I’ll speak my own truth here; I’ve never liked the Legend of Zelda. It’s not that I think it’s a bad series, it’s just never grabbed me with the same fervor that it has others. I have a relatively short history with the Zelda series, beginning around the release of Wind Waker and I’ve only casually followed its development from there. Every time a new Zelda was released I would nod, look at it for a moment or two, and move on from there towards whatever other product grabbed my attention.
The first Zelda game that I truly attempted to play was Twilight Princess. I didn’t make it very far, probably due to my own ineptitude and stupidity… actually, I’ll concede and say that it was most definitely my ineptitude and stupidity. I never made it past the fishing bit.
That’s right, the fucking fishing bit. Which is less than an hour into the game. I struggled for hours mindlessly yanking at my Wiimote, scanning and waiting for any inconsequential blurb of water to rise to the surface. After a certain level of frustration was reached, I did the only sensible thing I could think of… I stopped playing. I tried again a few days after and still accomplished nothing. This process repeated over the course of two weeks until, out of sheer stupidity, frustration, and intolerance, I wrapped up my copy of Twilight Princess, grabbed my Wii, and sold it all back to GameStop.
No, I’m not pulling your leg. I’m not joking. This was my experience with a) owning Twilight Princess and b) owning a god damned Wii.
After that I built a mild intolerance for Zelda which gradually declined into the mere spectating of the series that I had mentioned earlier. That was also ten years ago, and up until now I’ve never even attempted to complete a Zelda game.
But then I bought Link Between Worlds.
I only know one word that can adequately surmise my experience with the game: fun.
A Link Between Worlds is some of the most fun I’ve had gaming in a long time, and that’s something magical. I found myself playing for hours on end, muttering “just one more dungeon”, and postponing sleep to find that blue tunic that halves your health, all the while cursing myself for not playing Zelda earlier! What had I neglected myself from? The fool!
The puzzles in A Link Between Worlds are absolutely spectacular, inhabiting the realms between challenging and genuinely rewarding. Sometimes I’d reach a particular puzzle and be stumped for a good long while, yet the way they are crafted encourages some player creativity. The Thieves’ Hideout was an engaging dungeon from the get-go, having Link use the switches and bombs to navigate the perilous Hideout was an intuitive way to progress. I enjoy the small aspects of the game, the parts that symbiotically work with the core gameplay to create this enriching experience.
The enemies themselves are elegantly designed, yet their purpose is what fascinates me. Each enemy seems to have been created and populated for a legitimate reason, something that all too many games are offensive of doing. The bombs are fun enemies to fight, but they have a legitimate purpose and are used as objects to solve puzzles. When a ghost is defeated, they open new pathways and treasures. Everything works together to create this beautifully interconnected experience, which is something that I don’t see often. I’ll be frank, I don’t even like the combat in A Link Between Worlds, but I can see its purpose. It’s never too challenging or complicated and it can actually become repetitive, but since it works with the flow of the puzzles so well, I can honestly see where the ends justify the means. Nothing feels forced into this game, everything has a purpose, and that purpose is to challenge the player, and in that challenge, create a fulfilling reward.
The music is good, so good in fact that I started listening to it while walking around campus or working from home. It’s elegant and simple and intoxicating all at the same time. Even playing from my 3DS, the game is gorgeous. The art style, enemy design, world design, just about every aspect of this game is flawless and evokes this whimsical, childlike mood.
I’m even feeling the slightest tinge of nostalgia, which is strange since I don’t fondly remember the Zelda series. I hadn’t liked any of the previous games, and A Link Between Worlds is the only Zelda game I’ve progressed through, yet I can’t help but look back on my experience with the older games and think “Damn, weren’t they great?” when in fact I atrociously hated them. I can’t explain the phenomena, the only possible theory that I’ve worked is that A Link Between Worlds is actually a hypnosis circle that is warping my perspective on the series. Maybe that’s what the 3D feature actually is!
Either way, I love this game to bits and pieces. It’s been a beautiful escapade through the land of Hyrule (and Lorule), and has fundamentally changed me and my perspective on the Zelda series and Gaming as a whole. If you haven’t played this game, please do yourself a favor and get on it.
As in now!
What are you waiting for?!?