I believe that Zelda games were meant to be played from a top-down perspective.
Sure, the age of 3D gaming has been pretty kind to the series, and all of them have been incredible in one way or another. Furthermore, it might have taken a while for me to truly appreciate the side-scrolling nature of Adventure of Link, but even that worked really well. Hell, I’d even be willing to try a turn-based Zelda game! Nintendo did a great job with Super Mario RPG and the Paper series, so why not?
Playing with a top-down view just goes back to that first time we set out on a Hyrulean adventure. It was just as simple as going up, down, left or right, and there was no lock-on targeting to worry about – walk around, hit stuff with a sword, and you were good to go.
A Link to the Past brought gamers back to the basics after Zelda II‘s radical departure from the original formula. Not only was the world bigger this time around, but the Light World\Dark World dichotomy added a whole new layer to the gameplay (pretty much literally). There were a bunch of new items that would become series mainstays, such as bottles, the hookshot, coloured tunics, as well as the legendary Master Sword.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but by adding the Piece of Heart thing (finding four pieces grants one Heart Container), you were given yet another reason to explore both the Light and Dark Worlds extensively. Death Mountain in particular had several caves and ledges for you to drop down from, and it was never obvious how to get to them – you often had to travel from one world to the other in order to get to otherwise impossible-to-reach locations.
I could go on and on about why the game mechanics made it fun to play, but the overall mood of the game is great, as well. From the moment you step out of Link’s house and into a torrential downpour, you’re shown just what this 16 bit console was capable of. The lighting and graphics were not only fun to look at, but they set the mood quite well.
NPC’s were also given a much larger role this time around. No longer were they simply hidden in a cave to give you random tips, or walking around a village aimlessly. They could now be found anywhere on the map, and would not only give you a tip or two, but give you some kind of beneficial side-quest for you to complete.
A prime example of this would be talking to the Swordsmith in Kakariko Village, who mentions that his partner got lost along the way; you KNOW this guy can probably give you a better sword, and you’re left scratching your head, wondering where the hell his partner is. You eventually find him later on in the game, but the idea that such a seemingly minor plotline could help you so much made you want to talk to everyone, and finish every side quest there was.
Throw in some of the best music on the Super NES, and you’ve got one heck of a game.
This memory is from a year or two after the release of A Link to the Past, and it just screams of 90′s pop culture.
I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Game Genies because of their ability to let you cheat your way through a game, but I loved their ability to modify certain things and change the overall experience just a bit. I owned one for Game Boy, but I never had much of a chance to tinker with the NES Game Genie until Josh gave me his, quite a few years later. Naturally, I hoped there would be a Game Genie for Super NES, and when it finally hit the shelves, I rented it from Blockbuster as soon as I could.
The first weekend I had it, I messed around with codes for a few games. Cheats for A Link to the Past were slightly different than usual, allowing me to change the appearance of a few of my items, as well as some of the sound effects in the game. Not surprisingly, I spent most of my weekend playing “Super Zelda” more than anything else.
This was in late April, and the days were starting to get warmer and warmer. My sister had a friend over, and they were laying on the back deck in the awesome weather on old fold-out cushions, chillin’ out, listening to the radio.
I thought I’d try to be cool like them, so I turned off my game, got my own fold-out cushion, and joined them on the back deck. They were listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio show, and I thought some of the tunes were pretty awesome. The only thing that could make chillin’ out on a Sunday like this even better, would be to have a nice cold drink right beside me.
I go back to the fridge, and get myself a nice cold glass of Crystal Pepsi… awwww yeah. It was on the verge of being flat, which to me, was an extra bonus. I don’t mind pop fizz, but I always believed that a pop on the verge of being flat (not *quite* flat yet) was when it achieved its maximum flavour potential!
I went out, and convinced my sister and her friend that what I was drinking was a glass of water. Pft… they’ll never know…
Anyway, I heard some great tunes that day. I heard this song for the first time, and I thought it was amazing…
Ahhhh the 90′s, a time when even the most awful songs were pretty great.
*This song came out in ’93, so I’m not sure why the clip above says 1996… oh well.*