The first part of this game (up to the Master Sword and the first Agahnim fight) was 10/10 for me, giving you clues about where to go next but never holding your hand too much, letting you explore freely to find some secrets with the items you've obtained up to that point. The remaining 2/3 of the game were overall a bit more confusing about what to do between one dungeon and another, and I had to check a guide to find some useful items in the overworld (I recommend going for 100% items and heart pieces, because in this game you take A LOT of damage in some parts, especially in the Dark World) as some stuff wasn't that clear, but apart from that every dungeon was well designed and the game in general, although pretty tough, was never unfair. I understand why it is considered a classic.
Now I understand why so many people call this a classic. A masterpiece, but not a timeless one. The game is fun, some times intuitive, and I have to admit I got frustrated many times because I didn't knew were to go, but I can say that there's a reason so many Zeldas after this followed on A Link To The Past footsteps.
The sprites are beautiful, the dungeons are well made (besides that insanity of the Thief's Lair and The Ice Palace), oh and SO MANY ITEMS! the music is amazing too! You will get some of them stuck in your head too since many are now series staples.
I would recommend this to some one that wants to know the franchises history but thinks that Zelda 1 and 2 are a bit archaic. You will not regret it!
I don't really think there's much to say about this game that hasn't been said, so I'll keep this short. I wasn't a huge fan of the hit detection or like, overall feel of the game? Too often I felt like I was in the wrong place, or attacking the wrong way, and it just kinda felt mushy to me. Also, some of the late game dungeons throw back to zelda 1 in terms of opaqueness and lack of direction. ANyways pretty much the rest of the game is wonderful, and I get why so many people love this game, even if I don't really. That world, and all the ways you get to explore it at your own pace, would certainly be magical if I was a kid, and had all the time in the world.
I realize this game is not entirely my cup of tea, I had to look up and follow a guide a lot of the time 'cause I was lost or missing an item, also a lot of the bosses were lowkey kicking my ass into the dirt.
However despite all this I find that there is a lot to love and I can definitely recognize how important LTTP is to video games as a medium. From the score, to the world bursting with secrets, to the smaller things like the jingles of making a discovery, LTTP is nothing short of iconic.
A lot of the magic while I can still definitely appreciate is a little lost on me due to my frustrations but I mean come on it's LTTP of course its worth playing and of course it's a gem.
Exactly the step up Zelda deserved. A Link to the Past is a fantastic game, and a pitch perfect evolution of the formula established with the first game on the NES. It has aged like a fine wine too, and is still extremely fun to play today.
Unfortunately I played this as a tiny handed youth and was never able to finish it, but that never stopped me spending an ungodly amount of time in this game's enchanting take on Hyrule.
Primeiro Zelda que joguei. Apesar de algumas partes não serem bem intuitivas, me diverti bastante.
Finished this for the first time in 2023 and wow, this game was so ahead of its time. I was consistently impressed by what I discovered through my play-through, and the variety of things Link would end up doing. It has several quality of life problems that old games tend to do but was a worthwhile experience. I can't imagine what it would have felt like playing this when it came out. The graphics alone would have been mind-blowing.
The world is incredibly fleshed out and interesting to explore. It truly captures the spirit of exploration that Zelda games were designed for from the beginning. You are rewarded for spotting oddities and the in-game map detail is limited so the world is expertly designed to be easily navigated from memory. ALTTP was great at having things to explore for exploring's sake, not because of some quest or NPC direction. Most games today still don't get this right.
Speaking of exploration, it has dungeons that truly feel like dungeons. I think this is because they have more of focus on combat and navigational challenges than puzzle solving, but they are still fun. You can quickly get lost even with the compass and map, and the dungeons with dark room elements enhance that feeling even further. Descending some 6 floors and getting stuck for an hour in the depths of the Ice Palace was an experience that nearly drove me insane, but I can't deny it captured the feeling of exploring a dungeon incredibly well.
Link has an abundance of tools and items in this game, although many of them are only used once or twice and then never again. I found this annoying mostly because they each have to be selected before use, as you only have one button for all your items. And somehow the L/R buttons go completely unused unless you are playing the Redux romhack which lets you cycle items with them. The Zelda team certainly learned to refine the item kit in later games, and the reason why really shows here.
Some other small complaints: combat knock-back is so high that it easily gets annoying, and the dungeon and boss fight songs are incredibly repetitive and become grating fast. I suspect the short musical loops are due to the cartridge memory limitations, but I'd rather have no music than annoying music, and the dungeon theme is by far the song you will listen to the longest in your time playing.
Aside from that, this game has great musical elements, excellent animation and sprite-work, a weirdly-dark story, memorable characters, and a truly epic feel. I hope one day it gets remade to bring in modern quality of life features. Even just a remaster with new UI and mapping more of a modern controller's buttons would be a god-send.
really loved this! i dont know if im just impatient, but i did use a guide for almost all of it (after whatever it was that caused me my first roadblock). i think that's more of a me thing, that it still felt a little too obtuse for me to play it completely on my own, but it keeps me from really really cementing it as an all timer for me. still - really great. looks amazing, sounds amazing, plays amazing, really fun and challenging. a great video game.
always felt like this was the most "fun" zelda on a moment-to-moment basis, bordering on a power fantasy with how exciting the new items are to get and how rapidly you gain them
ice dungeon wasn't as bad as i remembered
ice dungeon wasn't as bad as i remembered
If Ganon turned into a big worm Hyrule would be finished I can tell you that
The GBA port for ALTTP is one of the first few games I got on the system when I was younger. I'd always just get all three pendants, and get lost on what to do next. I think I might have rescued one or two of the maidens, but that was always where the game stopped for me.
I decided to finally take the time to play through it start to finish on an emulator, since I was feeling a little bit "sour grapesy" from my inability to afford the new shiny Zelda game. I had a decently good time with it, and it definitely still holds up very well. I've never been too big of a Zelda fan, all things considered, but it held my attention all throughout. Maybe I should start giving the series a more thorough look.
Unfortunately, while I tried to play without a guide, I did cave during certain sections and had to look up how to proceed. These retro games can be pretty obtuse, man...
Meu jogo favorito de TODOS!
Não só de todos os jogos da franquia Zelda, mas de todos os jogos que eu já joguei.
Essencial pra qualquer jogador.
Não só de todos os jogos da franquia Zelda, mas de todos os jogos que eu já joguei.
Essencial pra qualquer jogador.
is it a good game? yes. did I have fun playing it? ...err kind of?
This is the second zelda game I have played. I loved the world, its characters, and its puzzles. But it had far too many enemies to fight for my liking and it grew frustrating that they would respawn immediately after leaving/ re-entering an area. In the end I somewhat gave up on exploring and trying to solve puzzles because I was too busy avoiding the same respawned enemies for the dozenth time. Using a walkthrough guide to check on when I got stuck was probably the only way I was able to be motivated to complete the game.
On a more positive note though, I really enjoyed seeing world building elements that have carried over into breath of the wild - I had no idea so many things were already established in earlier games. I loved link's pink hair and the gorgeous drag queen fairies. And I absolutely loved that I could have a little bee friend with me to fight by my side whenever I wanted.
I've been meaning to replay this for the longest time, but holy shit what a blast! I did this in like a day and a half and I didn't even notice. The level design in this is brilliant, I love the world they created, and just about everything about it is fantastic. I love exploring the world they created and discovering goodies and secrets, I love entering different dungeons and fucking up some cool ass bosses... It's so much fun.
This playthrough (I think) is the first time I've 100% completed it, full items, all upgrades, and all Heart Pieces. It actually was a lot quicker than I thought it would be, I got most of them on my own before I got stuck and used a guide for like the last four heart pieces. Also, totally forgot how quick this game is- either that or I totally rushed through it.
It's such good fun and the game design is so perfect how it naturally leads you everywhere you're supposed to go, and discover all its secrets.
Very happy to have finally replayed this one, and next on my list is Oracle of Seasons, which I haven't played since maybe 2016.
This is an insanely well made title and a staple of the SNES era. The puzzles are creative, the world is vast, and the entire game is a memorable experience that defines many 2D games and still holds up by today's standards. This is a true classic, and a game I can enjoy regardless of time.
(This is the 57th game in my challenge to go through many known games in chronological order starting in 1990. The spreadsheet is in my bio.)
The Game of the Year, ladies and gentlemen. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, initially released on November 21, 1991 in Japan for the SNES, developed and published by Nintendo, is a fantastic action-adventure and is the Zelda game that has set the framework for the series in so many ways from here on out, and that it has done such a great job with that concept here already deserves a lot of praise (of which it got a lot I hear).
I can talk on and on about the positives, but I'll go over everything in detail in my review. Though I do want to add that I am surprised that Nintendo, after releasing a Game Boy Zelda game in 1993, didn't release another home console game in the series all the way until 1998. That's seven years from now. Of course, releases were almost an annual thing from then on for about a decade, but I am still surprised about this little fact. At release, this game received a 39/40 Famitsu score, the first game to ever get a score so high according to Wikipedia's article on the game, and was the best-selling game in 1991, so it's not like Nintendo wasn't aware of its popularity. Though the gap between BOTW and TOTK was even larger, so it's not any different today. Anyway, here is the review.
STORYTELLING/CHARACTERS | 7/10
The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past takes a massive leap in narrative in comparison to Zelda I and II. Unlike all the other improvements the game presented with the jump to the SNES, the narrative jump did not have to be this grand. In hindsight, it's what this gaves this game that little something that many games lack in atmosphere and in what players would be able to draw back on years after finishing the game.
While Zelda II simply had a scrolling text to explain the set-up and then have you go side to side until you get the "you won" text, ALTTP goes to great detail (for its time) explaining the mythology of its world.
The setting is Hyrule, which, according to Hylian scrolls, many moons ago was created by mythical gods of Power, Wisdom and Courage. It is said that after finishing their work, they left a symbol of their strength hidden somewhere in Hyrule, a golden triangle known as the Triforce. The Triforce myth, an ancient epic, tells that this Triforce, an inanimate object, may grant the wish of the person who finds it. Its hiding place is the Golden Land, and over time, more and more people, fueled by greed, looked to find it, killing each other in the progress.
One day, by accident more than anything, a gang of thieves led by Ganondorf Dragmire, or Ganon, found the gate to the Golden Land. Ganon quickly vanquished his followers to have the Triforce's powers for himself. It is explained that the Triforce can not judge between evil and good and grants every wish, so while Ganon's exact wish is not known, it did not take long for evil power to flow from the Golden Land and for disasters to beset Hyrule.
This led the lord of Hyrule to sent out the Seven Wise Men and the Knights of Hyrule to seal the entrance to the Golden Land. A war raged between them and Ganon's evil army. As the Knights struggled to find off the army, they did give the Seven Wise Men the required time to magically seal Ganon in the Golden Land. In the midst of this, the people of Hyrule, suspecting that Ganon's power stemmed from the Triforce, created a mighty weapon resistant to magic which could repulse powers granted by even the Triforce. This weapon is called the Master Sword. It is so powerful that only one of pure heart can wield it.
A long time later, you, Link, are woken up by a person who calls herself Zelda. She needs your help. The reason for her pleas? Ganon, while still sealed in the 'Dark World' (the current name for the Golden Land), wants to take over the 'Light World' (Hyrule) as well. To break the seal, he needs the life force of the seven wise men. He uses a wizard, Agahnim, as his pawn to do this, who captures the seven wise men one by one. You need to save them and kill Ganon once and for all.
And that's the back-story. Quite a detailed one, huh? This information can mostly be found in the manual for the game, but each of the seven wise men you are supposed to capture, and Zelda herself especially, tell you these stories in-game as you interact with them, leaving you with no blanks even if you didn't touch the manual.
With how limited the storytelling used to be during this time, I didn't find any of the main plot points for this game to be terribly sophisticated. But what this game did really well was to go in-depth regarding these plot points. To create plot points for all these important parts of the story at all. This is an action-adventure game with lots of puzzles of all varieties, and getting stuck and exploring to find a way forward is what you are meant to do all the time. So having an in-depth narrative like this compared to the majority of games from this time is actually pretty damn useful in motivating the player to keep going.
Out of these plot points, there is a lot to like, but I want to point out the description of the Master Sword in particular, as personally I am a big fan of weapons that can only be wielded by good-hearted people, I think that's a great sort-of requirement to set for all those young people who played this back in the day. For that reason I think when you eventually get the Master Sword, there could have been a bigger deal made of it, but maybe that's something for a later game in the series.
All in all, in terms of the big picture, the plot here is nothing special. It's a much more sophisticated telling of more or less the same story most games of the time used, but with slightly more depth to it and 'gamified' so the devs could use it as a framework for the game they were about to built. The seven wise men for example aren't this mysterious ancient group, they act as seven dungeons that you are meant to explore and beat in the game. It could have just easily been three or four, but the game would have not been as long this way. The Light and Dark worlds are simply two overworlds that you can explore, and instead of having to design two very distinct ones in shape, the same overworld style was used and just made darker and with a few changes to the traversal were made. So if you want to be cynical, yes, the game design shaped the narrative, but I don't think that's a bad thing for a game, especially of its time, and I appreciate the devs for putting in the effort to have the story not just be an afterthought to the gameplay but have it be integrated in everything you do like this.
GAMEPLAY | 16/20
This game is an action-adventure and introduces more or less the core design that the majority of the follow-ups would stick to in the Zelda series. It plays from top-down 2D perspective. You control Link and traverse an overworld filled with many secrets, enemies and dungeons. The main gameplay consists of the following loop: You need to enter a specific dungeon. The dungeons take pretty long, have multiple floors and consist of many different puzzles the player needs to solve in order to progress to the boss. During each dungeon, you find a special item, like a Fire-Rod, an Ice-Rod, a boomerang, a staff of invincibility, a hook shot, a magic hammer and more. These not only help you beat the dungeon, but once you do, you return to the overworld and a ton of optional (and mandatory, you just don't know it yet) sections of the overworld now open for you to be explored. The magic hammer for example allows you to pound stakes and obstacles into the ground which had blocked off certain areas before.
During exploration, through which there is a LOT to find, you can open up holes to secret rooms, you can find NPCs who give you side quests, you can find environmental puzzles and hints (a shield says that you should not throw something into a circle of stones, I wonder what happens if you do it anyway), you can stumble upon pieces of a heart (4 of which give you one additional hitpoint) and you find required items to potentially open up other dungeons, like a certain medaillon for example.
There are also many different caves and buildings to go to, as these often offer you optional, but incredibly useful upgrades to your gear. Help a gnome find his way to his partner and you are rewarded with an upgrade to your sword. Find a fountain, throw rupees in and you can increase the amount of bombs/arrows you can carry. You can give certain items you find to certain NPCs, who reward you with different items. "I wonder who would have any use for this mushroom?".
There is quite a lot to do here, and I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't stuck multiple times. Taking a break of more than a week in this game means you're almost guaranteed to start over or use a guide, because a lot of information that you absolutely are required to have comes from one-time dialogue with NPCs often enough. If you don't pay attention or take a break and forget this information, you're going to be looking around for that one elusive item for a while. The game doesn't hold your hand one bit, and that's something each of you will have your own opinion about. Personally, I appreciated this because for the majority of this game, the game design matched this need for exploration by giving you multiple bread crumbs for almost everything you need to figure out. I personally missed some, for sure, and therefore had to make use of a guide a couple times, but if you enjoy the exploration part of this game a lot (and don't want to save some off those minutes to be able to progress through a challenge quicker), I'm sure you can manage to beat it without a guide.
That said, I had two issues here, which I explain more closely in the Level Design part of this review. First, is that the overworld traversal is not perfect and is too reliant on Save & Exit's to not slow the pace down considerably, and the second is that some solutions are not very intuitive. Here is a room which a bunch of tiles. You have to move one tile in a specific direction to make a chest appear. Here are 20 statues with their tongues showing. None do anything after you hit them, pull them and dash into them. Here another dozen. They don't do anything. Here are another 4. One of these opens the door you need to progress. When these are all in the same dungeon and you're stuck, and pretty much anything can trigger anything at times, it can definitely become a frustrating excercise of trial and error.
But these issues don't overshadow the excellent gameplay experience that is on offer here.
The combat is pretty straightforward. You point in one of four directions and can slash forward with your sword. Holding the attack button also produces a 360° attack. You gain a dashing ability pretty early on, which damages the majority of enemies if you dash into them. Many items you find later on also can be used for attacking purposes, so it's rare that you only rely on your sword for too long. Apart from bombs and arrows which you can constantly re-fill, you get a boomerang, fire- and ice rods, three medaillons that produce special attacks and more, some of which drain your 'magic meter', as they'd otherwise be too overpowered. Different enemies have different susceptibilities. Some can only be killed with fire, some need to take an arrow to their eye and late-game skeletons don't fully die unless you kill them with a bomb.
My main gripe is that since you can only slash forward, hitting the target can sometimes be an issue, though not too often to make it annoying. For example, some enemies have a shield or other forms of frontal protection. The shield may be on the right hand of the enemy, which means you need to place yourself further down to hit their left side, which exposes you to a hit for half a second. Then there are enemies that start producing shock waves at random times, and there is no warning for it, so way too often, you'd swing and in those couple frames between swing and hit, the shockwaves can activate and cause rather significant damage to you. Also, there are many enemies that cause knock-back. Since dungeons often have holes that you can fall into, hitting enemies and falling into them can be annoying, but avoiding the fight usually solves that issue. Finally, this is another one of those games where you need to regularly open up your inventory to change weapons, which is a common issue with games that use multiple items like this. It's not too bad but noticeable when you fight particular bosses, especially Ganon at the end.
In terms of controls, this game plays and controls pretty fluently. You want to do something, and Link does it. The only instance where I felt that the controls were truly unfair were on tight platforms where you could fall off to the sides. For some reason, walking and turning had this slippery feel to it, and instead of making a sharp right or left, Link would need a few steps to gain momentum to that side, which often leads to him falling down. On ice-y platforms I understand, but on regular platforms this was odd.
Overall though, this game offers great gameplay and exploration. It proves why it's so popular, as it is several times more polished than other action-adventures of this time.
MUSIC/SOUND/VOICE | 9/10
No voice acting. And I'm glad, at least for the SNES version, because the constant screaming of Link in the GBA version I definitely couldn't have survived for 15+ hours.
The sound design and soundtrack are both excellent here. There are some sound effects, like the discovery of a secret door, that is so iconic that even I, someone who didn't really play any Zelda games before, instantly was able to notice it. In general, there are sound effects for pretty much every action and they all sound clean, which is not something that was to be expected from games on this level at the time. The soundtrack is great for the epic journey that this is supposed to be, with many epic tracks fitting the scneario. I would have wished for more tracks to use during dungeons to make them more distinct on an auditory level, but I also would understand those who say that listening to fewer tracks increases the 'bond' with them on a nostalgic level. Many games today opt for fewer tracks as well, so I wouldn't call it a negative.
GRAPHICS/ART DESIGN | 10/10
The graphical jump here from Zelda II to ALTTP is obviously absurd, but apart from simple image quality and resolution, the art design here also stands out. Bright colors, beautiful 16-bit graphics, excellent sprite work, diverse environments and very solid special effects. Apart from just the eye-candy perspective, the game incorporates a lot of environmental puzzles to its exploration, and the tells from the environmental design are excellent as well. Here is tiny half-circle that indicates a platform, here is a small crack in the wall that is not noticeable until closer inspection, but very noticeable thereafter, indicating a secret area.
You explore all types of different areas in the game, from distinct dungeons and, to be overworld specific, forests, deserts, mountains, swamps, castles and more, and you have few, if any games that look quite like this on such a scale at the time.
ATMOSPHERE/IMMERSION | 9/10
You truly feel like a hero embarking on an epic journey in this one. The graphics and soundtrack set a great stage for your travels, and there is a lot of attention to detail in the world-building that one can only appreciate. A cute thing for example was when I passed the controller to my six year old brother for a while. He started swinging his sword at a bird in the Dark World that just would not die, and to our amazement, after a few dozen hits, dozens of the same bird started flooding the screen and attacking us. Small details that most players won't experieence are always fun to find. One additional thing I enjoyed is that there is actual in-game meaning to the items you find. You don't find a generic book, you find the Book of Mudora, which can translate inscriptions. You find Staffs of Somaria and Byrna, you find three magic medaillons like the Bombos, which only the hero bearing the master sword can retrieve. It's really basic at this point of course, but it does add to the immersion.
CONTENT | 10/10
Few games are so chock-full of stuff to find while exploring. The great part is that the majority of the overworld does have stuff to find. The overworld is seperated through screens, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is something useful or interesting on each screen.
LEVEL/MISSION DESIGN | 8/10
You have specific dungeons to go to, which are marked on your map. That's all that is marked though. You need to find your way there on your own and sometimes, you need to find specific items that unlock your entry to the dungeons themselves. This is all paced really well.
The overworld is differentiated in two versions, the Light World and the Dark World. These are basically the same overworld, but with different looking environments, different obstacles and more enemies on the Dark World part. For example, in the Light World, there is a Kakariko Village to the west, and in the Dark World, the same area is called Village of Outcasts. You can switch between these worlds in two different ways. You can either use a 'Magic Mirror' to switch from Dark to Light, or, since you can't switch back this way, you need to find a warp portal to switch from Light to Dark.
All in all, the game is really well designed. My only issue here is how annoying traversal can be at times. Unless you want to run across the map for the umpteenth time, you have to rely on 'Save & Quit', which allows you to select a location to spawn in (when in the Light World) once you enter back into the game, or which places you at a specific spot near the middle of the overworld (when in the Dark World). Later, the flute item allows you to fast travel to specific locations in the Light World. But this is a minor issue overall and a subjective thing for sure, though more interconnectivity that opens up shortcuts later on would have been amazing.
One additional point I want to make is that some items are very hard to find or making progress can be tough to figure out at times. And while my complaint is not that part, it's that crucial information is often given once and as an aside, so not paying attention once or simply forgetting about something hours after getting the information means you can be stuck for a while. I don't think a journal that notes the most important stuff would have been the worst thing in the world.
Overall, the game balances it game quite well though. You'll get a great dose of exploring, of making your way through large dungeons, of battling and do so in a very good pace for the majority of it.
CONCEPT/INNOVATION | 10/10
Inner-series, the jump from Zelda II to ALTTP is incredible, but even generally, there was no game quite like this at the time, or at least none that managed to put it together quite as well in an action-adventure setting. There is greated attention given to storytelling and world-building, the soundtrack is great, the graphics are cream of the crop, the dungeons are uniquely designed and offer a fun challenge and exploration is incredibly rewarding.
REPLAYABILITY | 3/5
There are more than a few side quests you can still find on subsequent playthroughs, as well as heart pieces. Even improving your sword or upgrading your bomb and arrow space are completely optional parts that are easy to miss, so there will be plenty to discover. The story is linear however and most special items you can find are mandatory.
PLAYABILITY | 5/5
The game worked well at all times.
OVERALL | 86/100
You want to know what the best game of 1991 is? You've probably just read the review for it. Few games during this time allowed for this much exploration and managed to for the majority of the game to balance the joy of discovery with the potential frustrations of being stuck this well by offering breadcrumbs of info in its NPC dialogue and environments that attentive players take to their advantage to continuously make progress. The dungeons are distinct, large and filled with environmental puzzles and combat challenges to overcome. The soundtrack is very good, the graphics great in comparison to its contemporaries and while the overworld design does get somewhat tedious from time to time, you're going to get a very good and prototypical Zelda experience here. If you like Zelda games and you didn't play this, I don't know what you're doing. If you're unsure, future releases will likely offer plenty of QoL improvements that will make them more newcomer friendly, but even if you start your Zelda journey somewhere else, don't forget about A Link To The Past.
One of the best Top down zelda's a Must Play!
My babysitter's nerdy, eldest daughter played this while making funny voices, so this game gave me something like an IRL let's play experience from my childhood.
Playing it for myself months later, then again via emulation, a decade after that, I can say this much:
A-woop, weew, A-woop, weew, A-woop, weew.
Not my favorite 2D Zelda game since I like the sequels Link's Awakening and A Link Between Worlds more but it is a timeless game that redefined 2D Zelda right after the NES.
And yes I only decided to fully play and beat it since Tears of the Kingdom comes out tomorrow.