The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Part 2
It seems like forever ago when I wrote part 1 of this review. I have been itching, chomping at the bit, if you will to bring you this next part. The thing that greatly surprised me about part 1 was your reactions. My desire in this review has been to convey to you what I felt as I experienced this game and your comments, Tweets, and messages indicate that I succeeded. The thing that surprised me the most was that you didn’t care if I ran long on the review. Since that is true, I will complete the review, no matter how long, with part 2. Since it has been a little while since part 1 of this review, I will begin this review with the last paragraph of part 1.
I next experience a moment. One of those amazing moments in a gamer’s life when they experience something that they know immediately will stay in their memory forever. I found the Master Sword. I read the message in front of it and went around to pick it up when I heard another familiar tune. One that took me immediately back to the Temple of Time. The pendants are now floating in the air, and that intoxicating music is going on as Link pulls that destined sword out of its pedestal and claims what belongs to him. Now I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, I love this game almost more than I can love a human baby. Knowing Zelda games as I do, I know they wouldn’t have mentioned seven wise men/sages if I wasn’t going to have to complete dungeons for each one of them. I realize I am not even halfway through and I have already had one of the best experiences I have ever had with a video game.
Now that I have the Master Sword in tow, I seem to remember that there was a thing up on top of the mountain that I needed the Master Sword for. I shlep on up there and grab the ether and I need to test it out. Oh yes. This will do nicely. Ok, now, what was that guy who is magic enough to throw his voice around telepathically but not magic enough to help me fight anyone babbling about? Master Sword yada yada, got it. Oh no, Zelda is in trouble? Wait a second. Exactly how many people can just beam thoughts into my head anyway? Oh well, gotta head to the Sanctuary. Apparently there is some sort of dust up going over there. Oh no. They have taken Zelda. Awww. The sage. Mortally wounded. Can’t really convey my emotion properly. A little help please, Darth Vader?
Perfect, thanks. Alright I have a big bad sword now and I have quite frankly had enough of your shit, Agahnim. I head over to Hyrule castle. Now in the beginning of the game, I had accidentally wandered up to the roof and had gotten knocked on my ass by that protective magical barrier so I save myself a few steps and figure that this must be where I need to find Zelda. In I go just in time to watch this shmuck disappear my dear princess, basically dare me to do anything about it, and then disappear. After a few frustrated minutes of where the hell do I go now, I figure out I can cut the curtains open and it is on. Agahnim, I am going to pimp slap your name out of the phone book. This is where my Ocarina of Time experience comes in handy. Having already been told I can’t physically hurt him, I figure out that I can simply play ping pong with his magic attacks. Bam. Dead. Suck it, Magic McGee. Ahh, not dead. Drawing me into the Dark World? Fine, let’s finish this.
Well, instead, he dumped me on top of a pyramid without so much as cab fare and he split. What a dick. Oh, the voice is back. He can talk between dimensions, but the lazy bastard still can’t lift a finger to help me. Whatever, jerk. This is one of those places where I am really glad I have the map. I need to get over to where the first medallion was. Quick pause to note that the music in the Dark World is awesome. Then again, I rarely come across Zelda music I don’t love. Still though, it’s just… perfect. In fact, I decide to explore the Dark World a little bit. I like what they’ve done with the place. A very reasonable facsimile of the light world, but obviously corrupted by the power of evil. As I had expected, there is a bunch of swapping between dark and light worlds in order to get to everywhere and everything I’ll need to get to. It is a Zelda game, after all.
As a general rule, I almost never give an NPC money if I can avoid it. After somehow lucking into finding the monkey, I tell him to go get a job. Bad call. I get him back and carry on. 110 rupees to open a dungeon? Who’s running it, Square Enix? The first dungeon isn’t overly difficult and it follows a pattern I am very familiar with. Find the keys, unlock the doors, get the big new item, use the new item to defeat the boss. In this dungeon, I later found out that I could have done the job with bombs much easier than the hammer, but oh well. I break through his mask, give him some unwanted plastic surgery and I free my very first maiden. Say, that diamond capsule looks familiar. I catch her speech, confirm my understanding of it, and as I suspected, I have 6 more of these ladies to go find. Off I go.
The journey continues and while I am not going to recap every single footstep, a lot of the journey is noteworthy. I am noticing the striking similarities between this Zelda game and many other Zelda games. It all feels comfortable and familiar and for just a little while, I am 11 years old again. I’m sitting in my bedroom during Summer break and I am trying to dissect every square inch of the map. I’m trying to find every possible piece of heart, every hidden anything I can just as I did when I was a kid with every game I touched. A time when 100%-ing a game was not an option, it was a foregone conclusion. A time when I actually finished a game to its fullest before I even thought about buying another one. A time when I didn’t rush through games so I could review them. As I am playing, even when I am lost and frustrated, I feel this thing on my face. Like the corners of my mouth are trying really hard to touch my ears. A smile. One that refuses to vacate the premises as I dig my way farther into this masterpiece.
Now. I’d like to spend a moment in discussion on a certain dungeon. For a while here in Tampa, FL, our Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team played in what was then known as the Ice Palace. While we did win a Stanley Cup during that time, a lot of the rest of the time was extremely frustrating. The frustration in that Ice Palace could not hold the jock of the frustration in the Link to the Past Ice Palace. I equate it to people now playing Ocarina of Time for the first time and despising the Water Temple. I get it now. Probably not too bad to those who grew up on it but as an adult, screw this dungeon. Also, those swinging fire rods, do they not look awfully familiar? *COUGH* MARIO *COUGH.* It was just a very frustrating maze to me that I was thankful to have completed.
While we are on the subject of things that I found to be less than perfect here, I’ll go ahead and ask: Why does Link have pink hair? Was he going through an 80’s glam rock phase? Also, what was with the tunics changing colors and the hats changing to different colors? I do not approve. Also, I realize that the seven maidens are all magical and omnipotent and what have you, but why is Link good enough to rescue you but not smart enough to hear the words you speak? He can hear just fine. We don’t need to verify understanding every single time.
With that out of the way, I am truly glad I was able to delay the second part of this because it gave me the time I needed to really explore the dark and light worlds. It gave me time to talk to NPC’s, to figure out a few hidden things, and to just plain enjoy myself. So, fast forward a bit and it is time. I have 6 maidens. Hmm. What is that over there? Looks like another maiden. That is certainly not the one I was expecting. I’ll show you.
Oh, right! Zelda is the last maiden. By the way, I figured out the super bomb thing. Now that is a nice powerful sword. Oh, yeah and silver arrows. Perfect for hunting werewolves in the time before guns. Remember how frustrating the Ice Palace was? OMG the platforms in Turtle Rock. That one room where you have to light all of the torches while riding on the platform tested my knowledge of the dirtier side of the English language. I think I passed. Also. Chain Chomps? Really? Was this originally supposed to be Super Mario: A Link Between Pipes? The thing I LOVED about Turtle Rock: those bank tube-esque things you had to navigate around in. Further proving my point that they would be an efficient form of transportation for us all. Apparently lava proof. The Mirror Shield is neat. I guess. On to the boss. My knowledge of gaming lore tells me that bosses with no color on most of their body and then two distinct colors on two distinct locations have given me the coordinates for their weak spots. Furthermore, red and blue are notoriously fire and ice. I have a fire rod and an ice rod. Based on the battle with Twinrova in Ocarina of Time, I believe I have my strategy. I spit hot fire, I’m cold as ice and down goes this behemoth. Zelda! Oh hai! Huzzah! Barrier around Gannon’s place is gone. Let’s get him.
Can I just say that it is genius to make me fight the 3 bosses from the light world again? Suddenly I realize that maybe I didn’t actually beat them the first time. Maybe, like Agahnim, defeating them just shifted them into the dark world. REALLY nice touch. I make my way through what might be the best constructed dungeon in the history of gaming. It’s at least up there. Someone should do a piece about the best dungeons of all time. The time has come for round 2 with Agahnim. You won’t escape this time you little shit. Nice trick. Replicating yourself, Loki style. Well, you forgot how much I hate your face and so let’s dance. Down goes Agahnim and oh my. I see. Agahnim was really Ganon playing dress up the whole time. Awesome. Everyone wants to feel pretty sometimes.
Ganon is apparently part vampire because he turns into a bat and flies away. Umm ok. Now what? RIGHT! My
ocarina flute! I choose you, Pidgeotto! I drop down into the pyramid, ready to meet my most deadly foe. It admittedly takes me a few tries to figure out his movements, how to hurt him, etc. I do figure it out, though, until the part where he turns the lights out. I’d get him with the sword and then he would be stunned and I would try to hit him with the sword more. Well, that is incorrect. I remembered finally that I was told earlier in the game that I needed the silver arrows to put him down because the only thing that can kill Ganon is a super special arrow. Maybe like a light arrow, but with less resolution. Ganon dies from an arrow to the knee chest. Now the moment I have been waiting for. Gimme gimme that Triforce.
I get my Triforce, I get a truly impressive ending for the SNES, and I get something more than that. I suddenly get it. I was worried for all of this time that playing and loving Link to the Past would somehow make me love Ocarina of Time less. I get it now. For me, anyway, playing Link to the Past did nothing of the sort. It instead, grew my love of the entire franchise to a proportion I can not describe to you. I suddenly realized how things in the overall universe are interconnected. How ideas from one Zelda game were expanded on or referenced in other Zelda games. I am blown away at the love that this franchise has been crafted with and the care that has been taken with the details over these many many years. I loved and adored a single game for an extremely long time. Playing Link to the Past didn’t replace that love and adoration. It expanded it to an entire franchise, and gave me a newfound respect for this console I have set out to experience for the very first time, even if I am two decades late.