A Link to the Past is a faultless game. Released for the Super Nintendo in the 90s, a sequel was announced just last month and the internet pretty much collectively lost their minds. That’s how popular this two decade old game is.
And it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t be in love with it. For a start, the game is huge. Two completely different and giant overworlds to explore in the game’s genius light/dark world mechanic added an entirely new level to exploration. Gamers would discover that an action in one world could affect an object or environment in the other. That’s some sophisticated design for the time.
While the original Zelda laid the foundation for mass exploration, ALTTP hands down nailed it. For a start, it was actually worth looking around as it all looked and sounded beautiful, had secret items and upgrades everywhere and was littered with NPCs that added to the rich backstory of the game.
Speaking of the story, this is the first Zelda to weave a genuinely captivating yarn. Eight maidens being kidnapped for mysterious purposes, an evil wizard that assassinates the king, the death of your uncle and a prison break all occur in the first half hour of the game. I haven’t even mentioned some of the genuine twists and shocks that pop up. After games that basically boiled down to “go here and do this”, we had a refreshing change of pace.
It was the first Zelda to offer up huge, challenging and puzzling boss fights. For the first time you couldn’t win by simply going at it with your sword. The bosses required analysis and careful study to pinpoint and exploit weaknesses. Once you’d done that, you could go at it with your sword. But you’d earned it, so it was satisfying as hell.
The sheer amount of weapons to discover in Link’s armoury was truly a joy. Tracking down the bow and arrow, the hookshot and the Master Sword all felt massively rewarding. Add to that optional items like an invisibility cloak and medallions that essentially butchered anything onscreen and you were in business.
People say Ocarina of Time changed the series, but I say it all started here. This was when The Legend of Zelda stopped being good and started being so much more. I would argue that out of every game from this generation, A Link to the Past holds up the best. Check it out for yourself.