I remember it so well, when I was still young, I really wanted a Super Nintendo console. The SEGA Master System was my first ever console and I loved it to (8-)bits, but when Nintendo announced their latest console and I saw Super Mario World, I was sold. I just had to have a SNES! Still, a console like that was very expensive and as a kid I didn’t have much money, of course. One of my friends, Wouter, he got the SNES before me and I remember how jealous I was back at the time. It wasn’t until 1993 that I got the SNES for X-mas in a bundle with Super Mario All-Stars, but that wasn’t the only game I got that X-mas, I also got The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
An adventure awaits!
Although I really loved Super Mario, what really excited me was this Zelda game. It was my first Zelda title and I had only heard about how great those games were from friends who had a NES and played the older games. But this one was 16-bit and it had great graphics and the music was just awesome! The start of the game really generates a lot of expectations, with Princess Zelda asking for your help and you chasing after your uncle, who told you explicitly to stay home. And once you find your uncle and inherit his sword, the adventure really starts! Just a look at the map back then made you realise just how big the world really was (back in those days it was a huge map).
It might not seem like much these days, but this map will always be imprinted in my memories.
What makes this game so great is that a lot of the areas in the world aren’t accessible until you’ve gained new gadgets and items to clear the way. This is done in such a clever way that you’ll end up wanting to come back to parts you’ve visited before to check if there are secrets you might have missed. Also, each item you gain in every dungeon is required to beat the boss in most cases, or it’s needed to at least make your way to the dungeon boss.
Wait, the game is not over yet?
What really baffled me as a kid was that when I finally beat Agahnim, the story’s supposed main antagonist was that the game was far from over! Instead you were thrown into a dark version of Hyrule, cursed and unable to use your sword.
Not only wasn’t the game not over after completing three dungeons and beating Agahnim, there were eight more dungeons to beat now! I knew back then that this game was big. Really big! Especially for one back in those days.
What I learned from A Link the Past
It may sounds silly to a lot of people, but video games can teach you quite a lot of things. One of the things that I learned from this game was that if you have the right tools, you can overcome anything. Link has to use the tools he has to make do and grow. As he beats dungeons, he will grow stronger and be able to take on more difficult challenges.
Plot twists are important elements in any story. As I stated in the previous segment, I was so thrown off that the game wasn’t yet finished. It was such a big twist for me and realising I was far from done. I loved it and still love it every time I play this game.
This game contains every element that a great video game needs. What separates A Link to the Past from so many other games and is still one of the best games to play nowadays is that it contains all the elements that separate good games from great games. The story is solid, albeit a bit simple, but back in those days quite a feat. The progression system makes you want to explore every nook and cranny of the world. The gameplay and controls are great. The game is easy to learn, yet hard to master. The graphics are great, although it has to be said that graphics are never the key to make a great game. I’ve always used my knowledge of these key elements to determine whether other games I play are any good and everyone who is into game design really should take a look at this game as an example for excellent gameplay.
Super Nostaligia Enterainment System
Every year in December I replay A Link to the Past. This year will be no exception, but I really wanted to share with you why I think it’s one of the greatest games ever made. It has aged so well and I can’t wait to beat Agahnim and Ganon once again! 😉
Do you guys have any games that you replay often? Please let me know in the comments!