The Legend of Zelda series has always been in a sketchy state of continuity. Piecing together the timeline was an impossible feat; even with the release of an official chronology by Nintendo themselves. This means that every addition to the Zelda series stands to throw everything into chaos. Thankfully, A Link Between Worlds does not fall into the chaos, with it being a near direct sequel to A Link to the Past. A Link Between Worlds will not only be a chronological sequel, but it will also maintain many features from its predecessor including graphical styles, the same overworld, and many of the game’s themes.
At this time, little has been revealed in regards to the story of A Link Between Worlds. There were 2 demos playable at E3, both of which contained no context to the title’s story. What we do know is that Link will be returning to the same Hyrule from A Link to the Past and that the Dark World is somehow involved. This fact alone sets the stage for an interesting plot twist as Link’s wish at the end of A Link to the Past destroyed the Dark World. The overworld, as previously stated, is almost identical to the one in A Link to the Past. Many of the dungeons are in the same place and so are other notable landmarks such as Hyrule Castle and Link’s house.
The E3 demo that I played took me into the game’s first dungeon. While it is in the same location from A Link to the Past, the dungeon itself was far from the same. Minor details like this really help to differentiate this game from its prequel. In addition to these minor details, I noticed some new gameplay elements that really make A Link Between Worlds stand out. Movement is faster and smoother than before. More notably, there are a lot of changes to item functionality. In a move that is reminiscent of Skyward Sword, an energy meter is present. This meter will slowly drain as items are used. The meter will replenish on its own, but as soon as Link uses part of his gear, it will begin to deplete.
Perhaps the most notable addition to the game is Link’s new ability to press himself onto and walk on walls. This ability allows Link to reach faraway treasures on a ledge by simply going onto the wall and walking on over. The demo was filled with opportunities to try out this new ability, many of which were very unique and creative. It should be noted that this ability will also drain your energy, so be careful.
A Link Between Worlds does a great job at capturing the beauty and simplicity of A Link to the Past, while updating the models and graphics. The game may not be the best looking game on the market, but its classical level of appeal will bring a smile to all who grew up on its predecessor. Like most 3DS games, the 3D effects can be nice at times, but does little to add value to the game.
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is an amazing throwback to one of the franchise’s best titles. With this said, A Link Between Worlds offers a ton of new gameplay features that manages to keep the series feeling fresh and new. The game launches this November and should be on the must-buy list of every Zelda fan.