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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds review

Finding something bad to say is the greatest challenge of all

Once a Zelda fan, always a Zelda fan. Perhaps it's because Shigeru Miyamoto's original character design and premise was so strong an idea. Perhaps it's because, ultimately, as apparently evil as society gets, the majority of us want to believe that good will always overcome bad in the end. Or perhaps it's just because Nintendo never fails to inject just enough originality into each new game to keep us buzzing with unadulterated adventuring glee.

Let's face it, any game that can have us baying for more despite making us complete the same old tasks time and time again must be doing something right. "What's that? We need to find a sword, then find a shield, then visit some murky dungeons in order to save the princess and the world? Heart Containers, you say? No, thanks!"

These are words that you'll almost certainly never hear and that's because the series is constantly edged forwards with new ideas and new mechanics breathing new life into the same old Hyrule. In recent years full 3D worlds have transformed the home console iterations into epic battles of good versus evil on a par with the likes of The Lord Of The Rings films, but that doesn't mean the handheld offerings need to fall behind. There's an insular, almost constrained feel to the 2D adventures that could never be translated into full-blown 3D... until now.

Click to view larger image

Pop-Up Hyrule

What do you do if you want to keep the look and feel of the timeless Super Nintendo classic, LTTP (The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past) but drag it Hookshot, fishing line and sink-hole into the 21st Century? If you're Nintendo, you recreate that same Hyrule in three dimensions, but stick with the bird's eye view, which sounds simple when you explain it in a sentence. That could've been done years ago, surely?

Recent insights into the development of ALBW (The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds) are fascinating, with Aonuma explaining the difficulties of getting the SNES's 2D map to look right in 3D. You wouldn't know it from looking at the game, of course. Apart from the occasional glimpse of a sloping, real-world rupee as you sidle by in the brand new, isometric Merge mode, Hyrule is utterly convincing and mesmerising in equal measure.

The team has gone to great pains to make sure that this game looks and feels just like its SNES cousin, but it's only when you stop and think about it that you realise what a task this must have been. As with any great game, though, it doesn't matter: the world is absolutely solid in its creation and the nostalgia that oozes from every pore is a direct result. Gamers who have never experienced LTTP's charms are in for a sumptuous gateau of a treat. Discovering this particular Hyrule for the first time must be an added bonus but, by the same token, fans of the SNES classic will be giggling like toddlers at every little cherry of a reference to that bygone relic.

The simple farm-town charms and mini-game respites of Kakariko Village. The gurgling ineptitude of the Zoran folk. The inability of anyone but you to claim multiple Heart Container upgrades that have quite possibly been sat there for decades. Could nobody just buy a ladder? Who put them there in the first place? Were they placed, or do they just grow of their own accord? These are the questions that I would (if I could) ask the Great Fairy, rather than just splish-sploshing in her luminescent paddling pool and enslaving her mini-me subjects.

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  1. jezperrott Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 15:34

    I find it bizarre that, with only one incredibly minor negative, clearly aimed at very young players, you didn't give it 100.

  2. mandlecreed Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 15:38

    As someone who has played LttP for at least a couple of decades (my fave Zelda strill - OoT was amazing, but boy it felt too much like hard work at times :lol: ), and still whips it out (the game) to complete at least once every couple of months I CAN NOT WAIT FOR THIS.

    I'm obviously intrigued as to how the overworld has been changed, and look forward to going, "Ooh that's different," and, "Blimey what happened to that," lots and lots of times over the course of the game.

  3. alexjones94 Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 15:50

    I find it bizarre that, with only one incredibly minor negative, clearly aimed at very young players, you didn't give it 100.


    These comments appear every time a big game is reviewed and every time I'm baffled by them. For starters, a score of 100% implies perfection - a game that cannot be bettered in any way. As brilliant as ALBTW seems to be, I doubt it's perfect.
    But more importantly, it's scored a fantastic 94%! Besides, the body of the review is the important bit, anyway. Who cares what number is slapped at the end? They're saying it's a superb game; go buy it instead of moaning about a few percent.

  4. ChandraONM Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 15:58

    I find it bizarre that, with only one incredibly minor negative, clearly aimed at very young players, you didn't give it 100.

    A review will never cover off every single thought in my mind.
    After playing the game for a long time and writing the review, I felt that was the correct score.

    You'll know from the words whether the game's for you or not. . . the numbers at the end are just a necessary evil.

    If you would like to know why it lost points, here are the reasons, though none of them should affect your decision to buy. The negatives are minor and I chose to spend more time on the reasons why you SHOULD buy it rather than the opposite.

    - Rental/Purchase Item Mechanic seems largely irrelevant (this is tied into the difficulty because, if the game was harder it would be relevant)
    - Hearts/Rupees are too readily available for your average gamer. This is countered to an extent with Hero Mode, but unlike Wind Waker this isn't available from the start and only on second play through. Essentially, Difficulty levels should have been available from the start

  5. ChandraONM Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 15:59

    I find it bizarre that, with only one incredibly minor negative, clearly aimed at very young players, you didn't give it 100.


    These comments appear every time a big game is reviewed and every time I'm baffled by them. For starters, a score of 100% implies perfection - a game that cannot be bettered in any way. As brilliant as ALBTW seems to be, I doubt it's perfect.
    But more importantly, it's scored a fantastic 94%! Besides, the body of the review is the important bit, anyway. Who cares what number is slapped at the end? They're saying it's a superb game; go buy it instead of moaning about a few percent.

    What he said :mrgreen:

  6. mav Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 16:13

    TBH I think no game should ever get 100% - it implies it is perfect and can never be beaten (on that system) which is flawed.

    How do you come up with the % scores? is it broken into categories or just a general feeling?

  7. king of Games Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 16:22

    Cannot wait till i get it tomorrow

  8. MatthewONM Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 16:28

    How do you come up with the % scores? is it broken into categories or just a general feeling?


    General feeling. You can start writing with a score in mind, only for you words to bring the game into perspective and the score to end up differently. There's often debate between the team members on the scores - ideally, we try and get a second person to play the game so we're not blindly praising/kicking something based on one mad opinion! We're often more carefully when dropping the BIG scores - we want to make sure it's a game we can fully endorse as a magazine.

  9. alexjones94 Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 16:32

    If it were up to me, I'd do away with review scores - they get far too much attention when the opinion expressed in the review proper is the truly pertinent thing. They're nice as rough indicator of a game's quality, I guess, but I've never placed too much emphasis on them. Read the review, and make a call as to whether you want to play it or not. That's the important thing, right?
    Having said that, I can see why ONM choose to keep them; they're an industry standard and I think the majority of readers like having a score. I just think it's a shame when a number overshadows a writer's lengthy thoughts on a game.

  10. HughPR Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 16:55

    I agree that, in general, too much emphasis is placed on scores by readers (not just ONM, but elsewhere on the internet). But for me I like them as they give just a little extra indication of the game's merits. Let's face it though, I'm pretty sure that everyone here has the game on pre-order or plans to buy it very soon after release and the review was unlikely to ever change that, but I feel that the scores are good for people who perhaps are less involved with the lead-up to games. Am I making sense?...probably not but oh well. Nice review Chandra, I think that mine may well arrive tomorrow so I'll have to ration myself as I have uni work to do!

    (PS: For the mother of all review disputes I shall raise the taboo word 'Gamespot'...although they did review this nicely!)

  11. E123-Fawful Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 17:09

    How do you come up with the % scores? is it broken into categories or just a general feeling?


    General feeling. You can start writing with a score in mind, only for you words to bring the game into perspective and the score to end up differently. There's often debate between the team members on the scores - ideally, we try and get a second person to play the game so we're not blindly praising/kicking something based on one mad opinion! We're often more carefully when dropping the BIG scores - we want to make sure it's a game we can fully endorse as a magazine.

    Summed up what I was typing when the power went out as I was about to post. :x

    I have to say that just looking at scores isn't enough. You have to look at how the review is written and the language used. That is where you will find reasons for the score and it expresses more of the reviewers opinion instead of the numbers. But sometimes you have to be careful with how the review is worded. Some reviews absolutely rave over a game and treat it like the second coming of Christ (Some TLOU reviews which is why I find it overrated. It's good but it isn't the second coming. An 8 to a 9 was more appropriate to me. And Gears of War Judgement is another one. 9.2. No Horde, No Beast, CoDernised, too arcadey in campaign (There used to be an arcade option now the whole thing is an arcade) and dreadful maps. Khan was a terrible General. RAAM and Skorge would make mince meat of him in seconds(Literally)). Some are just whinging because they were terrible at the game (IGN - Sonic Lost World and how he didn't know how to spin dash/go fast (Same guy who said Luigi was too "floaty" the DLC felt like DLC and it was too hard) or how W101 was "too hard" (Funnily enough the same reviewer said one of ALBW's positives was that it was "Challenging". Wait what?)). And there are times where the score contradicts the language used. A 7 although you used words which make it seem like a 9.) They also need to have enough content. If ONM were to review a huge open world game (Lets say GTA V even though it isn't on a Nintendo system) on 1 page the review wouldn't be complete. If however it was on 4/5 pages it would feel that they covered more content and that makes reviews more credible. I don't want to be told the game has a good art style and characters 9/10 only to find it's as glitchy as Sonic 06, the gameplay is boring and the story is dreadful.

    Scores are good for getting an average but it appears basic statistics isn't deployed (I got a C in stats at GCSE Level (It was difficult) and hope I do well enough in normal maths to carry it on in College). Remove the Outliers and then take the mean and show the average with the outliers for a comparison. This would make Metacritic a lot better.

    Rant Over.

  12. LFOB Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 17:17

    The greatest Legend Of Zelda title of recent years.


    ALBW- 94%
    Skyward Sword- 98%

  13. ChandraONM Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 17:38

    The greatest Legend Of Zelda title of recent years.


    ALBW- 94%
    Skyward Sword- 98%

    Different team. Different editor. Different era. Different reviewer.
    ONM has printed thousands of reviews over the years and if every score had to fit in with every relevant score that came before it, the world would explode.

  14. Balladeer Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 17:49

    Fawful's and LFOB's posts together make quite the ironic pair!

  15. E123-Fawful Wednesday 20th Nov 2013 at 18:34

    Yeah. I was going to reply to him but Chandra beat me to it.
    Rather funny to look at. I'm ranting about reviews and how the score isn't enough then:

    The greatest Legend Of Zelda title of recent years.


    ALBW- 94%
    Skyward Sword- 98%

  16. DaleBiederbeck Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 03:44

    I find it bizarre that, with only one incredibly minor negative, clearly aimed at very young players, you didn't give it 100.


    These comments appear every time a big game is reviewed and every time I'm baffled by them. For starters, a score of 100% implies perfection - a game that cannot be bettered in any way. As brilliant as ALBTW seems to be, I doubt it's perfect.
    But more importantly, it's scored a fantastic 94%! Besides, the body of the review is the important bit, anyway. Who cares what number is slapped at the end? They're saying it's a superb game; go buy it instead of moaning about a few percent.


    Please don't give that imbecilic "a perfect score means perfect and no such thing exists" argument. It's always been, well, to be blunt, stupid. A perfect score is a perfect score. The end. It's that asinine "perfect game" argument that warped game critique for so long. Film critics don't hold back giving a great movie a perfect score for such needless reasons, why should video game journalists?

    I would give the Super Mario Galaxy games 100%. Do they have some minor quibbles? Sure, why not. But who cares? They are of such quality that they should warrant a perfect score. There's no need to hold a game back out of some misguided sense of pretentiousness.

  17. DaleBiederbeck Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 03:46

    TBH I think no game should ever get 100% - it implies it is perfect and can never be beaten (on that system) which is flawed.

    How do you come up with the % scores? is it broken into categories or just a general feeling?


    I'm sorry, but that's always been an asinine argument. If no game should ever get a perfect score, why even have a rating system? The whole "perfect score means a perfect game" argument is nonsense. Many a fine game has had its metascore lowered because of such anti-logic.

  18. ChandraONM Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 09:29

    Hopefully we can all get past our views on review scores and enjoy the thing that brings us together. . . and just enjoy one of the best games of recent times.

  19. DaleBiederbeck Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 09:46

    Hopefully we can all get past our views on review scores and enjoy the thing that brings us together. . . and just enjoy one of the best games of recent times.


    Exactly. People put far too much credence in review scores. But I felt the need to let off some steam on the nonsensical "no game can get a perfect score" argument.

  20. mav Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 10:37

    Hopefully we can all get past our views on review scores and enjoy the thing that brings us together. . . and just enjoy one of the best games of recent times.


    Exactly. People put far too much credence in review scores. But I felt the need to let off some steam on the nonsensical "no game can get a perfect score" argument.

    Anti logic? in a world where lots of people want different things from the same games and have varying skill levels how can anything get a perfect score? unless of coarse you review a game with zero thought of any other besides yourself which a magazine is unlikely to do.

    Also your thoughts on the matter do not make my opinion foolish and I would thank you for not calling me such.

  21. DaleBiederbeck Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 11:09

    Exactly. People put far too much credence in review scores. But I felt the need to let off some steam on the nonsensical "no game can get a perfect score" argument.

    Anti logic? in a world where lots of people want different things from the same games and have varying skill levels how can anything get a perfect score? unless of coarse you review a game with zero thought of any other besides yourself which a magazine is unlikely to do.

    Also your thoughts on the matter do not make my opinion foolish and I would thank you for not calling me such.


    Because a perfect score is just a perfect score. According to the reviewer, it's used to deem the absolute pinnacle of gaming. It doesn't mean "perfect in every way to everybody," one would have to be a simpleton to think scoring a game works such a way.

    If you have a scoring system, you should use it. Whether you use a more liberal scoring method (1 to 5 for example) or like to reserve perfect scores for rare exceptions, one should still, nonetheless, use the dang scoring system.

    If someone makes a scoring system with the intent on never using its full potential, why on Earth did they bother making the system to begin with? It's used to grade a game's quality, so if a game is among the best someone has ever played, why not use that perfect score? It doesn't mean the game is perfect in every way to everyone, it just means the game got a perfect score.

    Normally I don't like to act so pompous, but the whole "perfect game" argument is simply dumbfounding.

  22. mav Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 12:39

    a score of 100% by definition cannot be bettered (however you "aim" the scoring system) so either leads to a glass ceiling or leads to future games being given an equal score despite being better.

    It is flawed.

    I prefer a leader-board system personally, so you place a puzzle game as the third best puzzle game available (so places are fluid and all places may change with each new release)

    I cannot comment on you being pompous without resorting to your level and name calling, so I will not.

    besides, all of this is off topic now so I will say no more.

  23. alexjones94 Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 13:50


    These comments appear every time a big game is reviewed and every time I'm baffled by them. For starters, a score of 100% implies perfection - a game that cannot be bettered in any way. As brilliant as ALBTW seems to be, I doubt it's perfect.
    But more importantly, it's scored a fantastic 94%! Besides, the body of the review is the important bit, anyway. Who cares what number is slapped at the end? They're saying it's a superb game; go buy it instead of moaning about a few percent.

    Please don't give that imbecilic "a perfect score means perfect and no such thing exists" argument. It's always been, well, to be blunt, stupid. A perfect score is a perfect score. The end. It's that asinine "perfect game" argument that warped game critique for so long. Film critics don't hold back giving a great movie a perfect score for such needless reasons, why should video game journalists?

    I would give the Super Mario Galaxy games 100%. Do they have some minor quibbles? Sure, why not. But who cares? They are of such quality that they should warrant a perfect score. There's no need to hold a game back out of some misguided sense of pretentiousness.

    My point was more that arguing over a review score, especially over a few percent is pointless. It's all a mater of opinion and the key thing is that it's a fantastic game. I'm not sure anything I said was imbecilic, stupid, or pretentious. Chill out a bit, dude.

  24. Medevac Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 15:11

    It really, really, really bugs me how every new Zelda game that comes out is suddenly ONM's favourite Zelda title ever.

    Convenient.

  25. Darklord101 Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 15:24

    Cannot wait till i get it tomorrow

  26. Argenthor Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 21:44

    TBH I think no game should ever get 100% - it implies it is perfect and can never be beaten (on that system) which is flawed.

    How do you come up with the % scores? is it broken into categories or just a general feeling?


    Theoretically a score of 100% SHOULD be attainable, but only a tiny percentage of games would ever attain it.

  27. fisher2007 Thursday 21st Nov 2013 at 22:31

    Cannot wait till i get it tomorrow

  28. mav Friday 22nd Nov 2013 at 10:28

    TBH I think no game should ever get 100% - it implies it is perfect and can never be beaten (on that system) which is flawed.

    How do you come up with the % scores? is it broken into categories or just a general feeling?


    Theoretically a score of 100% SHOULD be attainable, but only a tiny percentage of games would ever attain it.

    Theoretically yes, but in reality?

  29. gamebox2d Saturday 23rd Nov 2013 at 11:36

    I couldn't find a thread for the november issue, so I'll post this here.

    Basically, I couldn't read most of issue 102, because of all the Zelda stuff. I don't want to know the characters, all the availble items, how you rent items and details of all the bad guys. I want to discover them myself.

    A movie review wouldn't outline all the key elements of a story, so why game reviews? All I want from a review is: Do you recommend it, and did you find anything you didn't like?

    Printing tips when a game hasn't been released is stupid. Don't do it again, please.

  30. JohnAllison Tuesday 3rd Dec 2013 at 22:38

    Best Zelda game I've played for a while, and I'm totally loving how fresh it feels. The graphics are pretty awesome on the 3DS too..

  31. gamebox2d Wednesday 4th Dec 2013 at 12:26

    Best Zelda game I've played for a while, and I'm totally loving how fresh it feels. The graphics are pretty awesome on the 3DS too..


    Brilliant game.

    It lacks the touching love story and characters of Link's Awakening... it's a bit easy compared to other Zeldas... but it's just such fun to play. I won't hear a bad word against it. I especially liked the way you had to work a bit to access the dungeons.

  32. Ackeron Tuesday 17th Dec 2013 at 17:08

    You'll know from the words whether the game's for you or not. . . the numbers at the end are just a necessary evil.


    Well said.

  33. liveswired Thursday 19th Dec 2013 at 19:10

    Looks awesome. Nintendo should be releasing this on the Wii U eShop through a cross play style promotion.

  34. The_zelda_fan Monday 23rd Dec 2013 at 16:58

    I loooooooove this game I got it today! :mrgreen:

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