E3 2013: A Link Between Worlds Preview

July 11, 2013

The Legend of Zelda series needs few introductions. As is the case with Mario, the series long standing history and flagship status is iconic with the Nintendo brand and revered among fans. With a library spanning over a quarter-century, Nintendo have the luxury of revisiting some of Link’s more memorable adventures, such as 2011’s Ocarina of Time 3DS and the upcoming Wind Waker HD remake. While these two titles come much later in Zelda’s history, Nintendo will be revisiting an earlier period with the 3DS title, A Link Between Worlds. At E3 2013, Rocket Chainsaw glimpsed the trailer for the upcoming game and accessed a hands-on demo.

Between Worlds is not so much a remake but serves as a sequel to A Link to the Past, taking place within the same universe. While we know few details of the plot so far, Nintendo has confirmed that the version of Link and Zelda to appear in the game won’t be the same characters; in other words, a generation of time has passed between the two games.

In terms of presentation, Between Worlds employs the same top down view as its SNES counterpart, with updated visuals taking a page from Skyward Sword‘s notable watercolour palette. As expected, the game makes full use of the handheld’s 3D capabilities to lend depth to the on-screen action, while the second screen allows for menu navigation, map perusal and selecting items on the fly. Moreover, the soundtrack revises some of the classics tunes found in the original game.

Zelda veterans could be forgiven for thinking Between Worlds utilises the same overworld as its predecessor, as most landmarks are largely in the same place. However, Nintendo has made a number of minor changes, some of which are as simple as enemy behaviour or the location of rupee-gifting items in the environment. Fans can also expect the Dark World to make an appearance but, due to the suspicious darkened portion on Between Worlds‘ logo, likely saw it coming anyway.

Dungeons will be remixed too but, likewise, only sparingly. For example, Link can depress springs with his hammer to vertically traverse through leveled dungeons, and these transitions are seamless thanks to the added depth of 3D. As it stands, we’re hopeful that the apparent changes will appeal to players without undermining the original experience.

The most notable feature we experienced was a completely new addition. Link now has the ability to etch himself onto the surface of walls in the likeness of a painting, then slide along a 2D plane to reach inaccessible areas. This ability proved useful in both traversal and puzzle solving. In some instances, Link could use his 2D image to reach a heart container on a distant platform or bypass the confines of a barred window. In other scenarios, melding onto a moving object would allow the player to cross gaps both vertically and horizontally.

Another tweak to the gamplay is Link’s magic meter which is no longer finite but recharges over time. Magic dictates the use of certain items like the Fire Rod, as well as the aforementioned 2D ability. While the recharging meter is a more forgiving feature than its previous incarnation, we expect that monitoring Link’s magic use will add an extra level of strategy to combat situations.

Overall, the game exudes that typical Zelda charm and should keeps fans occupied while awaiting Link’s proper high definition debut on the Wii U. In truth though, it’s difficult to determine just exactly what Between Worlds is. It’s not strictly a remake but uses a near-identical overworld as its predecessor. Likewise, it’s not a direct sequel but chronologically takes place after A Link to the Past. Whatever the case may be, Zelda fans should be excited that one of Link’s classic adventures is being revisited. The fact that it’s an earlier adventure shouldn’t matter either; seasoned gamers will likely welcome that nostalgic revisit, while younger gamers have a compelling reason to experience a Zelda game they might have missed.

Keep a look out for A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS this November.

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