Games that play on your nostalgia are a funny thing. Usually they end up pissing all over your memories, as was the case with Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem forever. Link’s latest adventure, A Link between Worlds for the 3DS does exactly the opposite; it takes all the things that made you fall in love with a Legend of Zelda, and makes them better.

Set after that defining 16-bit SNES classic, A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds is in fact set in the very same universe – and looks for all the world like the same game, with a graphical lick paint afforded by the march of technological evolution. It’s not though, because it makes some worthwhile and interesting changes to the established, dare I say clichéd formula. Those changes don’t come in the narrative though.


Once again, the peaceful kingdom of Hyrule is under threat, some or other big bad guy is after that mystical relic that keeps the Kingdom in check, the Triforce. This time, it’s some nasty by the name of Yuga, who’s transformed the seven sages in to paintings to easier wrest control of the artefact. In an early encounter, he does the same to our green-tunic wearing hero, turning him in to a painting too, stuck against a wall. Our hero is able to escape the spell though, and gains the ability to become a painting against a wall again at will. This new mechanic adds a new dimension (or rather, takes one away) to the game’s puzzles. If there’s a gap that a fully-fleshed Link can’t traverse, merge with the wall as a painting and he’ll be able to shimmy along the wall as a living piece of art. It’s a neat trick that’s used constantly and often cleverly throughout the game.


Later on, the same mechanic is used to allow Link to travel between worlds (so that’s where the title comes from!) by passing through fissures in the landscape that link Hyrule with a darker counterpart, Lorule – which is where Yuga has hidden all the captures sages. And though it features many of the same locales and people, Lorule is not quite a dark mirror world – there are some rather stark and significant geographical changes and you’ll have to use your wits to get about in Lorule.


Aside from the dimension shifting mechanic, A Link between Worlds plays very much like A Link to the Past. You’ll visit many of the same locations, meet some of the same characters and even collect some of the same items – but it’s in no way the same game, or a simple rehash. It is, by far, the most accessible game in the Zelda series – and in this case “accessible” doesn’t mean “dumbed-down” or simplified. There are a number of changes that just make the whole thing less of a chore. For starters, it’s a little more open world, in that after a certain point you’re free to tackle the puzzle-filled dungeons in any order you like.


Early on the game you’re introduced to the merchant Ravio who offers all the necessary dungeon items for rent. Need a fire rod for the ice dungeon? Just rent one; the catch here is that if you die, the item gets returned to Ravio’s store and you’ll have to rent it again. When you have the necessary cash, you can buy the items outright and never have to worry about renting them again. It’s also a little more accessible and far less grindy in that you won’t have to slash away at grass to find bombs or arrows. Every one of the action items uses a recharging energy gauge, essentially mana instead of ammo.


Even the backtracking element, so prevalent in Zelda games is mitigated to a large degree. The overworld is peppered with magical weather vanes that not only allow you to save your game, but also act as a sort of fast-travel system allow you to travel between them with ease. There is a caveat though; some items you can’t get from Ravio and you will need to find them – with no indication of where they might be. Some higher level gear, like robes that make you take less damage for example, are hidden away within specific dungeons, so there is still an optimum order. The dungeons themselves aren’t as taxing as those you’ll find in previous games, but they’re still impeccably designed, and there’s bound to be a puzzle or two that’ll leave you scratching your chin for a moment. Sidequests and collectibles fluff out the experience, but I have to say it’s not particularly long for a Zelda game; you could easily be done adventuring in 20 hours.


If you’ve played A Link to the Past, this sequel is a glorious love letter to fans, taking those fond memories and reshaping them, reminding you why you fell in love with the series in the first place. If you’ve never played the 16-bit gem, A Link between Worlds is simply exceptional; a must own, must play game that one of the best you’ll find on the 3DS, or indeed any system this year.

Last Updated: November 27, 2013

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A Link Between Worlds blends nostalgic familiarity with newfangled fantasy, introducing innovation with sacrificng any of what made its forebear great. It's an incredible adventure for fans old and new.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was reviewed on Nintendo 3DS
91 / 100

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

    Geoff, Is this game the reason you didn’t mind giving up the Mario download code?

    Nice Review as always by you… more games making me want a 3DS…

    • TiMsTeR1033

      only R1499 lol

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        While stocks last?

    • It certainly helped. 😉

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        Glad it helped… but it’s almost Mario time for you… lucky bastid!

        • TiMsTeR1033

          what I would give to play New mario game with friends!

  • Admiral Chief Duke

    Damn, looks like I need to start eyeballing a 3DS with my bonus moolah

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Get a 3DS and a Vita – both devices are fantastic! I carry both of them with me now (in the gadget bag)

      • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

        the new, improved gadget man… plays games wherever he is… screw crime

  • Unavengedavo(aka. MadeYouLook)

    Is this what Zelda would look like if he was a girl?…

    • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

      Pretty much

    • TiMsTeR1033

      sexy sexy!!

    • …Zelda is a girl. Link is the hero.

      • Unavengedavo(aka. MadeYouLook)

        Take it you didn’t look closely at the picture?

        • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

          That’s a pic of a female Link… not of Zelda 😛

        • I saw the trollface..though it’s not where i was looking.

          • Unavengedavo(aka. MadeYouLook)

            Well if you noticed it first then I think you would prefer him to be a boy 😛

    • Aussious

      You mean Link… I’ll never look at her I mean him the same way again…

    • Aussious


  • oVg

    Now just give me a bigger screen and I WILL BE ALL OVER THIS HANDHELD LIKE WHITE ON RICE.

  • RyseandRepeat

    man this brings back some great memories. Really. What a game! Nice review bro.

  • Umar Seeker of Truth

    A link to the past along with minish cap are some of my fav Zelda titles. That’s it…time to get a 3ds…time to put my DS to rest now and upgrade…need this in my life

  • Churze

    I’m not complaining about the score…I just don’t understand this review.
    He didn’t REALLY name any flaws. You need to justify your score, not just base it off of how much you enjoyed the game (imo).