for a particular puzzle... I'd skip ahead to Misery MIre, get the Staff of Somaria, come back and do the Ice Palace, then go back and finish the temple in Misery Mire.)

So... why wouldn't this work? Because of scripted events that trigger only when you collect items from defeating bosses in each dungeon. You can't get into the final temple until the princess breaks the barrier... which doesn't happen unless you've saved everyone you were told to.

Nelson Schneider

Nelson Schneider- wrote on 01/10/14 at 03:56 PM CT

 

Nintendo really needs to port this thing to the WiiU. It's not like we have any other Zelda games to play on the damned thing!

I'm concerned that the equipment rental might dumb-down the dungeons, since the tools no longer come from them. Also, how does the ability to have any tool at any time avoid sequence breaking? Can't you just buy all the tools, then traipse into the final boss dungeon with 3 hearts?

 
 
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