The Legend of Zelda has long been favorable series for me, and I've especially been fond of the handheld titles. Actually, the very first Zelda game I ever completed was Links Awakening DX for the Gameboy Color, and if that game didn't set the bar high for expectations then I don't know what would. So how exactly is A Link Between Worlds fairing for me so far? Read along and you'll find out!
A couple things you should know about my Zelda background. I absolutely loved Link's Awakening. I also enjoyed Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, which my buddy and I swapped back in the day so that we could complete the whole story (very cool experience btw). That being said, this game serves as 'sequel' (in some ways) to A Link to the Past, which I have never beaten. I'm very familiar with the game itself, including music and the general storyline. That being said, this game oozes with nostalgia and charisma from the old Snes classic, and fuses in elements of more modern Zelda titles to help create a very fun, engrossing and overall enjoyable experience even for newcomers to the series. The game can very much be played by it's own merits, and I really admire that Nintendo has made that possible.
From the very start, you're immersed into a scenario very similar to A Link to the Past, where Link is lazily sleeping in (as has been the case in many games). From there on, you're out and about, and the plot immediately dives into action. I'm going to try my best NOT to give out any big spoilers here, but just know that if you are familiar with A Link to the Past at all, then you'll be familiar with your surroundings immediately. One thing I can definitely say about A Link Between Worlds is that it is visually impressive. The game looks stunning, and at 60fps plays as smooth as a hot knife through butter. There is a fine balance between 3D visuals and the traditional downward view that gives this game a fine aesthetic presentation. It can really only be justified by seeing it for yourself in action, so don't pass judgement based on blown up images online.
See this guy ^ he's a dick. Not only that, but he's a bit of a pushover. Again, I don't want to give any spoilers, but you'll quickly learn to dislike him. His name is Yuga, and he will serve as one of the leading antagonist in this story. His theme music is strangely likable though - I actually grew to enjoy my encounters with the creepy clown just to hear it. Those of you who are familiar with Ganondorf will notice that he has somewhat of a similar resemblance, but of course there are reasons for that. One big premise of this game is that there are two different worlds with characters of similar, yet different backgrounds. Hyrule is of course the land we all know and love, however you'll come to discover Lorule (little cliche, but oh well), which is Hyrule's virtual opposite in many ways. I've enjoyed exploring both worlds in their own merits, and I think that the balance between exploration in both worlds is divided up very well. Did I mention that the remix music for Lorules domain is also very catchy? If you enjoyed your trips to the Dark World in A Link to the Past, then you'll enjoy Lorule just as much.
This game actually carries resemblance to Ocarina of Time as well. The 7 sages play a large role in this story, and I think that most fans of the series will enjoy seeing how their roles affect the overall game. I can appreciate that there are many ideas 'borrowed' from previous titles to help sculpt this game, and while it might come across to some gamers as 'lazy' it has all been crafted and intertwined into an all new story so well that it really doesn't bother me in the least bit.
Ah Ravio....the peddling rabbit man. Ravio is the merchant character in this game that will rent/sell you ALL of your necessary equipment right away, isn't that nifty? Bombs, Staffs, Bows, Boomerangs, you name it, he has it! You can rent all of your equipment, and keep it so long as you can stay alive. Want to keep it for good? It will cost you a pretty penny, but you may purchase all of these items from him is you so choose. I've yet to beat the game, so I myself am not aware of what all secrets this character has in store for us, but I know it will be interesting to see just how he intertwines with the plot. For now, all you need to know is that he basically steals your house and turns it into his shop, seems like the right neighborly thing to do, right? **minor spoiler alert** it should go on the record that I'm VERY curious as to why Majora's Mask lays creepishly on your wall from the moment the game starts. For some reason, I have the gut feeling telling me that Ravio may have something to do with it later on. RANDOM hunch.
So far, I'm VERY pleased with this handheld Zelda game. This is the kind of handheld title Zelda fans have been waiting for, and I've yet to feel disappointment in the slightest bit! I've still much work left ahead of me before I beat this title, but I'm as hooked on a Zelda game as I've been in a very, VERY long time. Chris and Jim may not have exactly 'loved' this title, but I honestly think any other fan of the series would. Forget about how frustrating Phantom Hour Glass or Spirit Tracks were, A Link Between Worlds seems to be exactly what the medicine witch ordered (get it? No? Well damn).