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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Review By:  Tikerman

Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1-4 (Four Swords)
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Everyone
Accessories:  GBA Link Cable
Date Posted:  4-1-03

A lot of people have been angry lately, considering Nintendo's string of remade Mario games. They have been yearning for something new to play on Nintendo's portable. However, no one really seemed angry that Nintendo re-released The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in December. As you will read, Link to the Past is a timeless classic, and no one minds that Nintendo has repackaged this game for the Game Boy Advance. To add to this, Nintendo has also done something with Zelda they've never done before: multiplayer. That's right, the classic Link to the Past, and an innovative new Four Swords mini-game all on the same cart!

If you already own Link to the Past for Super NES, or at least know about it, you can skip down to the Four Swords section. Little has changed from the SNES to the GBA version. The only thing you'll likely notice is that Link's "Hya!" and other various yells and screams have been added in. The graphics are right on with this game's SNES predecessor, smooth and well rounded. The looks of Link to the Past are about average for what the GBA can offer. The soundtrack is the same as the Super NES version as well, something few will mind, as Link to the Past's soundtrack is fantastic. Possibly the best musical score of the year for the GBA, Link to the Past features classic tunes and new (new on the SNES that is), funky tunes in the Light and Dark World.

But if you haven't played Link to the Past on any system, then you're definitely missing out. This game offers Zelda action at its best; tons of enemies, and tons of weapons to take them on with. It is your job to save the seven maidens from the evil Aganhim, and you are well equipped to do the job. Weapons such as the bow and arrow, sword, boomerang, bomb, and various magic-based weapons make your job quite fun. The "A" button handles your side weapons, whichever you may choose. The B handles your sword. The R button originally is just for picking things up, but once you acquire the Pegasus Boots, hold R to charge at your enemy.

Like any good Zelda game, Link to the Past is also big on puzzles. Every dungeon requires you to use your noggin in trying to advance to the final boss. The can require every weapon and item you have in your store, and some thinking "outside of the box". The puzzles are tough, but not overwhelming. Most gamers should be able to advance fairly quickly, and I expect nearly all will get them eventually. The action portions of the game aren't incredibly difficult either. Most bosses require mastering a pattern of some sort, and utilizing a particular weapon in conjunction with your standard sword. In the dungeons you never really have more enemies than you can handle, although it may seem so. Using your feet, swinging the sword, and performing the Pegasus Charge are all ways one can free Link from a barrage of enemies.

The game is also fairly long. It won't exactly have you at your Game Boy for months, but the casual gamer who plays fairly frequently should finish this game in a few weeks. The hardcore gamer (especially one who has played this on the Super Nintendo), shouldn't take very long with this one at all, and the less inclined to gaming superiority might take a month or so. One can finish this game with having every item and every heart container and the like, so add on a little more time if you want to go for the gold.

Once you finished the game, however, there's not much incentive to go back and give it another shot. Other than finishing the game quicker than you had before, replay lags. This is very important since a lot of people have played this game before on the SNES, and many still own that copy. As such, for these kinds of people, there isn't very much reason to buy this game, except...

...For The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. The first thing to know about this game, added in to the Link to the Past cartridge, is that it isn't just a little multi-player add-on like the original Mario Bros., that was added to Super Mario Advance cartridges. Four Swords is a full multi-player adventure. It is perfect in length; long enough to leave you fulfilled but short enough that you don't need to invite a friend over for a week to beat it. It's divided into 4 different temples; three of which you can choose from, then a final temple to take on the main bad guy, Vaati.

Graphics and music are the main downfalls. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty good. The Wind Waker-esque Link is well done, and most environments are rendered well. However, the overall scenes look fairly squared off. Whereas in Link to the Past, where the land meets the water, things look rounded, everything is roughly squared off in Four Swords. The music doesn't offer any classic selections from Link to the Past save one at the end. Some of them are okay, but some can also be repetitive and annoying. This shouldn't be too much of a problem, however, as you'll be often talking over the music to your partner(s), such as telling them what do, asking them where they are, or cussing at them for throwing you off a cliff.

Four Swords is an excellent multiplayer experience. Requiring two, three, or four players, it adds an entirely new dimension to the Legend of Zelda games. Gameplay is a unique experience for gamers, especially in the Zelda setting. It depends on cooperation to get by; you and your partner(s) must work together to get through the level and fight the boss. At intervals in each stage, players must cooperate to advance; both must stand on buttons or one must throw another across an open pit. However, in the end, it’s the player with the most rupees collected that wins, so there is constant competition as well. In many cases, rupees will fill the area, and it's an all out competition to get as many as possible. In most cases, each player will end up with about an equal amount. That is, unless you pull some dirty trick like lifting your opponent over your head, and keeping him out of range until you collect every rupee.

Things such as this, as well as verbal deception (i.e., "No, Jim, there aren't any rupees over here. Check in the lava pit, the one with all the spiders."), are the key to victory. There are also rupee ghosts that will steal your rupees, which one can sic on his enemy. All in all, this game is surprisingly good, and requires quick thinking, strategic thinking, reflexes, communication, cooperation, and deception. A great addition to the Link to the Past cartridge, this can make it a worthwhile purchase for those who already own the game.

Highs:

  • Both games have great action
  • Both games have classic puzzles
  • Awesome music in Link to the Past
  • Four Swords is a great multiplayer add-on to what was already a complete cartridge

Lows:

  • Link to the Past is nothing new for a lot of people
  • Four Swords may seem short and graphically not as smooth to some

Final Verdict:

Link to the Past is a great game worthy of being ported to the Game Boy Advance. This experience is only enhanced by the add-on of Four Swords. Certainly this is not a stand-alone, but when coupled with the masterpiece that is Link to the Past, the overall cartridge is a great buy. Graphically, musically, and gameplay-wise, Link to the Past is awesome. Replay lacks, but this shouldn't be a great concern for those who have yet to play it. Four Swords makes up for that and delivers some awesome multi-player action. The only problem that may be encountered is by those who own the Link to the Past cartridge for Super Nintendo and Four Swords alone does not make it worth the buy.

Overall Score: 9.3

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