PAX Prime: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – First Impressions

There’s no shortage of discussion these days as to whether A Link Between Worlds is a good idea. Mind you, this discussion is from people who haven’t played the demo, but it’s a tough challenge to take on as a company—no matter how capable Nintendo may seem at making games—when you’re creating a follow-up to a title that revolutionized gaming and set a new precedent for the company.

The SNES title from the early ‘90s, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, has been hailed by fans as the “perfect game.” That gives a sequel—on 3DS—more than a lot to live up to. Previous Zelda titles haven’t been anywhere close to perfect—though they’ve been decent enough in their own right—so it seems inconceivable that Nintendo would be ready to take on this enormous challenge.

But here we are at PAX Prime 2013, standing before the two demo stations with a playable game demo, absorbing the excitement of the crowd around us. There’s trepidation, to be sure… but also a strong undercurrent of hope. With this game, Nintendo has made us a promise, and we’re all praying to whomever we pray to that they don’t let us down.

With hands on the game, the fears begin to subside. It’s immediately apparent that Nintendo has done what they can to keep the new game as close to A Link to the Past as possible, in terms of what worked for that early game and the way things look. Environment, enemies, and weapons are familiar. It’s a top-down Zelda game, set “six generations after Ganon’s fall in A Link to the Past.” And now? Link has to save Hyrule. Yes, it’s a little melodramatic, but what’s a good quest story without a ridiculous consequence if you fail?

The game plays very similarly to other top-down Zelda games, so if you’re coming to this with some experience, you’ll already know how to deal with your inventory, combat, and movement. You can access your inventory on the 3DS touchscreen, and you’ll be able drag and drop items to correspond to different buttons. Handy! The mini-map is down here too, which shows your location and the location of other various objects. There is, in this case, a vertical component to gameplay, which means that Link can traverse upward to ledges and such, with the mini-map handling this aspect well.

The special ability—or gimmick, as some have said, though these critics should really get down to a demo station and check this out on their own—is that Link can turn himself into a hieroglyph and flatten against a wall. This means he can walks across areas that would be otherwise inaccessible, and he can fit into crazy corner spaces. This becomes a key component in problem-solving for puzzles and finding secret areas.

The 3D is also excellent, not distracting or “off.” The game makes use of the 3D component in gameplay, so do play with this on if you can.

The game will be released in November, and from what was visible on this demo, it’ll be worth it. Don’t fear, A Link to the Past fans! A Link Between Worlds is poised to fill the hole in your heart that you didn’t even know you had.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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