It feels a bit weird we haven’t looked at A Link to the Past before here on Professional Moron. One of the SNES’ great masterpieces, and still arguably the greatest Zelda title of the lot, this 1991 stunner pretty much cements the SNES as one of (if not the) greatest games console of them all.
A Link to the Past
Sure, we have the almighty masterpiece that is Breath of the Wild (2017). But there’s something truly special about this the SNES’ only Zelda title. With Takashi Tezuka and the legendary creative genius Shigeru Miyamoto at the helm, the step up from Zelda’s landmark 1986 NES outing was always going to be enormous.
Whilst the first Legend of Zelda outing rocked the gaming industry to its core (introducing non-linear gameplay and a save feature – for the first time!), you can see how rather primitive it all looks now.
Nintendo took full advantage of what the SNES could do, planning out a grand scale adventure with intricate dungeons for players to explore. The heart of the Zelda games is that open world sense of exploration – inspired by Miyamoto’s childhood experiences in Japan – and the SNES’ specs enabled this opportunity.
For many gamers, the A Link to the Past’s opening 20 minutes are legendary. Few openings to a game are as memorable – the pouring rain, the night setting, and the rush out of your bed into the wilderness. Then, ****! It’s a castle… and you just bust your way in, sneekily.
That glorious opening section is imprinted in our brains. This is, in part, due to some issue with the SNES cartridge we had. Weirdly enough, our version back in the day had a memory issue. So we couldn’t save the game. Ever. We just had to keep replaying it over and over.
Did we mind? Not a jot! The glorious flow to A Link to the Past is really quite mesmerising. As you guide the protagonist Link on his adventure to help Princess Zelda and save Hyrule, by the time you complete the first ingenious dungeon you know this is something special.
It’s whilst playing through the Eastern Palace that we realised how brilliant the game is. The thoughtful, clever, and complex nature of the dungeon just has the most wonderful flow to it – almost intuitive. You glide through it hypnotically and it sets the scene perfectly for the rest of your adventure.
Is A Link to the Past the best SNES game? It’s debatable. Many gamers would certainly say yes, but there’s some exceptional competition there. It is, unquestionably, one of the very best – an intelligent, engaging, and daring adventure that challenges you, but offers great rewards.
If you want to play it, well you can get yourself a SNES Classic Mini for a start. Or buy an old SNES off eBay. Or you can get a Wii or Wii U and pick it up off the eShop (we think you can still do that). It’ll probably make it to the Nintendo Switch eventually, too! And it’s a must. A total classic.
The ever excellent Angry Video Game Nerd hails A Link to the Past as his favourite game of all time. Excellent choice! James & Mike Mondays always take a foray into some forgotten, or famous, gem from the past – well worth a watch if gaming is your thing.
We’re all set to flag up Mike Matei’s heroic slog through Superman on the N64 next weekend, too. The normally calm and patient Matei is reduced to manic outbursts of rage on numerous occasions. In part one alone, he spends an inordinate amount of time in one astonishingly broken level. Marvellous! Watch this space.