Monday, 24 September 2012

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past title screen
I remember playing this one before a few years back, though nothing much about what I actually did in it. But it was requested so I'm playing it again. It seemed like a good time for it anyway, seeing as it's the game's 20th anniversary today... in Europe.

This was originally called 'Triforce of the Gods' in Japan, but it was changed for the English release because Nintendo of America were getting rid of references to religion at the time. Also it was an excuse to stick Link's name in the title again. Zelda always gets all the fame, and she's barely even in the games.

Despite this being Legend of Zelda 3, I don't think it continues on the plot from the other two games, which is good for me because I didn't get anywhere in either of them.

Legends tell of a Golden Power in a Golden Land, which a lot of people have been interested in getting hold of. Unfortunately none who went after it ever returned, and when evil power started leaking out the King decided enough was enough and had the place sealed up by seven wise men.

Many years later, a bloke called Agahnim took over the throne and decided to make the wise men's descendants 'disappear' to release the seal. And Princess Zelda's gonna be next!

You can probably tell by the screenshot (if you didn't know already) that they've dropped Zelda II's sideview gameplay, and have gone back to the classic Zelda 1 overhead perspective. The platformer RPG actually seemed to be a popular genre in the late 80s, with other franchise sequels like Castlevania 2 latching onto the trend, but I guess Zelda fans preferred the top down approach.

So of course the CD-i Zelda games went right back to platforming a year or so after this and made no one happy.

Whoa, Zelda has long range telepathy? That's a handy skill which I'm sure she'll get a lot of use out of throughout the game. She must really be in trouble though if Link's the first person she calls to help her.

Wait, there's one bed in this house and two people living here. Do they take shifts, with the blue haired guy getting to sleep during the day?

What a stroke of luck, with the old man out of the house there's an opportunity for me to sneak out and rescue Zelda! But then again he said not to leave the house. I have conflicting mission goals.

He never said anything about not opening that incredibly tempting chest though. But I'm not gonna. I'm going to just walk right out of here, and never find out what's in there. Could be an extra heart, or my sword, or anything. Could be absolutely essential to finishing the game. But it'll remain a mystery.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past rain animation
I couldn't find any clothes in the house, so I'm going to have to rescue Zelda in pyjamas. In the rain. The awesome looking rain.

Fortunately Zelda's given me a telepathic mission update so at least I know where I'm going.

Wow, Link lives basically next door to the King. Well I guess that explains why he was the first person Zelda turned to for help instead of, I dunno, an adult.


A SHORT WALK THROUGH THE FOREST LATER.


Lucky I've played this before, or it might have taken me a while to find this hidden entrance. The game kind of relies on you figuring out by this point that bushes can be picked up.

Oh no! Turns out that the old guy was (probably) actually the hero Zelda was calling out to! Sadly he couldn't even make it halfway down the first hallway. So it's up to young Link to rescue... well, she's got to be his sister right? I doubt he was using his dying breath to say 'cousin'.

Well, I didn't think these two could be related anyway, after all the man's got blue hair, and Link has brown... wait, he's got PINK HAIR? How did I not notice that?

The enemies have shields, so I've got to strike them in the right place to kill them. I've been trying to use my spin attack instead, but it takes a second to charge up, and I keep screwing up the timing. And unlike in Zelda 1, my sword doesn't fire swords, even if I have full health.

Actually I don't know why I'm even bothering with these guys. There's no XP in this game, if I'm very lucky I might get some health by killing them, but I've got full hearts so there's no point. I might as well just run past them all.


LATER.


Hey, I'm in the actual castle! I thought I was just taking a secret route to the dungeons, but I'm going around every room here. Man, the security in this place is terrible if a kid can break in and slaughter half the guards.

The perspective in this place is messing with my head though. I'm somehow walking down a vertical ladder like it was a staircase, but the wall it's attached to is leaning right. And the bricks are spaced further apart as they go up, but Link doesn't get bigger. And... hang on I'll just show you.

If I spin the camera around a bit you can see what I'm talking about. That door on the right's got some serious lean to it.

Uh, please excuse the crudity of this model.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past equipment screen
Yay, I've got the boomerang! To be honest I'm just using this as an excuse to show off the inventory screen. It's a smart idea to have each button have it's own colour coded section, even if they didn't change the colours to purple and lavender for the US version.

Hey, I've found Princess Zelda! Also some more crazy perspective: the walls lean, but the bars don't.

No, mustn't focus on perspective, have to concentrate on this fight. The guy seems a little tougher than the average guard, but nothing a boomerang and sword can't handle if I'm paying attention.


ONE SHORT ESCORT MISSION LATER.


Damn, that was the easiest escort mission I've ever played. Mostly because Zelda is a very sensible princess, and made sure to get out of the way so that Link took all the damage.

But the job's done and I've got an extra heart for my trouble, making me 33% healthier! But of course team Zelda still isn't happy, and they want to rope me into another job.

Crap, I've forgotten what they asked me to do already. Uh, I think I'm meant to be looking for an elder. Is this the elder's house maybe? The sign... well, it doesn't say 'elder', but it doesn't not say elder.

It turned out to be a fortune teller's house, so I handed over 15 rupees to learn my fate. Which turned to be 'to find the elder'. Thanks for that mate.

I guess this place is the game's replacement for a journal, with 15 rupee tax for vague instructions about what I'm meant to be doing. Honestly I would have preferred it if they'd just thrown in a journal.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past wanted poster
They could have gone with 'this is the criminal that broke into the castle and killed 30 royal guards', but I guess they were going for something halfway credible. I suppose I should change my appearance then, where's the button to take Link's hat off?

You don't have to tell me to look for the elder, I came here to tell you I was looking for the elder!

Great, seems like I'll be stuck searching every house in town for this guy. Some good old tedious house-searching gameplay, that's what I like in my video games.

I found this sliding block puzzle in the basement of one of the houses. It seemed like it'd be a challenge to open all the boxes at first, but then I realised that it resets every time I leave, so it's really pretty simple.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past shop
I've found two shops in town, one sells hearts, bombs, and mysterious red soup, and the other sells one single bottle. And I was kind of hoping to buy a journal.

Oh well, I might as tell take 10 bombs while I'm here. You never know when you might need a bomb.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past world map
Finally I found someone who knows where the bloody elder is. Turns out he's hiding on the other side of the world map. Fortunately this isn't exactly Skyrim, so it should only take me a minute to walk over there.


ONE MEETING WITH THE ELDER LATER.


Took me about 90 seconds to get across, and that's after making a wrong turn along the way. Considering that the world is made up of small sections, with a pause each time I walk between them, I can calculate from that the Kingdom of Hyrule is about... I dunno, 400 or so meters square.

And now I'm in another dungeon, dodging balls, trying to find a pendant for the elder, so I can prove I'm the one worthy enough to wield the Master Sword. Like there's any other candidates around.

Legend of Zelda Link to the Past map screen
Here's the map screen by the way. Can't think of anything to say about it really, except I'm glad it exists.

Hang on, something's just occurred to me. Zelda 1 had a mini-map on the screen at all times, and this doesn't. It wasn't a particularly great mini-map, but it's a little strange that they dropped it entirely instead of improving it.



HALF A DUNGEON LATER.


Crap, stabbed in the back by a demon from the darkness! I knew I should have lit the torches and brightened the room up. I stopped bothering when I realised they burn out in no time at all.

I've been having a bit of trouble killing these enemies actually, more than I probably should be having. The problem is that Link can move in 8 directions, but can only face 4 of them, no diagonals. So if I'm moving towards an enemy that's diagonally across from me, I might end up facing him side on without quite realising it, until I start waving my sword in the wrong direction and end up getting hit.

I suppose 'do not save and do not continue' is the power switch.

Like in Zelda 1 I have infinite continues, and I respawn all the way back at the dungeon entrance if I screw up. I'm just hoping all those doors I just unlocked stay stay that way.

Oh shit oh shit oh shit! Cannonballs flying around from all directions! I already lost most of my health running around hitting the floor tiles, trying to open the door, and now I need to survive long enough to get through it.

Great, now I'm at my first real boss fight. Well I'm pretty sure I know how to defeat them at least: lots and lots of arrows.

Every dungeon seems to give me a new tool I'll need to make progress, like the lantern in the first dungeon, and this time I've picked up a handy bow that lets me damage armoured opponents.

Fuck. I can't believe the game let me run out of ammo in a boss fight. I switched to bombs, but I just can't get them in the right place to hit him. I'm not sure I can even win this anymore.


MUCH LATER.


Whoa, I'm having Zelda 1 deja-vu. Little spitting monsters and fireball-breathing lizards from the deep. I hated them in the first game, and I hate them now.

Oh it took me another try to kill that stomping knight room boss in the end by the way. I had to restart from the beginning of the dungeon (again) and go around refilling my arrows first, and I still only had 2 shots left over after winning.

Pay no attention to this average middle-aged man standing by this sign
Sorry game, but I think I'll do the opposite. I'll take a screenshot of him and put him on the internet, see how you like that.

Uh, what am I supposed to be doing now anyway? Oh right, when I returned to the elder he sent me back out to pick up a second pendant.

But first I'm gonna make a stop at the fairy room to get some free healing. Fairies are probably the only living thing in this game that aren't annoying or hostile.

Actually I take that back. Sure the townsfolk weren't very helpful when I was looking for the elder, but I've met way more irritating NPCs in other games.

Finally I've reached the entrance to the second pendant dungeon. But the instructions to get in are written in a language I can't read. So... I guess I go all the way back to chat with the elder then? Or maybe that fortune teller knows something.



LATER, BACK AT THE FORTUNE TELLER.


Well that's very helpful, thanks. I don't know if he's talking about the elder I'm working for, or the SECOND wise man I found on my way here, but either way it's useless info. The second wise guy sent me to search for a book, and I was hoping the fortune teller might know where to look.


LATER, AFTER (SUCCESSFULLY) SEARCHING EVERY HOUSE IN TOWN (AGAIN) FOR A BLOODY BOOK.


Well I made it into the dungeon, but I'm having puzzle problems. These three torches weren't lit when I came in here, so my immediate thought was 'they've got to be lit in a certain order'. But no matter what order I try, the door just won't open. Plus this laser turret isn't helping.

Oh right, turns out I was just supposed to push the correct block at the top of the screen. The torches must have been a red herring.

Shit shit shit, the floor's attacking me and I can't find the key! These evil tiles won't even give me one second to throw this jar and try looking under another one.


EVENTUALLY, AT THE END OF THE DUNGEON.


Second boss room's worse than the first one. This time I don't need arrows to kill these snake worm things, but I need to be very careful I'm not in their way of their dirt bullets they spray diagonally across the screen as they burst out of the ground.

I defeated them in the end, but it took a good few tries. And each time Link got killed I had to start from the beginning of the dungeon, then collect all my ammo again. I think I need a break from the game now after that. A good long break.


It's definitely a step up from Zelda 1 (and right past Zelda 2) but it still shares a few design choices that annoy me. Like having to restart dungeons from all the way back at the entrance whenever I get poor Link killed. The map is massively improved, but the game's still often a little vague about where I should be going next. Plus the 'low health' warning sound is really irritating. But c'mon, it's Link to the Past. I may be a miserable bastard, but even I realise it's not crap.

Zelda series (in order of earliest release date):
1986 - The Legend of Zelda (NES)
1987 - Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
1991 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
2002 - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Game Cube)

5 comments:

  1. Great game!
    I need to play it a again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the tag "princess rescue" should be used more often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's about time I had to rescue a prince. Or maybe got to play as a princess who has to go off rescuing heroic young villagers.

      Oh okay fine, I'll go through the games list and tag up anything that should have it. Eventually.

      Delete
  3. Maybe someone should do it for you, so that you can dedicate more of your precious time to pumping more reviews out...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Letting someone else do all the work does sound appealing, though unfortunately I've already gone and done it.

      Delete

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