The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, known as Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce (,Zeruda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Toraifōsu?, lit. “The Legend of Zelda: The Triforce of the Gods”) in Japan, is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game console, and the third installment in The Legend of Zelda series. It was first released in Japan in 1991, and was later released in North America and Europe in 1992. Shigeru Miyamoto and his team were solely responsible for this game’s development.
A Link to the Past‘s plot focuses on Link as he travels on a journey to save Hyrule, defeat Ganon and rescue the seven descendants of the Sages. A Link to the Past uses a top-down perspective similar to that of the original The Legend of Zelda. It added mechanics and concepts to the series that have become commonplace, including multi-level dungeons and new equipment (such as the hookshot and the Pegasus Boots), as well as establishing the concept of an alternate, parallel (and sometimes far more dangerous) world. It was well-received since its release, and has been listed by GameSpot as one of the best installments of the series, as well as one of the greatest games of all time. To date, A Link to the Past has sold more than four million copies, and has been re-released for the Game Boy Advance and the Wii’s Virtual Console.
Instead of continuing to use the side-scrolling perspective introduced to the series by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past reverts to an overhead perspective similar to that of the original. Despite using mechanics and concepts from the original, A Link to the Past introduces new elements and innovations. For instance, arrows are now separate items, as bombs are in the original, instead of using a Rupee to fire an arrow. A Link to the Past also takes concepts from The Adventure of Link, such as the magic meter, which is used by items such as the Lamp. Control of Link is more flexible than in previous games, as he can walk diagonally and can run with the aid of the Pegasus Shoes, an obtainable item. Link’s sword attack was improved to swing sideways instead of merely stabbing forward; this gives his sword a broader range and makes combat easier. Link swings his sword as the default attack in future Zelda games, although stabbing is also possible in the later 3D incarnations.
Recurring items and techniques were introduced for the first time in A Link to the Past, such as the Hookshot, the Master Sword, the Spin Attack technique, flute, and the Pegasus Boots. Heart Containers that increase the player’s maximum health (hit points) in the earlier two games are present, but many are split into “Pieces of Heart”, four of which make up one Heart Container. Most of them are well hidden, adding replay value to the game. All dungeons are multi-level, requiring Link to walk between floors and sometimes fall through holes to land on lower levels.
A Link to the Past is the first appearance of what would subsequently become a major Zelda trademark: the existence of two parallel worlds between which the player travels. The first, called the Light World, is the ordinary Hyrule where Link grew up with his uncle. The second is what was once the Sacred Realm, but became the Dark World when Ganon acquired the Triforce. The Dark World is a corrupted version of Hyrule; the water is a dark, unpleasant green color, the grass is dead, skulls replace rocks and pots, and trees have faces. People change forms in the Dark World based on their nature; without an item to prevent it (in this case, the Moon Pearl), Link turns into a pink rabbit. Each location in the Light World corresponds to a similar location in the Dark World, usually with a similar physical structure but an opposite nature (e.g. a desert in the Light World corresponds to a swamp in the Dark World, a peaceful village in the Light World corresponds to a dilapidated town of thieves in the Dark World).
Link can travel from the Dark World to the Light World at almost any outside location by using a magic mirror (and back again from the same location using the portal left where he reappears in the Light World). There are also hidden warp locations throughout the Light World. This enables puzzles that exploit structural differences between the Light and Dark Worlds.
The story in A Link to the Past is roughly what you’d come to expect from the series. Princess Zelda has been kidnapped and, along with several other girls, is going to be used in a ritual that will give an evil wizard supreme power. It’s up to the player, as young Link, to stop the wizard’s insidious scheme, rescuing Zelda in the process. The game features a very large overworld with a town, a desert, a lake, and, of course, tons of dungeons. After the first act, the game opens up even further by adding a “dark side” of the overworld to the mix. You’ll use items to travel back and forth between the normal, light world and the evil, dungeon-filled dark world. Players familiar with the time travel elements in the N64 Zelda game Ocarina of Time will have a basic idea of how this works, as some of the game’s minor puzzles require you to work with objects on both sides.
The entire quest is incredibly well-constructed, with plenty of required tasks and quite a few optional ones, most of which will help you get a larger life meter. The game isn’t exactly long on story, but the existing plot is more than enough to drive you from one dungeon to the next. The early dungeons are pretty straightforward, but as you progress, they become more and more puzzle-filled, forcing you to really think as you try to find the right path through each dungeon’s labyrinthine design. The game’s bosses are also well done, making for some exciting encounters.
This classic Link adventure is seen from the typical top-down perspective. You’ll have access to a map screen and a subscreen where you can manage your inventory and choose from any items you may have collected. Each dungeon contains a new item to add to your repertoire, and eventually you’ll have all the standard Zelda items, including a boomerang, bombs, a bow, a hammer, jars to catch fairies in, the grappling-hook-like hookshot, and more.
As mentioned, there is also an all-new multiplayer game included on the cartridge. The Four Swords opens with a brief intro discussing the legend of a boy split into four pieces by the power of a sword known as the four sword. This sets up the four-player adventure, with each player controlling a different Link on a series of randomly-generated playfields. The levels are, in many ways, a mad dash for rupees, the game’s currency, but along the way you’ll also find a collection of secondary items. You can only carry one secondary item at a time, so you’ll have to decide if you want to, for example, keep your boomerang or trade it in for the ability to jump.
Four Swords puts an equal emphasis on cooperation and competition. You’ll find a lot of blocks and boulders that require all players to help with the pushing and lifting, but you’ll also be able to pick up one of the other Links and throw him out of your way, if you’re so inclined. The game has a handful of boss fights in it as well, and those also benefit from a cooperative spirit. The dungeons scale depending on the number of players, so the game is equally playable by two or four players. Each player is required to have his or her own copy of the cartridge, though. As you progress in A Link to the Past, you’ll unlock additional features in The Four Swords–one such upgrade gives you the master sword’s firepower in the multiplayer game. If you’re surrounded by GBA owners, then The Four Swords is a fantastic addition to an already spectacular package.
|The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past|
|Series||The Legend of Zelda|
|Platform(s)||Game Boy Advance,|
November 21, 1991
Game Boy Advance
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