One of the most beloved games from my childhood was The Legend of Zelda. I played the original for the NES when I was in grade school, but my fascination with the series really took off when A Link to the Past came out, and there are a couple reasons why. Firstly, Nintendo Power magazine featured a comic book based on the game, a bit of marketing that really helped build the hype. Secondly, my best friend at the time was as big of geek as I was about the game, so having a friend along for the ride helped feed my own fascination.
But probably the most intriguing feature of this new game was that it took us into Hyrule's past, giving us an origin story. The most amazing aspect of this past Hyrule revolved around the so-called, Dark World. Not only would we have the "Light World" of Hyrule to explore, but we also had the Dark World to explore, a mirror image of Hyrule corrupted by Ganon's greed and desires. The worlds were connected by established portals in the Light World, but one of the single most beautiful concepts was how one world affected the other. Drain a dam in one world and you would open a path in the other world. Some items could only be obtained by traveling in between the two worlds, cutting through the reality of each like a sewing needle. Coupled with the games beautiful graphics and soundtrack, the A Link to the Past holds up as a beloved classic.
So naturally, I was pretty excited when I learned about a follow-up game called A Link Between Worlds, released the year for the Nintendo 3DS. A yes, a follow-up, not another freakin' remake! Remakes are fine and all, but I'm a story guy. If you're not doing anything but updated the graphics, it's not enough for me.
A Link Between Worlds takes place several generations after A Link to the Past. At first, it seemed I was pretty much headed for remake territory when I first started playing. Some of the names and features of the world had changed, and taking away the stormy opening sequence of ALttP didn't convince me. It wasn't until I started into the first dungeons and noticed that things only looked similar. Many of the puzzles were completely new, and those that I did recognize came welcome and also with just enough twist that they seemed fresh. When it came time to hit up Hyrule Castle, the place I knew would introduce me to "the other world", I was eager to move forward.
Even though I knew it was coming, I was shocked and even a little disoriented when it first happened. You see, one of the newest mechanics of ALBW is the ability to merge into a wall and become a painting that can move on the surface only, and this new mechanic is exactly what ties the two worlds together.
Another interesting mechanic is the introduction of tool rental. In the past Zelda games, you were pretty much required to go from one specific dungeon to the next because an item in dungeon A would allow you access to dungeon B. There was no real choice, of course a crafty player could figure out how to get around some of those obstacles. In ALBW, Link has the option to "rent" and eventually even buy some of the tools that allow him access not only to one or two of the dungeons, but nearly all of them. Rentals are lost if Link runs out of hearts, but if you can manage to buy them early, they're yours to keep.
I'm not through the game yet because I'm bogged down with work, but the few hours I've played here and there are really shaping up nicely. If you are on the fence about A Link Between Worlds because you think it might be a remake, remember this game only takes place in the same world (or worlds). The story and mechanics are much different, and in some respects, even improved upon.
And as a bonus, A Link Between Worlds adds more story to the already complex Zelda timeline, a world I will never get tired of.
Video Games, Comics, Movies, and Books. I'll talk about it all, and I'll tell you why it's so awesome!