Hyrule’s king has fallen. The princess has been captured and all the royal guards have been possessed by the dark wizard Agahnim. You are awaken in the middle of the night by a telepathic warning by the princess and set on a journey to save the world from the clutches of evil. This is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
It’s no secret that I love this series, but what’s even more apparent is my love for this game. Shigeru Miyamoto managed to perfect the series on it’s third attempt. It made everything bigger and better. The game is now cluttered with tons of new locations to explore and have fun with. What seemed like a barren wasteland now houses a town, a forest, an enormous cave, a swamp, a desert, and just about any other video game trope know to man.
The Legend of Zelda on the NES played like a dream, then A Link to the Past released and cranked everything to 11. Link can now carry an arsenal of weapons to fight enemies and conquer tricky puzzles. Link possesses most of his previous weapons, but tenfold. Weapons can be upgraded multiple times, screen-filled magic can annihilate foes with one blast, a magic flute can be used to quick travel, and a mirror can be used to travel through two worlds adding to the plethora of puzzles in the enormous game. The team at Nintendo managed to make Link feel like an extension of your hands. His movements are improved from the originals and the added Pegasus Boots allow for faster traversal through Hyrule. Link has never felt this good in any Zelda title.
Waking up in the game’s prologue greets you with one of the best SNES effects. Yes, I mean the rain effect in the opening minutes of the game. Such an effect blew my mind when I first saw it as a child and it continues to look visually pleasing in 2017. Another draw to the game’s look is the enemy design of literally every monster. Each look physically different with their own set of rules that make the player question whether they are ready to face off or retreat to safety. On top of great enemy design, the bosses are the absolute best in the series. Yes, Ocarina of Time might be considered the best game of all time, but let’s think back to those bosses. Most of them were straight from A Link to the Past. Even the way the story progresses is straight out of the SNES title.
Looks aren’t all you know? From the moment you leave the underground waterway with Zelda in the opening moments of the game you are greeted to the Hyrule field theme and it sounds glorious. You and I know that this version of the theme is the best. Back when Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 released, the first stage of the single player mode was Hyrule Castle blasting the Link to the Past Hyrule theme. The moment it sounded off in the Nintendo Direct to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U DLC everyone blew up. This song deserves the recognition I’m throwing at it. Magic spells, especially bombos, make the SNES chug in power due to the awesome sound effects that Nintendo’s sound designers implemented. Let’s also not forget the eerie sounding Dark World theme were Ganon rules the land and it’s up you to stop him. No other Nintendo title has the ability to feed the player so many different feelings at once. Koji Kondo really out-did all his previous works through this one game.
The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past may or may not be your favorite game, but we all know why this title is important to gaming. It set the pace to mimic in action adventure games. It showed that video games where more than a quick adventure through a digital world and gave us a reason to adventure through every inch of Hyrule and to unearth every secret worth discovering. The look, the sound, the gameplay mechanics, and especially the epic story of good vs. evil make this my favorite video game of all time.
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