A young man dressed in green. Pointy ears like a leprechaun. A mighty sword hung from his back. And the weight of a world on his shoulders. Those of us who have played Legend of Zelda video games on various Nintendo consoles have been fans of the series since we first played the game. It’s a love beyond definition for die-hard Zelda fans. Is it the music that gets into your mind and plays over and over for no reason? The pioneering game that introduced us all to the underground mazes where monsters and creatures stalked and haunted us for days and days? Or is it the classic story of encouraging good to triumph over evil and the boy to save his girl? Whatever the reason, Zelda fans are hooked, and have been since 1987.
The third installment in the Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, was a groundbreaking game in its own right. Released in 1991 in Japan and 1992 in the United States, the game returned to the top-down view of the game familiar to players of the original Legend of Zelda. The NES sequel, Link’s Awakening, used a side scrolling game familiar to fans of the Super Mario Bros. series and most other NES games. This allowed the player to see everything around them within the screen before moving on to the next one. The game moved along a type of grid, where you played in a square, and when you moved to the edge to go to a different area, Link moved to another square.
Another new addition to the Zelda franchise was the addition of another world parallel to the real world that Link lives in. Link is able to move back and forth between the World of Light and the Dark World, which used to be the Holy Realm before evil entered. However, players are greeted with Link’s sight as a pink rabbit if they attempt to enter the Dark World before obtaining the Moon Pearl. Depending on where the player tried to cross between the worlds, it determined where they would appear in the opposite world, often unlocking different secrets that were otherwise unattainable. This concept would be central to the plot of another successful Zelda installment, Ocarina of Time.
The central characters from the original Legend of Zelda are present in Link to the Past, but some got a makeover for the new Super Nintendo capabilities. Link remains, of course, the main antagonist, but this is the first game in which Zelda takes a somewhat active role in her own rescue. Link goes to Hyrule Castle to rescue her, and she can telepathically communicate with him to tell him where she is. He also gives Link a sword and shield when he finds it, and follows him out of the dungeons. Ganon continues to exist as the ever-present dark enemy, but players don’t realize that fact until much later in the game. The character, Agahnim, is the enemy that Link believes he is fighting, but in the game’s final battle, Ganon emerges from Agahnim’s broken body.
A Link to the Past was another groundbreaking game for Nintendo in the early 1990s, selling more than 4.5 million copies. The game was re-released on the Game Boy Advance in 2002 as a combination game with Four Swords, and was also recently re-released as a downloadable title for the Wii. Gamers can still play the game without having their SNES functional and connected, and employing newer audio and graphics technology. It has been voted one of the best games by numerous magazines and game lists, and is a classic in the vein of the entire Zelda series. This game is a must have for any Zelda fan as well as any video game fan.