Games / Game Reviews

Review: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds


By Sean Booker
December 6, 2013 - 14:15

It’s great to see Nintendo mixing up the Zelda formula and though the new twists don’t work out perfectly, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds still manages to be a really great game. The concept of renting items and taking on dungeons in any order really changes things up in an interesting way. It forces the player into an exploration mindset that the new wall merging mechanic greatly enhances. With the two huge maps for your traversing pleasure available there is a lot of engaging fun to be had.


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Nintendo strayed from the usual mold with this game by changing up two very key elements. The first is that you have access to every one of the main weapons whenever you want. From the beginning you will be able to rent or purchase any of the standard Zelda items (Boomerang, Bow, Bombs, etc.) and use them wherever you wish. Renting an item will be quite cheap but upon death you will have the weapon taken away from you. Purchasing comes into play later and allows you to keep the items indefinitely but has a much, much higher price point. Neither option is that bad considering the game isn’t all that hard and you are able to collect rupees at an extremely quick rate. By being offered any item to use the ways in which to tackle certain obstacles become much more varied and the overall exploration of the game is unlocked much earlier on.


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The second big change is that the game has hardly any order to how you tackle each dungeon. There will be a couple instances where certain temples need to be done before moving on but for the majority of the time you will have the option of going to any which area you wish. This is definitely nice if you ever find yourself stuck and would rather progress elsewhere instead of grinding to find one specific solution. It should also be noted that since you have access to a much greater diversity in weapons that each temple is quite shorter (and sometimes a bit too easy) than you would expect but the game does make up for that by having more than the usual eight. Each dungeon itself is quite nicely designed as well considering many of the areas have a strong focus on verticality in order to make good use of the 3D effect. One annoyance though is that a lot of the dungeons will still require a specific weapon to be used for most of the obstacles. Considering you aren’t given that information at the start it means there will be many situations where you get to a dungeon without being properly equipped and must return later with the right items. Some of the areas do inform you earlier on if you are lacking a certain weapon but it isn’t every time and can be quite irritating to have to backtrack.

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The big new mechanic found in this game is the wall merging ability that you will unlock a few hours in. This allows Link to become a painting on any wall in order to move along it. This gives you the ability to fit between bars and cracks or even walk over otherwise impassable areas. The game leans quite heavily on this ability and it’s great to see that there are a good number of interesting uses for it. Never does it feel simply tacked on, especially when looking at the level design and how the two work off one another.

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This game is obviously quite close to A Link to the Past, it takes place in the same world and it works as a sequel happening many years after. It’s really nice to return to this version of Hyrule that many of us are familiar with and the overhauled visuals and music make it feel brand new. Along with this you will encounter a second world called Lorule that acts as a dark and depressing counterpoint. This new world has completely different obstacles and enemies and you will have to warp back and forth in order to properly traverse and explore. Having access to two fully featured worlds is really great and, when partnered with the wall merging mechanic, pushes the common Zelda exploration to really great places.


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The game also features an easy to use fast travel system that will take you anywhere where you’ve already found that area’s weathervane. So even if you encounter an annoying moment of required back traveling, you’re usually only a few minutes away from being able to return. The weathervanes act as save points and will even move and flap around more chaotically the longer it has been since you last used one. The most curious downside to these objects though is that after a certain length of time they will advise you to take a break from playing the game. This is an unknown length of time, but it is very short. I was probably told to stop playing this game, by the game itself, almost every time I went up to one (and if you’re fast traveling that can be quite often).

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A Link Between Worlds also supports the 3DS’s StreetPass feature by adding in Shadow Links to your world that you can engage in combat with. Each enemy Link will have whichever items the person you walked by had equipped and will be worth more rupees upon defeat depending on how far into the game the opposing player is. It’s an easy way to rack up a ton of money quite quickly. There are also achievements incorporated to these fights. Some will require you to defeat the enemy using specific weapons or deal the final blow with something unique. There’s a lot to dig into and the game definitely gives a good reason to.

It’s really great to see that returning to this specific world still allowed for some new and very fun elements. The sense of exploration is huge considering how free you are to move throughout the two fully featured kingdoms. And the new wall merging and fast travel systems allows for hardly any tedium when hunting down each and every secret. The game uses all the 3DS’s features in fun and novel ways and comes across looking and sounding fresh. A Link Between Worlds is a great first step towards mixing up the Zelda formula and will hopefully be followed by more interesting ideas.

Rating: 8 /10


Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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