Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/6/2002 for GBA  

Back in the day there was a little system called the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Things were quite different back then, systems came packaged with games (yes, free games!), two controllers (what?!) and a whole lot of excitement. In the heyday of gaming, pretentious characteristics such as flashy visuals didn’t factor too much into whether or not a game would be successful. It was through word of mouth, passed on by gamers who had experienced the magic for themselves to the less fortunate who have yet to experience it. Of course enclaves of gamers would gather together to be regaled by those tales, sucking in each and every single word and making it their own. Oh yes, the good ol’ SNES, the hotbed for RPGs, Sports games and perhaps the pinnacle of all Zelda titles, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

There’s no need to waste your time with any more anecdotes, lets head right in to the review. Want to know what you’ll get from the recently released Link to the Past? You’ll get a pixel-for-pixel conversion of the 1993 classic that rivals the visual quality of the SNES original. If you ask me, the game actually looks better on the GBA because all of the visuals have been shrunk down to fit onto the relatively small screen. What you have is a game that looks so amazing, so beautiful that you’ll probably wonder how the designers managed to cram so much quality into such a confined space. Everything has been recreated beautifully as the artists used the original artwork from the SNES game to recreate this port. Some may say that the visuals look a bit dated in comparison to the GBA’s graphical prowess, I say to hell with those people, this is one excellent looking game.

In case the past 9 years haven’t been too kind on your memory, allow me to fill you in on the storyline. Of course you’re Link, the lovable little elf-looking boy who’s small in size, but big on adventure. The game begins on a dark and stormy night, you’re relaxing in bed when suddenly a voice beckons to you. Princess Zelda is being held in the castle’s dungeon and as Link, you’ll take it upon yourself to rescue her. As you enter the castle (through a conveniently hidden secret path of course) you’ll learn that evil is afoot and that an evil wizard has placed the entire land under a spell. It’s then your duty to accost the land of this dastardly evil and restore order and peace. It’s a journey that takes place across a wide variety of landscapes and environments and in the end, it’ll take a novice gamer upwards of 20 hours.

The major changes come in the form of the Four Swords, the multiplayer component of the cartridge. When it was debuted at a press conference before this year’s E3, the press was given a small sample of the dungeon romping action that would be included in this cartridge. The concept behind the game is simple, yet inventive, you and up to three friends can hook up and compete with each other. In order to succeed you’ll need to utilize teamwork but at the same time, you’ll be in competition. Many of the puzzles require teamwork to be successful. For instance, there may be a gap that can only be crossed via platform that moves when one player is activating the switch. As the other player reaches the other side he will need to activate the other switch so that his companion can cross and they can continue along the way. Sometimes you’ll come across a boulder that requires the strength of two people to move it. The puzzles are fun and tend to incorporate elements from past Zelda games.What’s also nice is that the designers had the foresight to include puzzles that can be accomplished by the current number of players who are participating. If you’re playing a two-player game you’ll only encounter puzzles made for two-players, same goes for four or three players. Of course the ultimate goal is to amass the most amount of rupees so that you can earn the highest medallion. If you purchase this title you simply have to try out the Four Swords, it’s an excellent addition that is worthy of its own stand-alone title. The fact that it has been included in this package makes this purchase all the more attractive.

I’ll admit that playing the game for an extended amount of time becomes a pain after awhile. I found myself growing quite uncomfortable staring at the small screen, hunched over as I constantly searched for the perfect lighting. After switching to my GBA with the internal afterburner, I found myself having a much easier time. This isn’t just some small adventure either, if you haven’t played the game before prepare to be engulfed.

I suppose that visually the game isn’t much to look at but that’s just it, the substance and content makes this game so appealing. Who cares if the game doesn’t fully utilize the power of the GBA? I’m not thinking about it when I’m having such a great time. Same goes for sound, while it doesn’t quite sound as good as the excellent SNES title, it’s of very comparable quality. The only thing that really troubled me was the included grunting noises that made an appearance in the Mario Advance titles as well. I was content with the sword-swishing noises, no need for such silliness.

Why should you purchase A Link to the Past for the GBA? The answer is simple, it’s one of the most well designed titles to ever be released. This isn’t just some simple recreation of a classic title either, it’s a magical creation that really proves once and for all that masterpieces do in fact have the ability to transcend time. This isn’t just some rushed port that was meant to cash in on the unsuspecting gamer, it’s a beautiful second chance for all of those who happened to miss out on the magic the first time around. While it’s not quite the same as sitting on your sofa with the SNES controller in your hand, this is still an amazing adventure. This is one of the best portable titles to have ever been released and is a true testament to the dedication and quality of the Nintendo’s most talented workers.




Having trouble with this handheld adventure? We recommend you pick up Prima Games' excellent strategy guide that will help you get through the game.
Nintendo has ported over one of the best Zelda games of all time with excellent results. Great visuals and true to the original gameplay provide for one of the most engaging and entertaining experiences available on the GBA. In short, buy this game now.

Rating: 9.6 Exquisite

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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