The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the past
What a year this is going to be for Zelda fans. On May 2nd, only a few weeks away, we'll have The Wind Waker arriving on the GameCube. Whilst this title has had a lot of attention it must not be forgotten that Nintendo have bought what is arguably one of the finest games of all time to the GBA. The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the past was a phenomenal success on the SNES. It was the first Zelda game where everything fell into place. Of course it's debatable as to whether or not it's the greatest Legend of Zelda of all time because of the equally phenomenal Ocarina of Time, but there can be no doubting the excellence of this title and as we shall see, it hasn't aged a bit.
The story in A Link to the past goes something like this. Aeons ago the forces of good, the deities of power, courage and wisdom entered the world of chaos, where all the game events happen, and left behind a symbol of their strength, the Triforce, which they left in the Golden Land. Years later a pathway from Hyrule to the Golden Land is discovered and many set off for the Golden Land to seek for treasure. Alarm bells begin to ring when it's discovered that nobody is returning from the Golden Land. In an attempt to prevent any more disappearances the King of Hyrule assembled seven sages to construct a seal that would block the entrance to Golden Land. Instantly peace returns to Hyrule. However, after the appearance of a sorcerer named Agahnim, strange things begin to happen. One night, whilst in bed asleep, Link is awakened by a girl's voice. The voice is crying for help and informs link that she is locked in the castle dungeon. Link leaves the house and sets off to rescue her.
It's a testament to how good the Game Boy Advance is that this game is identical, in every way, to the one that graced the SNES console back in the nineties. It looks and plays as good as it ever did. One extra addition this time around is the 2-4-multiplayer adventure entitled Four Swords. The Four Swords looks tremendous fun. We say looks because we were not able to play the game as it requires a copy of the game for each player. This is a shame as it means that far fewer gamers are going to experience this than if it had worked on a single pak multiplayer option. Still if you have friends who have the game and a GBA then you're in for some fun. For those who don't have friends who own a copy of the game then it's off limits as you can't play the game in single player mode.
Just what makes A Link to the past so good then? Well it has to be the fact that the gameplay is really something special. The dungeons are beautifully designed and still out class most of those found in modern games. The items that you can find (and use) are brilliant and slightly affect how you'll play the game. Items such as the Pegasus Shoes and the Moon Pearl really give the game a special feeling. To some degree they also add replay value as if you didn't get a certain item on your first play through the game, you'll want to replay the game again just to collect the item. The nature of Link's weapons also adds to the fun. My favourite was the boomerang, as it's not the kind of item you usually get to use in a game, and although it wasn't that effective it was still fun to use.
One of the nice things about GBA games is that there are virtually no problems for deaf gamers because the games rely on text to display all the information. This is true for A Link to the past. There are some noises that are given when you unlock something or find something but these are accompanied by visual clues for the most part such as when Link collects something from a chest. The game is wonderfully deaf gamer friendly and this is a blessing because it's sure to be one of the best GBA games of all time.
My first experience of The Legend of Zelda series was Ocarina of Time and I wasn't expecting A Link to the past to be anywhere near as good. However it's every bit as good. A Link to The Past has a quicker pace to it and becomes dramatic almost from the very start whilst Ocarina of Time took time to pick up the pace. It has the same respawning enemies that Ocarina has too which will probably irritate some gamers but when compared to the random battles that occur in Golden Sun (which really do begin to grate after a while) the Zelda games seem far agreeable. Ultimately it's the best game on the GBA at the moment but it's a pity that you can't enjoy the Four Swords without having at least one friend who also owns the game.
Game Rating: 9.5/10