The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) review
"Take Super Mario World. The same level aesthetic, the same goofy tree sprites, the weird ''Mushroom Kingdom'' look of it all. Apply a steamroller over the game at a 45 degree angle and call the result an ''isometric overhead perspective.'' Replace Mario with a squat, short-bus rendition of the fabled ''Link'' character. "
Take Super Mario World. The same level aesthetic, the same goofy tree sprites, the weird ''Mushroom Kingdom'' look of it all. Apply a steamroller over the game at a 45 degree angle and call the result an ''isometric overhead perspective.'' Replace Mario with a squat, short-bus rendition of the fabled ''Link'' character.
Call the fruits of these labors ''the greatest game of all time.'' Call this game Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Zelda III is entouraged by perhaps the most reckless SNES hype ever seen. Forget the Axelays and Megaforces and Final Fights and Super Castlevanias you were duped into buying. Compared to Link to the Past, these are obscure eBay trinkets. The hype and frothing praise for this have every fat nerd with boobs and prescription shoes proclaiming it the modern masterpiece the Genesis failed to deliver.
In this disaster of boredom, you assume control of the now-familiar Link, who is (shocking!) having a cryptic dream! In this dream, he is treated to a (gasp!) mysterious message cluing him to go to a castle about a city block from his house. Being a peasant boy, it's odd he'd live so close to the royal palace, but he's also fat and cross-eyed so that means he probably eats a lot and watches his food go all the way to his face. At any rate, it's raining a quite unforgettable rain outside... yet you must press on.
You thus send Link on this journey by adventuring his Donkeylips-looking self over to the castle... you then reunite with your father who is rummaging around in a nearby sewer (not making this up). He then gives you a sword and shield because that's what give to small, fat children. Link, although never having these items before, is immediately able to master the art of combat.
For instance, he can weakly slash, or he can hold his sword still and jog straight into things over and over. Mind you, as he gains experience with his subterranean-dwelling father's weaponry, he'll learn great new moves like spinning around with the sword out. This gives the game its ''dynamic'' qualities.
Should you bear with our fat goofus and start to explore the fairly sizeable area in this storybook adventure, you'll find that the game's dungeons and places of interest are spread across an absolutely inexcusable map layout. Much of the map's even most remote areas are reachable by Link right away- but only after he meanders around to them in the most ridiculous ways. There is initially no A to B in this grotesque test of human patience; you must first see your destination and then figure out how best to navigate the neanderthal lay of the land. First, walk three screens around a stupid fence any non-fat kid could climb over. Then, walk two screens back until you get to the large puddle. Fat kids in Hyrule can't float without Zora boots, though, so it's one screen down and seven back to the right where you can fat your way through some grass and then back up then down then right then left and so on.
Sure, eventually traversing this crap will be made easier... after going ridiculous lengths for limited reward.
The game progresses in this fashion. Stupid things you must do will be easier for you to do later, when you don't need to do them anymore. Reaching a dungeon may be a process so insipid now, but once you don't need to do it, it'll be easier.
The dungeons you reach are dank expanses which really make the SNES look weak. The overhead perspective, replete with a disturbing sense of vanishing point, combined with the absolutely still nature of the screens, make the layouts seem extremely redundant. Clever ''lights out'' routines don't go far to make each screen of each dungeon look just like the last, so much so that you'll beg for the boss fights not out of interest, but out of boredom.
Boss fights are surprisingly difficult thanks to the mediocre control. You'll have much trouble getting your intended angle on your attacks and thus will suffer needless hits and needless continues. These glorious encounters are presented just like the rest of the game: fatly.
Lacking the latter-day technology of 16-bit games, Zelda is in serious need of linescrolling. Without it, the stiff, stillborn dungeons look so bland and static that it's almost distracting. Almost, though, in that a distraction would provide you a reason to differentiate one part from the next. The practically monochromatic and definitely monotonous dungeons just don't visually distinguish themselves enough to sustain attention, let alone entertain. Colors abound outdoors, though (sorta), where a pastel green slaughters your sight while goofy Mario houses and decently-detailed fat people decorate the landscape.
Throughout these insults to sensible dieting and graphical achievement, a thoroughly disappointing soundtrack is unconfidently played. Songs are one-dimensional and muted. Rather than achieving that resonating organ effect loved so dearly in Super Castlevania IV, these tragedies are more kazoo-like, or in some cases, like an odd, nasal horn.
But past all that- past the fatness of the hero and the graphics, past the clumsy, asinine dungeons, and past the unrewarding quest aesthetic- lay the fact that this game is simply nothing like what it should be. Its stupid rain is forgettable and its stupid world, whether light or dark, is simply not fun to explore. It doesn't matter whether you judge this game against its hype or against what a Zelda title should be; it simply doesn't come close to holding to a standard so prominently, unreachably high.
Community review by sinner (March 14, 2004)
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