[3DS] Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
If you had to spit out the names of your top 10 favourite SNES games (heck, even the top 10 best video games of all time), it wouldn't surprise most to find the 1991 classic Zelda: A Link to The past listed, and for good reason. It successfully capitalized on the groundwork laid down by the NES Zelda titles, taking the genre to a new level. Combining an engrossing plot, complex dungeons, fun items, new 16-bit graphics and a memorable soundtrack. It was the real deal: a new, amazing gaming experience that continues to hold even by today's standards.
Once again, if you had to pick another Zelda title that solidified a new type of gaming experience, you wouldn't shock too many people by picking the first ever 3D-world Zelda on the N64. Namely, Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Just like A Link to the Past, this game not only introduced a new style of gameplay, but it blew everyone away while doing it (and 25+ hours of gameplay!).
Now, Nintendo has released an official sequel to the SNES classic on the 3DS. It's called A Link Between Worlds and has received a lot of praise from the media as being a worthy successor to one of the best games ever made. Sorry guys, it's definitely a great game and all, but it's just too hard to support that claim.
First off, there is very little in the way of innovation (aside from the whole "turning into a painting and walking along walls" ability, which is pretty cool). It plays just like the original and msot of the other Zelda overhead dungeon-crawlers. This is fine, but no special mention can be made.
So then, what shines? The plot? To be honest, I finished the game yesterday and forgot most of it. It's boilerplate with little in the way of memorable scenes or characters. Again, it's not bad, but there's nothing really memorable.
Gameplay? Well, it's certainly fun, but it's noticeably short and very, very easy. This is a bit of a paradox in gaming. Make it too hard, and they'll hate it. Make it too easy, and there's no point to it. Maybe this was directed at a younger audience, but then again, the 90's kids did just fine with the SNES version. Most Zelda dungeons and bosses usually can't be defeated on a first attempt. Figuring out the puzzles and weaknesses is a huge part of the genre.
Graphics and Music? The music is actually great. But it should be. The graphics are bright and colourful, keeping with with SNES concept. However the 3D cut-scenes are outperformed by the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time. Still, not a big issue necessarily.
So even though it's still a lot of fun, I'm deliberately tough on this game mainly because I feel it's just getting way too much praise about being an instant classic. Instant classics are titles such as A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, etc, where not only can you remember playing them, but you can remember how you felt when you played them. That's a unique, high standard that this game just doesn't deserve.
Although it made for a fun weekend and any Zelda fan would be happy to buy it, you could probably offer me 20 bucks for and I would sell it. People are still playing the SNES titles today, but I have a hard time imagining wanting to revisit this title anytime soon, which is a rising issue in gaming today.
Fun alternative: Seek out "StarTropics" for the original NES. It's one of the best non-Zelda Zelda games you can find that not many seem to remember. It's fantastic and deserves a decent reboot. As a matter of fact, putting the 40 bucks into buying an NES and this game might be better spent than on the new 3DS Zelda, by some measures! Either way, you can't lose.