In recent months the Nintendo 3DS’ line-up has propelled opinions of the console from afterthought to leading light of the hardware market. The casual and family audiences moved towards the system last holiday season and now the core demographic is being provided with plenty of reasons to reinforce the worth of their investment. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is undoubtedly designed to be another of these reasons, offering an experience that core gamers never asked for, but will unquestionably gobble up in droves.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past remains one of the most critically acclaimed videogame titles of all time, and so capitalising on this success is nothing less than good business sense. It’s more of a shock that it’s taken Nintendo so long to do it. The fear, of course, is that a poor successor may tarnish the memory, and so it’s very clear that Nintendo have been careful to create a true successor and not just a remix or cash-in: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a SNES videogame created on modern hardware. And it simply couldn’t get any better than that.
The sample of the videogame which was available for Electronic Theatre was only brief, but was directly indicative of where Nintendo intend to take players with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The Hyrule Field was recreated as an immaculate rendition of the classic layout we all know and love, with the open area ranging from Link’s house to the desert in the west. This was the journey to be undertaken, as a dungeon is located in the same position as in the original The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. En route players familiar with the original will witness many positive reflections – enemy placement, walls ready to be bombed and more – while newcomers will learn the basic principles of everything they need to complete this dungeon.
The B button is reserved exclusively for the sword (including the familiar projectile and spin attacks) with L used to raise your shield. The player can customise the weapons placed on the Y and X buttons, but for the purposes of this build they represented the hammer and bow respectively. These latter two weapons consume your magic meter upon use, as does the new merge spell, but the meter now recharges automatically.
The merge spell is of course one of the biggest new additions to The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, allowing Link to take on the appearance of a cave painting and slide along walls. This allows the player to pass otherwise impassable ledges, with an early example being to navigate a corner and collect a heart piece before entering the dungeon. Which is a clever design, to say the least, as the dungeon revolves around careful use of the merge spell and the hammer.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a gorgeous looking topdown adventure, with silky smooth animation that is almost guaranteed to please fans of the SNES original. The dungeon featured in this build is one of the best arguments for designing specifically for stereoscopic 3D that the videogames industry has yet seen, with the player only welcomed into a small area and having to climb higher and higher in order to progress. The transitions between levels are fantastic, but being able to see the action on the floors beneath as you concentrate on what lay ahead creates what is arguably one of the most believable interpretations of a fantasy world in any interactive software.
The Legend of Zelda is an undeniably important franchise for Nintendo, but it is also one that is synonymous with quality. The team behind The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has to be incredibly careful that they don’t wound the fans with this sequel while at the same time not throwing any artificial barriers in the way of newcomers. That’s going to be an incredibly difficult task to accomplish, but in following the template of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past they couldn’t have a better guide.