Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Link to the Past (New 3DS VC Review)

A Link to the Past logo next to the Hylian Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL

This review was originally published on ZeldaChronicles (formerly known as ZeldaEurope) and got translated for this blog in 2022 by the same author. Nintendo had provided a download code.

Since this month the Virtual Console on the New Nintendo 3DS offers a selection of Super Nintendo games, which includes The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. And after completing the classic on the new Nintendo handheld it's time to offer a summary whether it's worth it or not.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is without a doubt a must-have title for the Nintendo 3DS. And its success doesn't come from nowhere, where the Zelda classic A Link to the Past was used as a basis. A Link to the Past also laid the foundation stones for many things Zelda. The Master Sword, cutting grass, dashing into trees, enraging Cuccos – all these are staples in the series, which have their origins in the SNES game.

22 years later A Link Between Worlds returned to game world from the Super Nintendo and revived it in fantastic 3D. Now, owners of a New Nintendo 3DS have the opportunity to experience the origins of A Link Between Worlds and compare both games hand in hand on the handheld. This should be especially interesting to those who have played A Link Between Worlds, but not yet A Link to the Past.

Owners of a normal Nintendo 3DS or a Nintendo 2DS will be disappointed that this isn't available to them at all. But this should be a similar case to GameBoy Advance games, which were part of the Ambassador Program, where it wasn't possible to switch into the Home Menu and use the Miiverse for example. With paid-for games there should be a certain comfort and this was seemingly only possible with the New Nintendo 3DS.

Speaking of the GameBoy Advance, this actually isn't the first time that A Link to the Past was available on a handheld, where it shared a cartridge together with Four Swords. This version seems to be lost in time, really, where next to the Riddle Quest and the Palace of the Four Sword it offered many small improvements, which are easily missed here. For example, you were able to break pots with your sword and the save system was just better.

The latter isn't really as important on the Virtual Console, of course, since you can create Restore Points at any point, like right before a powerful boss. So, it comes with the typical Virtual Console features. Like with all Virtual Console titles on the Nintendo 3DS, however, there is no way of changing the controls, but in the least there is now an option to change the resolution. Previously this was only possible by holding down the Start or Select button while starting the games, if you wanted to play in the smaller, but sharper original resolutions.

screenshot of the sharp resolution in the cave with the Maimai creature

And not only does it look sharp, it also feels faster – for a good reason. At least in Europe. For the first time ever the Virtual Console actually makes use of the 60Hz NTSC versions, which previously were only available in North America. The PAL versions, as offered on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles in Europe, only had the 50Hz. The difference is that the PAL versions ran about 17% slower to make them compatible with the 50Hz TVs at the time. This may not be a big deal for games like Zelda, but it's certainly of note in something like F-Zero and can be quite important. There were even petitions that Nintendo of Europe should offer the 60Hz versions on the Virtual Console.

It seems that Nintendo was listening, but there is a catch: the game only comes with the English screen texts, but not German or French. For some this may even be an additional reason to buy this (in Germany the game was only available in German on Wii and Wii U), but if you prefer the other translations, then this won't offer them. Ideally, there would be options here which version you want to play, but options never were Nintendo's strong suit.

And of course a remake of A Link to the Past in the same style and engine as A Link Between Worlds would have been preferable overall. But you can't have everything and this will have to make do, where it offers an interesting alternative to what we already have on Wii and Wii U.

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