On Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Spoiler: I LOVE IT
I am grateful that the world of gaming has grown since the days of NES and its nearly impossible feats of hand-eye coordination. If you missed a jump by a pixel, you were doomed to repeat the whole level–or even the whole game, given that save points hardly existed and codes and cheats were available to kids who could afford a Game Genie or subscriptions to Nintendo Power magazine. Like “Miss Susie Had a Steamboat,” we passed around the precious Contra code and the secrets of enough extra lives in Mario that the numbers turned into ASCII characters. Sit on my knee, people, and I’ll tell you more tales of woe. I played Pitfall. I’m a dinosaur.
I don’t miss it, honestly. I liked video games then, but I love them now. I get to actually enjoy content rather than rage quitting after the one hundredth missed attempt of some puzzle in early Tomb Raider games. Fuck those games.
Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to A Link to the Past, which makes me eminently unqualified to give a proper review because I’ve never played it. I didn’t even have a Super Nintendo. My brother did, but that princess lived in another castle and I didn’t spend enough time there to play LttP. This new Zelda, out for the 3DS, makes me want to go back and try my hand at the old one, but I know it suffers from the whole ‘old games kind of suck’ phenomenon I’ve been talking about. State saves on emulators help, but I always feel dirty doing that.
This is my favorite Zelda game for a handheld, period. It’s fully fleshed out, the mechanics are solid (mostly), and the story line is entertaining without being super involved. Perfect for the twenty minute wait at the doctor’s office or movie theater. If you’re in the middle of a thing, you can just closet the lid on your tiny console and Link will be waiting for you to return exactly where you left him. Just don’t let your battery die, bad things might happen (I don’t actually know, I’m too paranoid to find out).
Also: you have to take this game places, because if you use the StreetPass function, you can pick up other Links to battle in your game. That’s pretty fun and earns you rupees. Gotta make that paper. Er. Gems.
The things I’ve liked about all the Zelda games are present. There’s no grinding for levels, which I love. Want more HP and abilities? You have to find the hidden heart pieces and various weapons scattered about to move forward. Want really good gear? Find that hidden treasure chest in the dungeon and bam, half damage armor. This one is unique in that you can basically do the dungeons in any order you want, as long as you’ve gotten far enough in the game to unlock them. Most of the items you’ll need for game play are for rent and sale, rather than hiding in chests along the way. There are a few things like the ‘slam into a tree’ boots, swim fins, and power gloves that you’ll have to talk to people to find.
There are also plenty of little treasures to unlock that are meaningless to game advancement. The challenges are just challenging and not rage quit annoying. There are never enough bottles. You can ride the chicken. All things I love about Zelda.
There are a few things added that I really like, as well. I like getting all the items at once, and there are plenty of rupees to do that because NO WALLET LIMIT. Wallet limit was the most irritating portion of Twilight Princess, and yes I collected every damn bug pair in that game to get the big wallet. Being able to carry around as many rupees as I want is fantastic. I also like fast travel from anywhere outside to any save point, which is a big help and makes the game less tedious than older offerings. There’s a fun ability to go 2D which reminds me a lot of Paper Mario, another of my very favorite Nintendo games. Puzzles use all the different abilities in an intuitive way, and nothing feels useless or forced.
The “find the baby Maiamais” side quest is a particularly fun addition. Reminds me of a much cuter version of the gargoyles and gnomes from the Fable series.
(there are an awful lot of barely covered boob pictures on this guy’s site so, you know just fyi)
Two new game mechanics irritate the hell out of me. The first is that when you die, you lose all your rented items. Losing the items doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the requirement to travel back to your house to collect them again. I don’t mind paying twice, I mind the needless travel back and forth. Let me rent them from the little jerk bird who collects them, maybe? I mean, he’s there anyway.
The only other truly irritating thing I’m finding is that I have trouble aiming with the bow and hookshot. The 3DS has a little joystick rather than a D pad for movement. It is imprecise at best and often I can only get it to turn me in quarter turns instead of the small nudge I need to face the log or plate or killer electric cactus. A quarter turn is often too far, and I end up doing a lot of farting around with Link before I manage to point him the right direction. Maddening.
Oh, and the 3D feature looks really cool. I don’t use it, because motion sickness, but I suspect it’s neat. I do sometimes turn it on to get a better picture of what’s happening. The top-down view of the game hides some sneaky shit.
There are a few mini games I haven’t played all that much yet. Historically, mini games are the most frustrating part of Zelda for me–lots of rage quit moments to be had. We’ll see. I did play the gambling one a few times, drop x rupees for a chance at a lot more. So far, lost several times. I do not love that.
My advice: unlock the babies early in the game. That way you don’t have to go back through to find them. Use your pins. Use your compass. Don’t forget walkways and decorative wall structures can hide doors/openings. Be sure to merge on every wall, because if the door is flush with a wall, you won’t always see it on top-down view. Do the bee guy really quickly so you have a bottle and a net. There are a LOT of fairies in this game, and you’ll want the bottles and net to keep some on you.
I was looking forward to this game for months before I got it and it hasn’t disappointed me in the least. Go forth and collect empty bottles with my blessing.
Also, let me know if you come up with a good way to aim that hookshot that I’m missing, would you?