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Looking back: The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past | SNES (1992) | GBA (2002) | Wii (2007)

As amazing and groundbreaking as the first Zelda is, A Link to the Past outperforms its trailblazing ancestor in every measurable way. It may have sold slightly less overall, but anyone with an eye for adventure should prefer this colossally improved sequel.

The legend: A younger, different Link is woken by a telepathic cry for help. The yelp came from Princess Zelda in Hyrule castle, which is being ravaged by the wizard Agahnim. After a daring midnight rescue, a quest to gather three magical pendants and a trip to reclaim the Master Sword, Link ultimately fails and Zelda is sent to the Dark World. Inside this drearily twisted realm lies Ganon, about to be released from a powerful seal seven sages laid upon him. Link rescues the sages, defeats Ganon and brings Zelda back to Hyrule.

Master swords: The boomerang makes its triumphant return, along with a spell book, a hammer, bombs and a duo of magic wands. Bigger still was the Hookshot, a grappling hook-like tool that let Link cross large gaps with ease. This is the first time you'll see the bug net and the shockingly useful bottles. Overshadowing all of these regular items was the addition of an entirely new map, the Dark World, which basically doubled the game's size. The first time you step into a portal and see what's become of the Sacred Realm is one of the most genuinely startling moments of the Zelda franchise. What was once green is now a dull brown, and even the simplest niceties have been erased from existence. You also realize that this already daunting quest has grown immensely larger.

On top of the whole dual world, light/dark motif, A Link to the Past basically rewrote the first Zelda in terms of gameplay. There were heart containers, hidden passages, dungeons with new items and all the other quirks that made the first game so great. But it was all supercharged, with multi-level dungeons and rich, detailed graphics that were nigh-unbelievable at the time. The overhead view was back too, a welcome return after the five year gap between it and the first Zelda. Basically, everything rocked your face, and then continued to rock said face for all eternity.

Best moment: You think the quest is about over when you stumble upon this disc. Then... a whole new world waits. Oh, and you're a pink bunny.

I AM ERROR: The three main spells, Bombos, Ether and Quake, aren't that useful or necessary outside of their initial castings. Yep, that's about the worst we could come up with. We'll go out on a limb and say seven extra dungeons in the Dark World makes this a lot longer, and therefore harder to dive back into than the first game, but really, that's seven more dungeons of awesome.

It's a secret to everyone: Entertainment Weekly called it the best game of all time in May of 2003 - Even though it's called A Link to the Past, Miyamoto himself has said that the first and second games take place before it - Its Japanese title is actually "Triforce of the Gods" - This is the first Zelda that let you whack chickens until they revolted - The GBA release added a multiplayer game called Four Swords, which would later blossom into its own title.

Hero of time? This game's as evolutionary as Ocarina of Time is revolutionary, so yes. Worldwide acclaim and millions of adoring fans agree that this could very well be the best Zelda of all time. We say it's easily the best traditional Zelda, and that obviously counts for something. 10/10

17 comments

  • thefreakysurgeon - August 27, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Let's all hope that Skyward Sword will kick so much ass that it'll be titled "Best Zelda Ever".
  • Gorlack312 - July 23, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    Yo Gamesradar, Imma let you finish, but Ocarina is the best Zelda game of all time. Of all time!! Though i am a bit biased, since OoT was my video game (started at age 4) and i still have memories of watching my brother play Ping Pong with Ganondorf. Oh, and thanks for giving Majora's Mask a 9/10, not many people are hardcore enough to play through it.
  • radishboy - May 30, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    I have always loved Wind Waker. Probably my favorite Zelda game ever. actually, one of my favorite games in general! I instantly loved the style of the game, and the cell shading. I'm very glad that they didn't do that stupid anti-aliasing affect where they put the black outlines around everything, which I see on a lot of other cell shaded games. (think the Dragon Ball Z games, or that P.O.S. FPS for PS2 "XII" (Thirteen.) I don't mind the black outlines if done correctly but they rarely are. they usually look bad due to technical issues, it looks like the outlines are jumping around the character, shaking or squiggling sort of? like those "squiggle vision" cartoons, where the all the lines/outlines are drawn in squiggly lines on purpose, so they wiggle and and jiggle and what not. (think "Home Movies," "Dr Katz," "Ed, Edd, and Eddie", etc...) anyways, I think Wind Waker is going to be one of those few games that are not only great, but will stand the test of time, pretty much forever. Even now, going back to play a PS1 game like Tomb Raider" is almost impossible, it looks and feels just so awful. But Wind Waker's style is timeless, it will always look, feel, and play great.
  • jwolf182 - November 5, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    I my opinion, The best Zelda games were Ocarina of time and majora's mask. hand down. Twilight Princess was a great game, but it just felt weird, i mean no Ocarina, no musical instrument? That's like history for Zelda. Wind Waker was a great game, but the cartooniness got old after awhile along with sailing. Idk i just didn't like twilight princess' going from wolf to Link, i just found that process stupid, and ganon turning into this giant boar thing? C'mon that's just stupid...
  • Nitemarish - October 9, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    Water Temple.
  • VGFreak1225 - November 30, 2008 4:36 a.m.

    I don't know, I don't hate Tingle that much, and the Tingle Tuner, while could have been a little more refined, was a nice addition and never necessary to finish TWW. Also, I'm still going to put OoT as greatest game ever. While Twilight Princess was obviously an improvement over OoT, it didn't innovate and there were more flaws that shouldn't have been there after eight years of opportunity to refine it. While I'll welcome both, to me, innovation is more important than inevitable refinement.
  • Digidabee - November 15, 2008 8:55 p.m.

    I agree Twilight Princess was the first one of the Zelda games i played right to the end although I had others before.
  • Christrigg1 - October 15, 2008 3:22 a.m.

    they shouls make a game where vaati finds the majoras mask, puts it on zelda, and then the real link must face her, who has all 3 peices of triforce as the second to last boss. the thirs to last would be fighting and sealing vaati. the last boos would be zelda using her magic to make there two of each triforce, since gannondorf had controll of all 3 and couldnt get it away from him. she did that so link would then fight gannon 1 on 1 with an awesome swordfight, and magic fight and thw whole 9. ending with a light arrow to the chest, and the master sword lodged in the forehead
  • skyguy343 - October 12, 2008 11:38 p.m.

    agreed, tingle is innocent but did Nessrox (also agreed) just say the Water Temple was good?
  • Nessrox - October 11, 2008 12:16 a.m.

    Good times.
  • BHT128 - October 9, 2008 3:06 a.m.

    Why does everyone hate Tingle so much? You dont have to love him or even like him, but I dont understand what he did to earn the loathing of an entire continent.
  • Danomeon - April 10, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I don't beleive it, you guys gave link to the past a 10 and ocarina of time a 9! Both were great games, but that may be the first person I have ever heard say anythign other than, "BEST GAME EVAR!"
  • shadowleon - April 2, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    on link's awakening did they steal the ball and chane from Mario or did Mario steal it from them
  • KatamariLovesSpock - May 17, 2009 5:18 p.m.

    I really like the artistic direction that Wind Waker took, considering cel-shading can't really go out of style or become obsolete considering it has been pretty much at It's peak since the GC and PS2. But I personally want a Zelda in which they use the cel-shaded art style but still make it a darker more adult Zelda. They could make it with an older link even... Just because it has a "cartoon" style doesn't mean it can't be more mature. Not only that but a more stylized Zelda (no offence to Twilight Princess, which was a great game but doesn't nearly have as much character.) may make it a more solid game in general. As Twilight Princess showed you don't have to have a blood-caked protagonist... So I think cel-shaded is a great direction to take but they need to make the creatures less disproportional and make an older Link. Maybe closer to the DBZ style of cel-shaded games, those look great and, although DBZ tone may be very "YAAAAAAAAAARGH IMMA CHARGIN' MAH LAZURZ, I SCREAM TO POWER UP!!!!111ONE11!ELEVEN!1!!!" It still shows how a more adult cel-shaded Zelda is possible.
  • BodyDamage - February 19, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    I just watched the video on page 7 when the moon falls and noticed it bears a very striking resemblance to when *spoiler* meteor falls on midgar at the end of FF7.
  • Mr.Epic64 - February 16, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    Whats with the skin coloured teeth in Awekening? WTF!?
  • wolyfox - January 17, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    i mostly like fire temple and twilight princess the spider boss

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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