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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past review
Exceptional
by Owen Helfer

Fantastic. Just a thoroughly enjoyable game, start to finish. Link to the Past takes everything that made the first Zelda great and amplifies it. The biggest improvement is in the exploration aspect of the game, where I believe the jump to 16 bits is the most important. The first game's map was incredibly same-y, due to the graphical limitations of the NES. This led to exploration that felt fairly arbitrary, like burning one bush that looks exactly the same as every other one. This installment is able to add more nuance to map design in order to make clearer yet still emergent exploratory gameplay. As someone who is often annoyed by dungeons, I found this game's iterations to be nothing but enjoyable. The game rewarded you for finding your own pathways to the end, and the bosses were difficult yet balanced. My only complaint is that the items feel very hit-or-miss, with some greats like the hookshot, and other lame rewards like the staff that creates blocks (lol ok?). I think this is the first Zelda that stands up even by modern standards, almost 30 years later. 

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The Legend of Zelda is one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time and most of the things I love about the series was either started in this game, or taken from the NES-Original and refined.
It's basically the Zelda formula distilled to its finest points. 

While later games had cool gimmicks, better characters, bigger worlds, more intriguing stories, I still find myself coming back to this one the most when what I crave is just good gameplay and dungeon design.
It is also my #1 favorite game to randomize, though this is getting into modding territory which I don't think I should give the base game full credit for.

I guess my biggest issue with the game would be the fact that there isn't unique music for every dungeon. But that's honestly about where my criticism ends.
It's great!
«Time-tested»
«Beaten more than once»