New Legend of Zelda game is a nostalgic hit for fans of the franchise

Steve Dinneen
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Four Stars

ASK any gamer of a certain age – between around 25 and 45 – what their favourite title is, and I reckon you have about a 30 per cent chance of them naming one of the Legend of Zelda series. Nintendo – specifically its chief designer Shigeru Miyamoto – changed the face of the industry with this beautifully crafted, emotionally engaging and fiendishly challenging series.

Given its current slump in fortunes, though, Nintendo has come to rely ever more heavily on this key franchise.

So the arrival of a new iteration in time for Christmas is unsurprising. More surprising is the form it takes. A Link Between worlds is a reimagination of the classic Super Nintendo game A Link to the Past. The gameplay is identical, as is the world in which your adventure takes place (on the face of it, at least). You even wake up in the same house I remember waking up in when I played the game as a 10-year-old. There is no fancy new-gen interface; dialogue comes in the form of decidedly retro on-screen text.

You soon discover, though, that the “tweaks” to the gameplay render this an entirely new experience, albeit one with a decidedly nostalgic air (and the same dead-pan, self-referential sense of humour: “You should save here, whatever that means. Don’t ask me, I’m just a kid...”).

The dungeons you fight your way through are completely new and there is a good balance between fresh and familiar faces. The key addition is the ability to transform yourself into a 2D painting, which has the handy ability of being able to shimmy across walls. This adds a whole new element to exploring the landscape. Couple this with the inevitable emotional engagement you form with the charismatic pixelated characters and you have a hit on your hands.

Fans will lap this up, although inevitable accusations will be made that re-hashing a previous hit is further evidence of Nintendo running out of creative steam.

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