Review: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS)

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo 3DS 2,306 views 2 likes 28 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Dec 23, 2013
I was initially hyped that Nintendo was interested in creating a new entry regarding the popular Link to the Past title, and naturally the moment it got released, I was very eager to pop the game in to relive that classic feeling. The Legend of Zelda games have always been favorites, and I was interested in trying out some of the new mechanics to see how they would mesh and execute.
Dec 23, 2013
  • Release Date (NA): November 22, 2013
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Genres: Role-playing
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to the popular title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The game features several new mechanics, one of the most notable changes being the idea that the player can rent or purchase the entire inventory outright at any time. Other mechanics include turning Link into a two dimensional painting, a mechanic that introduces many unique puzzles and twists.
Brandon Boui


The game's story is a little bit more fleshed out than in its predecessor. The story involves following the adventures of Link as he attempts to rescue the sages whom have been stuck in paintings. The tale takes Link between two different worlds, Hyrule and Lorule (for old players of the previous installment, the Dark World). The story takes place several hundred years following A Link to the Past, making this a new Link but still in the same Hyrule, with some slight overworld changes.


The music of this title is spectacular, featuring a full-blown orchestra set for each tune. The music is grand and still maintains the sense of familiarity that charmed many a player in the past. Some tunes sound menacing, others sound intense, and some even downright eerie (moving into Lorule through the cracks in the wall, anyone?). The soundtrack is varying in its tunes, and probably one of the better soundtracks for a Nintendo 3DS title.


Nintendo takes the visual capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS and uses them to their full potential. At times the 3D effect has the "popping out" effect and at times it adds a layer of depth to some of the environments, such as caves or actual dungeons. The visual effects are well done and the environment looks fairly realistic, subjectively speaking from a Nintendo console gaming point of view.


Nintendo was able to create all new dungeons for their games, while still maintaining the feel of A Link to the Past. By doing so, Nintendo has made a fresh game while still maintaining the root of its predecessor. A lot of the dungeons and mini-dungeons spread through the overworld are made innovative with the new bracelet mechanic described below.

One major new mechanic is the bracelet, which allows Link to turn into a two dimensional painting and merge with his surroundings. This mechanic opens up plenty of new puzzle mechanics and ideas in how to reach new locations in the overworld. As a tip to players, if you are stuck somewhere, and you have the bracelet already, try thinking outside of the box for a bit and see how you might be able to incorporate the bracelet.

Another major addition to the game was Ravio's shop. This mechanic changes the scope of the game, as it allows much more freedom of exploration once the player reaches a certain point in the game. Ravio is a travelling merchant who ends up setting up shop in Link's rather empty home. The way the shop works early on is that, should the player encounter a dungeon, a few pedestals stating the necessary items were placed, to ease the burden of new players being confused on what items to bring. The player would then head back to shop and rent the item for a pittance, or pay for the item in full at a whopping 800 rupees. While the player can rent the item at a pittance, it becomes a bit risky as, upon death, all acquired rental items are lost, making the investment risky should the player be reckless.

Ravio's Shop in turn creates a sense of free exploration into the overworlds. No longer are players required to tag dungeons in a linear order. Following arrival into Lorule, the player may proceed however they please, and tackle any dungeon in any order.

Some minor changes are presented in the form of a touchscreen map, and a much more efficient method of managing equipment on the touchscreen on the go. Advanced players are able to switch gear in the heat of battle without the need to pause. Other changes include the save windmills scattered all over Hyrule and Lorule which also serve as quick travel points to access the map with ease.

My Personal Thoughts

While I understand the direction that Nintendo wanted to go, I find that the execution of these particular mechanics were poorly implemented. In a generation where it appears gamers need a bit more hand holding, hints of this are apparent in the title, with hint mechanics should the player be lost. The rental mechanic, while admirable in taking the game away from the traditional direction, felt poorly implemented and took away from the exploration of dungeons, which now provided little personal reward save for rupees, which are available in abundance. Taking advantage of some minigames netted me thousands of rupees in a given hour, enough to buy out the entirety of Ravio's Shop upon entry into Lorule. The only real sense of accomplishment was in finding Miaimais and using them to upgrade the weaponry, and even by doing that it felt relatively lackluster as the gear upgrades were only minor improvements in terms of damage, with few exceptions.

Should You Buy It?

As a Zelda fan, I would recommend the title, but as an enthusiast who loves challenges, I would say no. Even Hero Mode felt relatively tasteless as it was more of the same with additional damage implementatation. One of my major killing points was the sense of getting new equipment in dungeons; the mere reward of rupees, which are extremely easy to obtain, made the adventure feel tasteless and bland, compounded that by the time I spent only an hour in the Lorule territory, I had enough rupees to buy out the entirety of Ravio's shop. Having full access to the inventory without having set foot in the dungeons felt rather disappointing, to say the least. For nostalgia-bound fans, this game is a definite must have, which has excellent visuals and music, but for the hardcore believers who worshipped A Link to the Past, this may not be the title you were expecting, even with the addition of some new mechanics and streamlined gameplay.

+ -Excellent visuals
+ -Streamlined mechanics from the previous title
+ -Excellent sound track
+ -More freedom to explore
+ -Wonderful use of new mechanics for new fresh puzzles
- -Renting shop allows access to full inventory extremely early
- -Extremely easy the first time around, Hero Mode rather lackluster
- -Minigames easy to exploit for riches
8 Presentation
The visuals are superb, the music wonderful, with an easy to use interfacing so that new players will not be confused.
7 Gameplay
While the dungeons and puzzles felt fresh, the implementation of the rental shop definitely is a double-edged sword. The mechanics that hindered older players is much more streamlined now though.
6 Lasting Appeal
Gameplay lasts around 24 hours on average, and the addition of Hero Mode is the exact same thing as the regular mode, only with massive damage increases. It generally is the exact same adventure though.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
The game is definitely worthy of a seat in the Nintendo 3DS library, but for hardcore fans of the Legend of Zelda franchise, this game may come up short. While it is excellent for a handheld title, it definitely lacks and the addition of new features both helped the game and hurt it as a whole. Overall, the game took a few steps forward, but it took several more steps backward. In comparing this game to A Link to the Past, it could definitely be seen as a successor, but a relatively weak one.
bradzx and frown like this.

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