Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Replaying A Link Between Worlds

With the announcement of TriForce Heroes I decided to play through A Link Between Worlds again for the first time since release. I still had an empty cartridge of the game around, which wanted to be filled with complete savegames. And with the New Nintendo 3DS XL and its easy to push Start button, I might even give the Cucco Run 999.99 seconds challenge a second try after all this time.

But in any case A Link Between Worlds is a Zelda game with good replay value. It's a short Zelda game, you might not even need 10 hours for the core, it took me around 15 hours to complete everything again including StreetPass medals. So, you can essentially beat this in one weekend and with that it's easy to pick up, even if you don't have too much time. But what makes replaying A Link Between Worlds so interesting, are all the options. What items to buy first, the order of dungeons, exploring all the areas. It's for sure the most non-linear Zelda experience.

Dungeon Order

While the game is quite non-linear, you have to force yourself to play things really out of order and not fall into a certain pattern. I guess most people play either Thieves' Hideout or the Swamp Palace first, simply because they are in the area and they give you good benefits with the Blue Mail and the Sand Rod, where the latter lets you get the Titan's Mitt next, which is like the one big item that you can't really early. Turtle Rock and Ice Ruins are probably played last, because they are the more difficult ones. And dungeons like the Dark Palace and Skull Woods end up in the middle. This order makes especially sense in Hero Mode, where you want to keep things easy enough.

But since I had to play through the normal game again to unlock Hero Mode (as I said, this was an untouched cartridge version), I decided to mix things up and go for the hard stuff first. So, I started with the Ice Ruins and then continued with Turtle Rock. When I originally played the game for the first time, the Ice Ruins were my second dungeon and provided a great challenge, so I wanted to re-experience that. And it can be tough, you can't block any of the Ice Wizzrobe attacks without the Hylian Shield and you take some good damage without the Blue Mail. For the boss Dharkstare I actually needed two fairies, though I don't have any practice here (it's a shame that this game never got a Boss Battle mode).

I played Thieves' Town next, because I wanted to play the Desert Temple without upgrading the Sand Rod before. I've never done that before, but this time I forced myself by upgrading all other items first. I wanted to see, if this adds any challenge, but it was only really noticeable with the boss Zaganaga, where the sand walls would disappear while attacking the creature. I played the Swamp Palace last, so that I wouldn't profit too much from the advantage of the Blue Mail. That way I stayed a little closer to Hero Mode.

My least favorite dungeon is probably Skull Woods by the way. In general the dungeons feel weak when compared to their counterparts in A Link to the Past, especially with the enemies, but at least most of the dungeons in A Link Between Worlds have a great feel to them and unique ideas. Skull Woods is just a complete disappointment though. The original Skull Woods had this really good idea of a dungeon with multiple exits. Now here they streamlined this so much that it almost seems to be linear... and the dungeon feels very empty, when compared to the original.

Ravio's Shop

In general buying and upgrading all the items had a very natural flow to it, while replaying the game. It's very well balanced, the amount of Rupees, which I got to buy the items in Ravio's shop, perfectly matched the numbers of Maiamais I had already gathered. So, I would always buy the items to upgrade them immediately. And I've never ground for Rupees, I just explored and got all the chests in dungeons.

The main issue with the item shop though is that you can just rent them all at once in the beginning. You have more than enough money for it and suddenly you can go everywhere and take everything, the only exceptions being things and paths, where you need the Sand Rod and Titan's Mitt. A better system would have you get one item after another, but then you would have the problem of making the wrong choice, where you can't make any progress, until you get enough Rupees to effort another item. So, the rental shop certainly won't have any future in Zelda games, but it was interesting to have it one game. It also adds to the most powerful start in any Zelda game, it can be exciting to get so many items at once.


I also replayed the StreetPass battles and got all 50 medals again. I love this feature, I'm really looking forward to the Coliseum Mode in TriForce Heroes, if it's anything like it. It's just so much fun and I hope they keep the Zelda II music, maybe even remaster some more tracks from the game, like the battle music or the song of the Great Palace. I also hope that the Coliseum Mode will have challenges again, because it can be a lot of fun to collect the medals. Since it has been a while, I even looked up my StreetPass guide. It's a nice moment, when past-you can teach you something. If it can help me, I know for certain that my guide is really helpful.

Anyway... with a third Nintendo 3DS at hand and playing the game on a cartridge, I tried to optimize the strategy of StreetPassing myself to the fullest. I can switch the cartridge around all systems and accumulate 18 Shadow Links with a single StreetPass meeting. With that many you can easily complete all the StreetPass challenges in a single day. However, it seems like it doesn't add any signs onto the meadow, if you haven't played the savegame on that system before, so you have to setup StreetPass again at first, before it loads the Shadow Links.

Of course HomePass would be the best option, but I have yet to set this up and doing it on my own has the advantage that I can create cheap Shadow Links with a bounty of 50, no shield or items for some easy kills, which is very helpful with some of the tougher challenges.

But in general I like, how the StreetPass feature adds some afterplay to the game. You keep returning to the game and go over all of Hyrule and Lorule for the Shadow Links. It's a good feature, which keeps the game alive a lot longer than any other Zelda game.

Rupee Rush

This is the best and most addicting minigame in the entire Zelda series. Period. Like the Shadow Link battles this never gets old. My current records are 342 Rupees in Hyrule and still 993 Rupees in Lorule.

Hero Mode

I've only started the file to setup StreetPass here, but I haven't really replayed Hero Mode yet. I will save that for later this year, when we're getting close to the release of TriForce Heroes. With a fresh experience of A Link Between Worlds I can make better comparisons between the games.


Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Wow! I'd finished the game last year, and was just now feeling that urge to replay it this week.

Of course, with Ocarina's re-relase on the Wii U, that's going to wait. I've also yet to catch a couple of boss fishes on Majora 3D, as well as playing through Wind Waker's blue pajama 2nd quest and trying the game's Hero Mode.

TourianTourist said...

I've also still have to play the Wind Waker HD's 2nd Quest. I saved that for whenever I get an HD TV, currently I'm still playing with the GamePad only. I will move to a new city later this year and then probably get a new TV afterwards. And as soon as I have one, the Wind Waker HD will be the first game to return to.

I also started playing the Oracle games on the 3DS two years ago, where I need to finish the linked quests. And I will also get Ocarina of Time on the Wii U VC, since it's only 1.99€ for me, however, I probably would play through Ocarina of Time 3D instead.

So, there's plenty of replaying Zelda games for me. :D

K2L said...

Dang, I have to return to Zelda altogether. Last time I played was in 2013....