At PAX Prime I got my hands on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and it did not disappoint. Now, personally, I’m a huge fan of the classic installments of this long standing series. Link to the Past… Link’s Awakening… these games are my jam. As such, I was really excited to get my hands on a title that heralds back to the top-down style of play from days passed. A Link Between Worlds hasn’t missed a beat in recreating the classic feel of Zelda titles and mixes it seamlessly with improvements that utilize the DS’s touch screen, as well as the 3-D features that modern device provides.
Before handling the game, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the ability to… paint yourself onto the walls? Not sure what the narrative excuse for that ability is, but regardless, it worked mechanically. Many of the puzzles had you melting into the wall to curve around corners, a demand that actually had me thinking in three dimensions despite the 2-D nature of the majority of the game. In addition to this, you might think that the success of this feature might lead them to rely on it too heavily, but this was not the case.
The majority of the dungeon I played through was standard block and trigger manipulation, with only a sprinkling of the 3-D features. It was utilized often enough to make sure I always had my eye out for that being the solution to a puzzle, but not so often as to change the core feel of the experience. It was perfect. I only had a few tools: a hammer, a bow, some bombs… lots of Zelda favorites. It’s important to note though that I had room for LOTS more items. This is really encouraging because Link’s special tools are what have always made these games unique. The more tools Link has, the more ways he can be required to approach a puzzle, and the complexity of the game increases organically. It’s a fantastic system and I think we can count on it being alive and well in A Link Between Worlds.
The end of the demo was a particular treat. Revealed at the end of the available dungeon was on old favorite: Moldorm. Now, I’m sure that there will be plenty of new bosses as well, but it’s always nice to get those little nods of nostalgia.