I’ll try to keep this spoiler free. I played the game on the GameBoy Advance and this review will go in order of how the game plays.
So, right off the bat I was digging the setting for trying to save Zelda from the castle. I loved the pixel art and the rain environment. The first puzzle is trying to find a way into the castle which took me a while to figure out. The inside of the castle is very robust and has some other interesting puzzles.
After Link sets on his journey, he explores the world finding hearts and collecting rupees. I actually really disliked the map. I found that some areas that should have been accessible were blocked. This was not because Link didn’t have an item necessary to enter it, but because that was how the map was designed.
For example, from Hyrule Castle to your house below and to the left. Why is there a huge forest surrounding it? It forces me to go down to a screen and to the left, squeeze through a narrow passage and up two screens to reach the village! I also felt the areas in the map were not as interesting as Link’s Awakening and the first Legend of Zelda.
I’m not going to get too deep into the dungeons because I actually enjoyed them. However, the only thing I would say I was disappointed about was the music. There was no new music for the dungeons. None. Every dungeon was the same music and this became monotonous. It’s really sad because The Legend of Zelda is known for its memorable music. Now, I’m not sure if this was a limited space issue due to two games being on one cartridge or something. However, I remember Link’s Awakening having unique music for each dungeon and it was amazing. So, that was a huge let down there.
The tough dungeons for me were Tower of Hera: (specifically the boss),finding my way around the swamp palace near the end.
And Skull Woods, again trying to find my way around.
Ice Palace had so many floors and much needed magic. In addition, it is easy to get lost. I had to keep exiting the dungeon and return once my magic was replenished, I actually almost gave up playing the game on the Ice Palace Dungeon.
Turtle Rock gave me a little trouble because Link uses a large amount of magic to avoid obstacles and get around.
My favorite dungeons (based off a good challenge but fun at the same time) were the Eastern Palace, Tower of Hera, Dark Palace, Gargoyle’s Domain, Misery Mire and Ganon’s Tower. These dungeons were a great exercise of brain teasers and good hack n’ slashing.
Please note that I played this out of order from the series of Zelda games released. I missed the Super Nintendo version because I grew up with a Sega Genesis. I don not have the vice grip nostalgia that my fellow peers have on Link to the Past. However, a good Zelda game is a good Zelda game. Unfortunately, I have to say I did not like this one very much. I felt it was okay at best but I wouldn’t play it again nor would I recommend anyone else to play it who hasn’t already. The music was decent and the sound effects were too. And like I said, I never played this as a child. My first Zelda game was Link’s Awakening and then I played Ocarina of Time. So, I had no idea some of the music such as the village and Ganon’s Tower were the same from Ocarina of Time. Most of the sound effects were taken from A Link to the Past and used in Ocarina of Time and I thought it was the reverse. I thought that was pretty cool.That is the only nostalgic connection I have for A Link to the Past.
Some of my favorite items were the Pegasus Boots (I always loved these from Link’s Awakening), Ice Rod (I think this was in Oracle of Seasons?). The Magic Cape, (hella handy) Quake, Bombos and Ether. These were really powerful items and quite effective depending on where they were used. I enjoyed these a lot.
Cane of Byrna. This was helpful against enemies and some bosses. I didn’t expect those items to be that handy.
Cane of Somaria. I really liked this item to help solve some of the puzzles, very creative. The Fire Rod, super powerful and fun as long as there is enough in your magic meter.
Some of the other items I found useless, especially the bug catcher. I wish they just let Link catch what he wanted in the bottle directly. Again, I played Ocarina of Time first and I found that action was more effective. The magic hammer was not too helpful for me. I kind of liked it but what I enjoyed more was the sound it made when you hammered down spikes. The lamp was just silly and I really disliked how it wore down the meter.Obviously, the classic items were okay. The bows, the bombs, the boomerang.
Overall, I don’t feel like it lives up to the hype that most people have held it up to. I don’t have the nostalgia factor that everyone else has so my opinion may be a little biased here. However, I do know people that have not played it as child but as an adult and have liked it or even loved it. I feel like this Legend of Zelda was one of the weaker installments. I’m happy to have played it so it’s another Zelda off of my list.