Preview: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 2
Some legends are just too big to be told in one story. Some legends are so complex that it takes years just to understand its fundamentals. The Legend of Zelda is such a legend. Many games already told us fragments of the legend and its hero, but it’s far from complete. Last week, Nintendo announced a new entry in the franchise, releasing exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. Gaming Boulevard had the opportunity to check out the playable demo of this beautiful new legend.
Not much is known about this 3DS Zelda game. It’s said to be the direct sequel of the SNES version of A Link to the Past and therefore is set in the same world. No official name was given just yet, so let’s just call it A Link to the Past 2 for this moment. The demo that Nintendo delivered didn’t include the open Hyrule fields but was all about a 13 floor high tower filled with danger.
The first thing you’ll notice when entering the tower is of course the new style of the graphics. Link to the Past 2 stays loyal to its ancestor and is played in a top-down view but uses 3D models rather than sprites. The 3D effect of the Nintendo handheld makes sure that the action is right in your face and pops out of the screen during more intense moments. It’s a colorful and fresh looking game with a nice little retro touch to it. The style can be compared with that of Minish Cap, but everything looks brighter and more sharp this time.
Aside from the graphics, the next important thing is without a doubt the gameplay. How does this Zelda play? When you played a Zelda game before, you’ll know what to do the minute you pick up Link to the Past 2. The game plays the same was as previous Zelda games and stays true to the familiar button lay-out. Unlike the Nintendo DS games, this one is played with the circle-pad and doesn’t use the touchscreen to navigate. You control the game the same way you would do on a console and it feels very natural. The circle-pad makes sure that you can navigate Link in any direction you want without struggling with your touchscreen. On the touchscreen you can look at a handy map or place your items in one of the slots.
The tower demonstrated some familiar and typical Zelda gameplay like turning on/off switches in order to find the small key or some rupees. The puzzles in this demo version weren’t that hard to solve but were from that typical Zelda quality we all know and love. The demo featured different colored switches to activate as well as some light and dark ones. Activating them in the right order or at the right time, gained you access to inaccessible levels. New in this game is the ability to merge into walls, creating a whole new kind of puzzle.
Merging into walls grants you the power to transform yourself into a wall painting. By pushing the A-button next to a wall, Link will transform in a flat painting on the wall. He can only move from left to right and won’t be able to go up or down on the wall. This special power can be activated to slip through iron bars or to save you from falling when a brick wall blocks your way while on a moving platform.
The triforce is strong in this one.
How Link learned this technique wasn’t explained at any point in the demo but it was clear that this power plays a very important role in the game. Changing the vivid 3D world into a sketchy 2D wall painting is a bold move, but definitely adds an extra layer to the gameplay. Not only does this open up ways never done before in a Zelda games, it also creates an opportunity for very unique in-game puzzles.
Aside from this new gameplay element, the demo was a rather trip down memory lane. Link used three of his most famous weapons, namely his sword and shield, bow and magic hammer. To use the hammer and bow you’ll have to be sure that the magic meter on the left side was filled. When the meter wasn’t filled properly, you couldn’t attack with these items. The bar filled automatically once it was drained. You’ll also need this magic meter in order to transform into a painting on the wall.
The hammer could be used to flip over shielded enemies or to activate a new type of ‘jumping platform’. By hitting it, the face like button would drop to the ground just to pop up and launch you to higher grounds when it bounced back into place. This resulted in a new way of reaching platforms and a joy for the eye when the 3D effect was turned on.
The 13 floors were filled with recognizable characters like the Stalfos and the dangerous boss Moldorm. Enemies and puzzles all felt familiar and yet very new. It didn’t show the full potential of the game just yet but it delivered a reassuring feeling. This is a Zelda game as they all should be. No useless gimmicks this time, the innovation really adds something to the gameplay. The tower demo felt a little like a rehearsal you already did twice but felt fresh and new at the same time. It’s definitely a game to keep a close eye on and we’re thrilled to play the game again in a later stadium of development. The Triforce is strong in this one.