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

in Hive Gaming4 months ago

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My first Zelda game, and still one of my favorites to this day. As is the case with a lot of these early Zelda games, we don't have a whole lot of story to discuss here. Evil Wizard kidnaps a bunch of maidens to revive Gannon, save Maidens and defeat Gannon. You don't start getting more in-depth plots and stories until Ocarina, so from here on out I'm not even going to bother with any kind of story discussion, this is going to be purely gameplay and visuals.

Link to the Past is a top-down action game. One thing I want to point out is how meticulously the entire game is designed. Link is left-handed, so also has a shield in the right hand. The world is designed with this in mind, since the sword doesn't attack directly forward, it does have a swinging motion. When charging for a full circle swing to hit everything around you, your shield moves to one side, so the area that it blocks changes as well. Since some enemies also have shields or weapons that will deflect strikes, this all makes positioning yourself very important and makes the environments around you very important to take into account.

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Another big thing to know about the game is you have to explore the world to beat it. There are several items you need to beat the game that is not found in dungeons, but scattered around the world for you to find. Early on you start to get the idea that things are hidden all over the world, so the game does a great job at incentivizing you to explore even though it never actually tells you it's something you will need to do. It's a great example of naturally showing a player what to expect from the game without having to explain it all to you in clunky exposition or dialogue, it's all understood well through good game design.

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Getting past the over-world exploration, the actual dungeons are a lot of fun. Zelda is known for having a lot of really great puzzle dungeons. Nothing here gets overly complicated, but every dungeon is full of a lot of interesting enemies and puzzles to keep you thinking from beginning to end. There do exist a couple of bosses that are frustrating for the wrong reasons though, specifically the one that can knock you into a hole and drop you down a floor, forcing you to restart the entire boss fight. It's not even a hard fight, it's just mildly annoying.

The thing is though, beyond a couple of really minor gripes like that this is a game I can't find a flaw with. There isn't a big focus on the story, so the game only gives you small bits of info here and there to keep you somewhat invested without wasting much of your time on it, which is what you should do in a game like this. There are very few flaws, and I'm kind of sitting here having to say Link to the Past is close to being a perfect game on paper. There are a few Zelda games I like more than it, but it's just an overall great experience beginning to end. A short review, yes, but it's a game I highly recommend to just about anyone.

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One of the all time greats. I played it again not to long ago on the Nintendo Switch SNES Emulator. Had a great time!