Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Replaying A Link to the Past and Ancient Stone Tablets

It's replay time. After replaying Spirit Tracks I thought I should go through some other Zelda games again as well, mainly as a preparation for Skyward Sword and to refresh some memories. My first choice was A Link to the Past, I never really touched my copy of the Virtual Console version and I thought this would be a nice reason to beat this game again. Also, A Link to the Past is turning 20 years old this year and this is my way of celebrating. Unlike Ocarina of Time and Link's Awakening I haven't played this game all too often, so it also refreshed some memories here and there.

But the game is really inviding you to replay it. The start in the Light World is awesome, exploring the areas and getting additional items like bottles, the Magic Shield or the Ice Rod is fun. And the second half of the game is pure and intense dungeon crawling. You can play the dungeons in many orders, which adds to the replay value. For example this time I played Thieves' Town right after finishing the Dark Palace to get the Tempered Sword early. And the classic SNES version still let's you use the Cane of Somaria in the Ice Palace to avoid the massive backtracking before the boss, in the GameBoy Advance version you can't do that anymore. But concerning everything else I actually prefer the GBA version. Primarily because it doesn't count saving as Game Overs and the item menu was handled much nicer with the bottles. And I really miss the additional ninth warp point on top of the hill with the portal that leads to the Turtle Rock dungeon. If you decide to take a break or get some potions, you have to get all the way up on the mountain again...

Well, there isn't much to say about replaying A Link to the Past, except that it's fun. However, after beating the game today I thought I should also play the BS-X add-on Ancient Stone Tablets for a third time. I mean it suits, since it's practically a 2nd Quest for A Link to the Past. And replaying the BS Zeldas after a while is nice, because the BS Zelda team always works on patches and upgrades. So, it adds something to the experience. Since my last playthrough for the BS Zelda tour in 2009 they've added intro and outro sequences for each chapter as well as "sublines" which display the spoken Japanese from the original broadcast in English. That way the game informs you about all important timed events except for the hidden mole and thanks to that the game is actually playable without a guide giving you information about what happens when. There's also some official artwork shown at the end of each chapter and they added a result screen - in the following picture you can see how I performed:

I don't know if this is actually a good score, but I got all hidden treasures in the game as well as more than 12.000 rupees (try to cumulate that much in any other Zelda game :D). But I got hit by enemies 147 times (I'm always so careless...), which got quite some minus points. I never died, however, but that's really hard to do, because the bosses die very fast unlike the original versions in A Link to the Past. If you play both games one after another you really notice the immense differences in the difficulty level between both games. The dungeons in Ancient Stone Tablets are a rush and the bosses get blasted away like nothing. I never used a potion in the entire game. However, the real difficulty is the immense time pressure, completing two dungeons and clearing all sidequests in 50 minutes requires perfect timing. (Luckily in the ROM based version you can easily repeat a chapter if you've missed something, which I had to do for chapter 3.)

I'm not sure which Zelda game I should replay next. But I'm thinking about playing the Wii version of Twilight Princess a second time, it fits the idea of preparing for Skyward Sword the best. However, playing this version of the game always is very confusing for me, because I'm used to the GameCube version. The mirroring gives me a headache, so I'm not sure yet. But in case I play Twilight Princess it would be just fitting to replay Link's Crossbow Training right after that, the games actually have a similar relationship like A Link to the Past and Ancient Stone Tablets...

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