The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - review

A direct sequel to the beloved SNES classic A Link to the Past, Link's latest outing mixes old and new to impressive effect.
 
  • He's like Flat Eric, except made by Nintendo
    Damien McFerran
    Last updated: 14 November 2013, 15:53 GMT

    Developer/publisher: Nintendo

    Price: £39.99, Players: 1

    Age rating: 7+, Release date: November 22

    Version tested: 3DS, Ability rating: Intermediate

    Those of you old enough to recall the 1991 SNES title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past will surely have fond memories of battling through Hyrule to claim the Master Sword and rescue Princess Zelda.

    Nintendo certainly hopes so, because much of A Link Between Worlds' appeal is built upon the all-important feeling of nostalgia.

    Although it's set after the events of Link to the Past and showcases a new cast of characters, the game world is practically identical. For newcomers this will mean little, but for series veterans it's like pushing your cold feet into a toasty-warm pair of slippers.

    Everything feels familiar, but there's still that all-important element of surprise.

    For starters, the dungeons – while alike in theme – are totally different when it comes to design. Link Between Worlds also changes the way in which you acquire vital items, such as the boomerang and bow.

    Instead of finding them within certain dungeons you rent them from a vendor, which means potentially you can gain most of the key tools right at the start of the game.

    It's a Zelda game like all the Zelda games you've seen before - but it's still great

    Like its direct forerunner, Link Between Worlds has a neat dual-world concept which radically changes the game map. Hyrule's twisted doppelganger – known as Lorule – effectively doubles the size of the game, and it's possible to switch between the two in order to solve fiendish puzzles.

    However, the title's biggest innovation has to be Link's ability to transform himself into a flat, 2D image.

    This drastically changes the way you tackle puzzles in the game: previously out-of-reach areas can be accessed by sticking to a wall and gliding over chasms or entering locked areas by slipping through iron bars.

    It's one of the most inventive elements we've seen in a Zelda game for years, and works so well you wonder why it took so long for it to appear.

    In static screenshots, Link Between Worlds perhaps doesn't look as alluring as it could, but in motion it's a masterpiece. Nintendo has locked down the gameplay at 60 frames a second – even with the 3D effect enabled – and this results in silky-smooth movement.

    The 3D effect is used to excellent effect in the dungeons, especially when Link uses bouncing pads to reach higher floors.

    While it's tempting to suggest that Nintendo is running out of ideas by creating a direct sequel rather than an all-new adventure, Link Between Worlds actually ends up being one of the most innovative and refreshing instalments in the franchise.

    In Summary

    The ability to turn Link into a painting opens up new gameplay possibilities, and Nintendo has made significant changes to the way in which vital items are collected.

    Factor in excellent presentation, fantastic music and a meaty challenge, and you've got one of the best 3DS titles yet seen – not to mention one of the most accomplished Zelda games in the entire history of the lineage.

    BT.com verdict: 5/5

    Damien McFerran
    Last updated: 14 November 2013, 15:53 GMT

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