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REVIEW | “A Link Between Worlds” Gives Us the Best of Old and New

Posted on December 7, 2013 AT 12:31pm

After releasing an amazing re-skinned version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 3DS, it was time for Nintendo to decide what to do next. On the one hand, they would really not like to start a reputation of only re-releasing their old games, but on the other The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the best games ever made. In an effort to have their cake and eat it too, they ended up choosing both options and going with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds as their next project. Shockingly, they were wildly successful at creating a brand new game, that feels new in a number of ways, that is at the same time very much A Link to the Past in nature.

In several other games in the Zelda franchise, before the release of the official timeline in the great coffee table book Hyrule Historia, Nintendo often liked to drop hints here and there that maybe you’re visiting a location from one of the older games. It was exciting when this happened, but a much bolder move that they went with this time around was to literally drop you back in the same overworld after a great deal of time has passed for its inhabitants. The only other time Nintendo has done this, to this scale at least, was in Pokémon Gold/Silver when you revisit the Kanto region of the first game after conquering the new Johto region. Seeing familiar faces and revisiting some of your favorite locations from before is fun and nostalgic. That being said, while the layout is very similar to the Link to the Past overworld you might be familiar with, this is a brand new game.

Each new Zelda game has that one mechanic they like really to show off throughout the course of the adventure. This time around, Link has the ability to attach himself to almost any wall as a painting and move along it. This mechanic actually goes quite a long way throughout the course of the game and they still find new ways to use it in each dungeon.

The thing that has most people buzzing about this game though, is certainly the item rental system. The way it works is that a man in a bunny hood named Ravio moves into your house early in the game. Link would have stopped him, but he was having a hard time trying to think of what to say. He does at least make himself useful while squatting in your home by offering several of the familiar items you would normally find in the dungeons of a Zelda game for rent. Since the game has a very high rupee cap and cash is decently easy to come by, you can basically rent nearly every item fairly early in the game. Beware though, because if you die while holding a rented item, it gets repossessed by Ravio’s bird friend.

I initially had second thoughts about this mechanic, but it didn’t take long for me to come around and love it. Areas of the map and secrets to find that would normally be gated are wide open which lets you explore as much as you want. Specific items are used for dungeons, but it is very clearly indicated which you’ll need at the entrance of each dungeon and with a fast-travel mechanic built in, it’s pretty easy to go grab the one you need without much fuss. If you grow really attached to a particular item, I can’t live without bombs, you can opt to purchase instead of rent, but the price goes way up. The bright side of that is a purchased item stays with you when you die.

I would’ve like to see a little more variety in the required items for each dungeon, each dungeon still utilizes only one item at a time, but the level design is still spot on. The game is not afraid of giving you a second to try and figure something out and is definitely willing to kill you if approach it carelessly. The Street Pass functionality is a lot of fun, you choose items and send your link over to another 3DS to do battle with them as Shadow Link. My two issues with this so far have been that the Shadow Links don’t appear as often as I thought they might, which could get better over time, and if they can implement this why not do a full fledged online/local multiplayer mode.

The story is your typical Zelda fare, the princess gets captured and now you need to go rescue her, but what it lacks in significant depth it makes up for in approachability. Sometimes it’s easy for a game to want to explain everything to you in great detail, while you mainly just want to play the game. A Link Between Worlds does a great job of offering up the story, but not bogging you down with it if that’s not why you’re here.


  • Excellently executed nostalgia, while still making it feel new.
  • New item system is an inspired change I imagine we’ll be seeing again soon.
  • Music includes amazing remixes and equally impressive new tracks.


  • Would’ve liked to see multiple required items per dungeon.
  • No multiplayer offered, even though Street Pass content makes such a strong argument for it.


This is probably one of the best games in The Legend of Zelda for quite a while and is worth getting a 3DS to play if you don’t already have one. If the pure uncut nostalgia isn’t enough to draw you in, then let me assure you that this would’ve been an equally amazing game had A Link to the Past never existed. The level design is fun and the environments are immersive. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

Final Score: 9.8 (out of ten)

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