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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Fortunately Zelda's given me a telepathic mission update so at least I know where I'm going.
A SHORT WALK THROUGH THE FOREST LATER.
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?
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.
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.
Uh, please excuse the crudity of this model.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh well, I might as tell take 10 bombs while I'm here. You never know when you might need a bomb.
ONE MEETING WITH THE ELDER LATER.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LATER, BACK AT THE FORTUNE TELLER.
LATER, AFTER (SUCCESSFULLY) SEARCHING EVERY HOUSE IN TOWN (AGAIN) FOR A BLOODY BOOK.
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.
EVENTUALLY, AT THE END OF THE DUNGEON.
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)