The storyline is exactly what you’d expect; Princess Zelda is kidnapped and Link needs to go rescue her. Although this time six other maidens are also held captive to be used to open the portal to the Dark World. The game begins on a dark and rainy night. Your uncle heads out in the night and tells you to stay put, but that voice in your head tells you otherwise so you’re off after him. The first half of the game you travel through the vast kingdom of Hyrule collecting pendants so that you can wield the Master Sword. Later you’ll have the opportunity to travel to the Dark World as well. You’ll travel from dungeon to dungeon, solving puzzles and collecting an arsenal of weapons that will help you on your adventure. Even though this game is somewhat linear, you still have the opportunity to mess around doing side quests, or doing some dungeons out of order. Sometimes just running around mowing the lawn and collecting items can be fun. There is a mini-game where you have to use your bow and arrow to shoot moving targets and I remember spending hours just trying to time it right so I could win money, in this case, rupees.
Graphically, this looks exactly like the Super Nintendo version. I happen to really enjoy the top-down perspective set up, where several of the subsequent Legend of Zelda Game Boy games turned out to be. Even though the characters were not proportional, there is something endearing about these pudgy sprites. Enemies, especially the dungeon bosses, were creative and each provided a different battle experience. As large as Hyrule was, I played this game through so many times that I still remember where everything is. Each section of the map had a different theme to it, whether you’re exploring around town or marching through a swamp, there’s always something new to see. When you move on to the Dark World, everything is more or less the same in terms of location, except the landscape is twisted and sinister looking. Some puzzles require you to travel back and forth between worlds, especially since some places can’t be reached in the current world that you’re in.
The most challenging portions of the game can be where to go next or how to reach a certain location. This is particularly true when the dungeons become increasingly confusing. Although experimenting and exploring usually leads you to the right place eventually, there are only so many options. Link can receive shield and armor upgrades throughout the game as well as more hearts so it makes things a lot easier. You can also choose not to upgrade sword (after the Master Sword) or armor if you want to challenge yourself.
Koji Kondo, the highly regarded composer for The Legend of Zelda series as well as Super Mario Bros. is responsible for the music behind A Link to the Past. This is just one of his many achievements in the video game music industry. Some of the most memorable tunes come from this game and even to this day I can still remember the haunting but beautiful ending theme.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of those games that even after 15 years, it’s still as enjoyable as it was back then. You don’t have to be a Zelda fan or expert to play. In fact, it was the first Zelda game I really tried and it opened up a whole world for me to explore in various sequels and installments that came after it. As much as I enjoy a good story along with the games I play, the majority of this game is mostly running around and solving puzzles. There isn’t that much dialogue but the gameplay is so well put together that it didn’t need elaborate CG cut scenes to keep me interested. With a legendary score, fantastic design and gameplay, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a must-have.