The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Hands-On) (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Az Elias 29.06.2013 6

Review for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds' announcement came as somewhat of a surprise, not least for being a new classic top-down Zelda game that we haven't had for many years, but also for the fact it is a sequel to one of the strongest entries in the series - A Link to the Past. Nintendo is clearly taking the game very seriously, however, as this is being developed internally with series producer Eiji Aonuma at the helm, rather than being handed off to another team like Grezzo, who worked on Ocarina of Time 3D. Read on for Cubed3's thoughts of a small section of the game that was playable at Nintendo's post-E3 event in London.

Two parts of the game were playable in this demo: a portion of the overworld to run around in, and the very first dungeon. It was possible to simply run to the dungeon itself by starting out in the field, but since both parts were on a time limit, it was better to start at the dungeon from scratch by choosing it from the menu.

Jumping into the overworld to begin with plants Link outside of his familiar-looking house, directly in the centre of the map. The overworld in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is identical to the one in the SNES game A Link to the Past, so right from the get-go the anticipation was there to dash around as much of the map as possible just to see how similar (or different) it was to the original. Link's house couldn't be entered, and there was a lot of the field that was blocked off for the demo, but returning to Hyrule created a huge nostalgic buzz. The world was colourful and vibrant, topped off with a beautiful orchestrated rendition of the Zelda overworld theme. Being back in this magical location was a joy, and a lot of fans of A Link to the Past are going to get a real kick out of this.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Link can defend himself with his shield by holding the R button down, attack with his sword with the B button (which also fires beams of energy at full health), and also assign items to the X and Y buttons. Available weapons in the demo included bombs, a bow, the fire rod and the hammer. The fire rod was notably the most different from its ALttP version, since this one threw up a huge blast of fire into the air, which could knock Link to the floor if he walked into it. Also changed from the SNES game, arrows and bombs now use the magic meter instead of having a finite amount of each, although the bar automatically replenishes itself after a short time of not being in use.

After defeating many familiar enemies, such as soldiers, Octoroks, Tektites and Buzz Blobs (which didn't electrocute Link when struck with the sword, like they used to in ALttP), it was into the Eastern Palace dungeon. It was somewhat strange to walk into this dungeon and see Terrorpin enemies and blocks that needed to be whacked with the hammer to progress, but this is clearly where A Link Between Worlds is going to be completely different to its prequel - the dungeons are brand new.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

It was in this dungeon, also, that Link's new special ability is put to the most effective use. By walking up to a wall and with the press of the A button, Link can turn into a drawing of himself and appear on the wall he was next to. The camera angle shifts to accommodate this new perspective and he can then be moved either left or right to shuffle along the wall. The catch is that this drains the magic meter a lot quicker than any items do, so players have a limited time to move along to where they want to go and spring out of the wall again. The idea is that Link gets to reach platforms and parts of the dungeon that he otherwise would not be able to get to by using this new ability, and allows for some interesting puzzle concepts. The great thing was that it didn't seem out of place in context with the rest of the game at all - it is a seamless action and hopefully Nintendo will be creative with what can be done with it.

A lot of fans that have seen trailers for this title will be looking forward to how the 3D effect is used, and it definitely works wonderfully, offering a lot of depth in this top-down perspective. Particularly eye-catching is Link jumping up and almost out of the screen when he is launched into the air to the floors above by springboard-like blocks that must be activated by first whacking them into the floor with the hammer, then standing on top of them. With floors being visible through the holes and gaps below, the 3D really stands out, and with any luck, it will be a much-needed feature for other areas of the game to bring it to life.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Despite there being a total of 12 floors to conquer in this first level, it wasn't a large dungeon by any means, and although the drawing ability was used on a number of occasions to slide through thin gaps and cling to moving platforms, it was a relatively simple affair to reach the top and tackle the again-familiar boss Moldorm. This stage acted as a training grounds of sorts to get used to the drawing ability and the types of puzzles that will be on offer, but there will definitely need to be a lot of all-new ideas thrown into the mix to appease those that have smashed through A Link to the Past multiple times.


Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Final Thoughts

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds will be a glorious trip down memory lane for a lot of series fans, and the first impressions are very positive. This is traditional classic Zelda, and there shouldn't be any reason why this won't end up another great entry. It remains to be seen just how much out-of-dungeon interactivity there will be, since the original A Link to the Past overworld wasn't as centred on NPCs and side-quests as in other Zelda games that came after it, but all eyes will be on the dungeons and just how different they will be to offer enough challenge and variety for those that grew up on the SNES prequel.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (10 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop


Oh my flop this game is going to be awesome.

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It surprised me greatly, I was wary about it at first, even skipping it to try other Wii U games. Then came down to it and I was instantly hooked. The cling to walls effect, known as merge, is really really game changing. Fluid, nostalgic, great!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I wish I could be excited for this game but I simply can't bring myself to, not based on what has been shown so far. The gameplay looks really solid and incredibly smooth in the C3 Plays video but some things that greatly contribute to the Zelda experience like story scenes, NPCs to talk to and do sidequests for or original music are all still completely missing. It just creates a distinct lack of personality for me.

On top of that, I don't like the top-down approach as much and don't have a lot of nostalgia for A Link to the Past. I'm happy that fans who've been wishing for a classic Zelda got their wish granted, I'm just sad I can't seem to get excited for it as well. Maybe the third trailer will be the one I'm looking for...

brett (guest) 30.06.2013#4

It looks okay. I love ALTTP but I was hoping for something new that would utilize the 3ds well. Top down games were good for their time, but it's difficult to become emersed in them now because there's no good reason why they couldn't have fleshed the game out and really utilized the 3d effect.

It'd be cool if they done it like Animal Crossing 3ds. At least then it would felt more new, even if it was the same world we've all explored to death.

Ganons (guest) 01.07.2013#5

Day one!

Stirling (guest) 01.07.2013#6

Borinh! Stuck in the 90s game.

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