The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review: The Triforce is strong with this one
Wow. That's the most fitting word to describe the greatness of Link's newest adventures, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It's one of those games that you buy a game system for, and it adds to the already strong library of games for the Nintendo 3DS. A Link Between Worlds is, in its most basic form, one of the most polished, innovative and fun adventure games I've ever played. Nintendo unapologetically takes one of everyone's favorite Zelda games -- A Link to the Past -- and tweaks every aspect of it.
A Link Between Worlds takes place in the same Hyrule that you know from A Link to the Past -- but a much prettier looking one. Link's adventure involves a villainous wizard, Yuga, that's turning people into paintings and wanting to return Hyrule to the darkness he loves. After defeating Link, Yuga turns him into a painting, but a bracelet given to Link by one of the game's new characters saves him and grants him the ability to transform into a painting whenever Link wants.
Enter the game's new puzzle mechanic. The ability to turn into a painting in order to navigate Link to treasure or across dungeons is not just a gimmick -- it is well-implemented and works wonderfully. To get to some of the most challenging treasures in the game, you'll have to plot out where to go, how to get to certain walls, and when to turn into a painting. There's more strategy to the mechanic than just that. Using weapons other than the sword take from the same resource pool that dwindles down when you're a painting. The painting mechanic really shines once you're in Lorule, Hyrule's dark, inter-dimensional twin city, which has plenty of puzzles to solve.
A Link Between Worlds has some of the most gorgeous graphics that can be found on the 3DS. It's one of the few games that I want to play with the 3D slider switch on, and the framerate is so smooth. The visuals are a blend of retro-style graphics and a modern 3D game, and it uses a top-down view that looks very familiar, yet remarkably fresh. Not enough can be said about the love and care that went into this remodeling of Hyrule.
Combat has also been tweaked. Due to a certain person that has taken up residence in Link's house -- a resident that would find himself fitting in perfectly with the cast from Rent -- A Link Between Worlds employs a system where you rent items and equipment. In one sense, it's great that you can have every item from the beginning, which really opens up the map to go wherever you want, but in another sense, you can dump a ton of rupees into the system. Every time you die, that little freeloader comes in and swoops up all of the items you rented, so you'll have to travel back to the town, INTO YOUR HOUSE, to visit his shop and rent the items you want again.
Luckily, travel is made easy by the inclusion of a witch that picks you up on her broom and brings you to weather vanes whenever you ring a bell. It makes traveling for more convenient and less time consuming than having to run and swim everywhere. All of these changes lead to a game that doesn't hold your hand at all. There's no long, overdone tutorial. It gives you some items and a general direction, and it sends you on your way. You can go anywhere -- Hyrule is yours to explore. Tackle areas you want to tackle in whatever order you want. The storyline follows a certain path, but you aren't forced to do that the whole time. Look for treasures and overcome dungeons filled with puzzles, each with unique requirements.
One other feature that I'd be remiss to not mention is battling other players' Shadow Links that you Streetpass. You play an AI-controlled version of that Link, equipped with the items and weapons that the Streetpassed person chose. You'll find them throughout Hyrule, and you battle them for bounties with a reward of rupees. There's not punishment for losing, and only money to be gained. It's a fun little battle system that I do whenever I come across a Shadow Link. I just never win, because I suck.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds shot its way up to my favorite game on the 3DS. Heck, it's my favorite Zelda game, tied with Ocarina of Time. It's an amazing adventure game, not afraid to tweak things from one of the most beloved video games of all-time, and it begs for you to explore the gorgeous land of Hyrule. A Link Between Worlds is reason enough to own a 3DS, and it's one of those games that will stay with you, becoming a standard for other video games to live up to.