Sunday, December 1, 2013

Best Video Game of 2013 (Part 2): Zelda A Link Between Worlds

I choose Pikmin 3 as a tie between my favorite games of the year, right alongside the trilling new entry in the Zelda series: "The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds" for the 3DS.

This new entry could be highlighted as nothing more than a re-tread or cash-in on the popularity and love people have for the original SNES title "Zelda: A Link to the Past". On the surface, that might appear true -- but anyone picking up this title, who has played the original, will not see just another adventure in the same land - but rather a new, and startlingly punchy and quick paced Zelda, like nothing we've ever seen before, and all without loosing anything that helped define the series.

What makes this game so great? Strangely enough -- it's the rental system, introduced to you by a strange fellow named Ravio. He not only worms his way into your house - but eventually takes it over, as a new rental store. Unlike any Zelda game before it - nearly every key item is available for your use right from the word: GO. BUT, there is a catch! If you loose in battle (without any fairies to revive you), you will loose all of your rented items. You could be literally be left empty handed, in the middle of a boss fight -- giving new pressure and consequence to falling in battle. You can mitigate all of this, though, by buying up certain items. Collecting rubies is quite fun in the game -- and there are plenty to be had all over! Over half way through the game I was able to afford to buy every item.

There's an added advantage to buying, over renting -- you can bring your items to a creature called Mother Maimai - who has lost her many children to all corners of the world. For each 10 of her Children found, she will upgrade a weapon of your choosing. (But only items you own) This adds yet another fun and meaningful search to the game, as you are always on the look out for the little squeaks for help, from carefully hidden Maimai Children!

Now, none of this would mean anything if the dungeons and overworld where not a challenge. While nothing is made to be impossibly hard -- you are not given implicit instructions on where to go after your first 3 or 4 dungeons. You can tackle them in any order - potentially getting your in trouble, if you bit off more than you can chew. The dungeons are meticulously constructed, as well -- adding both a level of punchy action, with one secret discovered or solved after another -- and leading to a satisfying boss fight, usually with a weapon that you better hope you brought along with you! Check points, and game-saving Weather Vanes are found all throughout the world - so this quick and punchy puzzle solving combat can be put on hold, usually at a moments notice.

Everything about this game, from the over world to the dungeons, is simply fun -- pure Zelda fun -- clocked up, and appealing to both new and old fans alike. Nintendo has been struggling with what they want to do with the next console Zelda title -- and a game like this affirms my belief that they will come up with something new and truly worth our while.

The story in this game is sparse - but engaging. You are on the hunt for an evil sorcerer, who can turn people and Sages into living pictures. A gem you received from Ravio protects you from this very spell - even allowing you to turn the tide and use it to your advantage. Being able to turn into a 2D drawing, walking along walls and such, is such a fresh new mechanic - that it deserves to be the centerpiece of the game.

The story eventually takes you away from Hyrule - and sends you to Lorule -- an upside down kingdom, ruled by Hilda, who is in desperate need of Hyrule's hero. Lorule is essentially the Dark World, from a Link to the Past -- but, while it uses the same assets from the previous game - that in no way makes this world less enjoyable or scary to venture into. My thought, on why Lorule even exists, is that, when the Dark World ceased to see be, upon Ganon's defeat, the existence of the Dark World had to go somewhere -- giving birth to the similar, but different, Lorule. That's my theory, at least.

This game does repeat on many trends, or secrets, from the previous game - but sometimes to your complete surprise. Its an excellent new entry in the Zelda franchise - and I have high hopes for what it means, when Nintendo creates the next Zelda console title.

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