The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Super Nintendo) Second Opinion Review

By Renan Fontes 02.03.2016 5

Review for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Super Nintendo

While both a critical and commercial success, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link left fans of the original wanting more. Gone was the open-ended world of the NES classic, instead replaced with a side-scrolling pseudo-RPG. Releasing at a time where Nintendo was known for playing around with its sequels, it was unknown whether or not the third instalment in the Zelda franchise would follow the first or the second game. Come 1991, however, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came out in full force, improving upon every aspect of the original. Lauded as a masterpiece upon its release, the question begs to be asked: does A Link to the Past still hold up 25 years later?

Breaking away from the tradition of starting with Link in an open environment and putting emphasis on immediate exploration, A Link to the Past opts to begin with a more plot heavy and subdued introduction. Princess Zelda calls out to a sleeping Link on a stormy night, asking for rescue, prompting the lad in green to head out to Hyrule Castle. What follows is a tense opening that sets a completely different atmosphere from the previous two instalments.

While not as narrative focused as the typical SNES RPG, A Link to the Past is a very story heavy game in comparison to The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link. Each dungeon provides context for Link's being there and there's an emphasis on interacting with NPCs to learn about the lore of the world. What makes this shift work, however, is how well it's balanced into the main game. The story never dominates the core gameplay, and instances of dialogue are done in a short and sweet manner, giving control to Link as much as possible. There's certainly more guidance, but it never becomes intrusive, only adding to the experience and creating a richer world full of life.

In addition to more fluidity in the story, there's more fluidity in the general gameplay, as well. Link is able to move in eight directions now, allowing Hyrule to hide more elaborate secrets and for combat to feel more engaging. With his newfound freedom, he can also slash in eight directions. Combat isn't necessarily difficult, but the added element of multiple directions adds an amount of depth that was sorely missing from the previous two games.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Super Nintendo

It's not just Hyrule and combat that benefit from the new, free-flowing movement; dungeons do, too. Where The Legend of Zelda's were grid-based and Zelda II's were vertical and branched off horizontally, A Link to the Past's dungeons are dynamic, with no decipherable patterns. These labyrinths are bursting with creativity not just from a design standpoint, making full use of multiple floors and changing room layouts, but also from a thematic standpoint. Dungeons in the previous entries were very similar due to the limitations of the NES, but the SNES allows for more complex designs. Link's journey takes him through an entire town made up of thieves, a palace encased in ice, a sprawling tower that challenges perception, and much more.

To accompany Link on his quest is an arsenal of elaborate weapons that serve major purposes in and out of dungeons. Building on the concept of getting items from dungeons in the first game, A Link to the Past incorporates them in major puzzles in each dungeon. This is nothing short of brilliant, allowing each item to have immediate value and leave a lasting impression.

What makes this journey leave such a mark is not just its sheer quality, but also its innovation. Nintendo took no shortcuts in making a fully-fledged sequel that not only emulated the sense of adventure the NES classic provided, but also pushed the series, the genre, and video games, in general, forward, setting a golden standard to be met.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Two-and-a-half decades later, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past still stands as a prime example of how to make a proper sequel. The sheer strength the SNES has over the NES allows for more creative dungeons than ever before, and a combat system with genuine depth and thought put into it. Along with a great set of unique items and a massive world to explore, A Link to the Past manages to capture a feeling of adventure sorely missing from games. It not just improves on every aspect from the original The Legend of Zelda, it innovates and paves the way for the future of the franchise, and adventure games, in general.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (19 Votes)

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The legend of Zelda review are always my favourite 

( Edited 13.07.2017 18:27 by Guest )

Never liked Link to the Past. Just never really enjoyed 2D Zelda's in general, the games have always worked much better in 3D, in my opinion. Had some music I really loved though, like the original Lost Woods music!

( Edited 13.07.2017 18:27 by Guest )

I absolutely adore this one, although it has one major flaw:
The hand-holding quest marker-like numbering of the dungeons on your map, when one of the biggest strengths of the series is to explore and discover on your own.

( Edited 13.07.2017 18:27 by Guest )

Can't a fella drink in peace?

One of the first games I played and grew up on. Special, special game for me.

It's an interesting suggestion you make, Ofisil. I'd have really liked to see how no hints on the map at all would have worked out for this. I know I spent hours and hours literally exploring as a kid anyway, so I think I would have naturally found each dungeon through sheer persistence alone.

Really is credit to Nintendo how good this game still is. Some games just don't lose it. The high praise for these classic Zeldas today doesn't surprise me.

Lost Woods theme is one of my fave Zelda tunes, Marzy. Always wished it would appear in a 3D Zelda, but was glad it returned in ALBW.

( Edited 13.07.2017 18:27 by Guest )

The only Zelda I ever completed. I tried playing the 3D ones but they just felt like rehashes of the ideas in this wonderful game.

( Edited 13.07.2017 18:27 by Guest )

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