So, here we are again with another incarnation of Link saving Hyrule from the clutches of evil. This time round our villain is Yuga, a vain sorcerer attempting to revive Ganon. Heís a bit like Dr Steinman from Bioshock, completely obsessed with the notion of beauty, only instead of trying to hack people up he turns them into paintings instead. At the beginning of the game, Link confronts him and appears to suffer from the same fate, however it soon transpires that Link can turn into a painting at will and he uses this newfound ability to move between the worlds of Hyrule and Lorule.†
This is the first Zelda handheld Iíve played through to the end (I still havenít finished Spirit Tracks) plus I havenít played A Link to the Past so this game seems fresh and exciting to me. †Youíre dropped into Hyrule without a word and are free to explore, which Iíve never experienced from the previous Zelda titles Iíve played. Thereís no hand-holding. I had actually done most of the Eastern Palace before realising that I didnít have a shield, went outside to save, then went off in search of one before returning to complete the dungeon.
The game is presented in a top-down view, the camera shifting to a profile view whenever Link enters the wall and becomes a painting. Most of the items and weapons can be rented from the beginning of the game. However, in order to be able to upgrade them, you need to buy them first.†
Thankfully, Link isnít lumbered with a prattling sidekick like Fi. †Instead we get a weathervane that wonít shut up about taking a break because youíve been playing too long. In a game that tries to encourage the player to explore Hyrule and Lorule with minimal exposition, this is an unwelcome intrusion. It detracts from an otherwise immersive world.
Most of the dungeons can be completed in any order. †Unfortunately, I think because of this the difficulty of each dungeon appears to have been kept at a similar level. Personally, I only had issues with trying to work out how to get to the next dungeon and navigating the Ice Palace. I have not played Hero Mode yet, but the only change is that enemies do quadruple damage. On the whole I think the puzzles were cleverly designed and each dungeon varied so it never got stale.
The side-quests were also enjoyable, such as finding all the baby maiamais for their mother. †For every ten babies you find, she will upgrade an item that youíve bought. †Other items, such as tunics are smartly hidden. There are also lots of references to previous Zelda games.
Overall, I enjoyed exploring the worlds of Hyule and Lorule. The kingdoms look and feel different: Hyrule is colourful and sunny compared with the dark and gloomy Lorule. Itís jarring to see a vast chasm in Lorule where rolling hills and trees used to be back in Hyrule. †I also liked exploring their counterparts Ė for example the Sanctuary in Hyrule containing a priest is a cave with a philosopher in Lorule. †
I would definitely recommend playing A Link Between Worlds. I loved every minute of it and Iíve never even played A Link to the Past. †Nintendo have tried to change the usual set up of Zelda games and it still works. I really hope they incorporate these features into future titles.†eís sword did have an inverted triforce on itÖ