Why I Love… Is a series of articles that aren’t really reviews, despite being in the review category. They are love letters to some of our favourite games in our lives and why they are special to us. It’s a big reminisce-fest to be honest. Enjoy and maybe share some of your memories of the game.
A Link to the Past is a special game for me as it holds my strongest earliest gaming memory. I don’t know exactly how old I was but I must have been around four years old. I vividly remember walking into my local GAME shop in the shopping centre near my home. I walked in with my parents and, for some unknown reason, they allowed me to choose any Super Nintendo game I wanted.
Back in the day games were way more expensive compared to today, so it reall was such a dangerous thing to do, God forbid I chose a terrible game! Thankfully for everyone concerned, my eyes were instantly drawn to one box and one box only. It was gold, had a sword and shield and had the letter Z emblazoned all over it. And as every child knows, Z’s are cool.
I think even my 4 year old self noticed the sense of relief on my Dad’s face as I handed him the box, for what would be my first gaming purchase. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered the first time I inserted the cartridge, or playing it for the first time, but I don’t. My memory is stupidly selective and awful. But A Link to the Past was a game that stuck with me for most of my childhood.
For me, A Link to the Past really taught me what a computer game could be. Sure, I enjoyed playing Super Mario World/All-Stars, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero and so on. But none of them taught me the scope computer games could reach like Zelda did.
Many people reference the original Legend of Zelda as the first video game that truly felt like an adventure. Well, A Link to the Past was mine. It was a world that really felt alive, felt like it could be a real place.
I wasn’t particularly good at such a young age so at times when I couldn’t figure what to do, or lacked the skill to the game allowed me to just wander around and do my own thing, create my own adventure. I’d never experienced anything like that before. I ended up talking to people in Kakariko making up my own dialogue, kind of like we did with toys and action figures. I would think of so many different scenarios such as being the town guard, the troublemaker or even just the gardener. I mean come on, with the amount of bushes we slashed, we might have well have been!
It was even just the simple things that amazed me and got me more excited than any game had done before like the part where you find the fairy who will upgrade your weapons if you throw them into the pool. Throwing the boomerang and shield in for the first time was such a moment of discovery for me. Having these cool, red, upgraded gear was more than I could have imagined being able to do. Of course, after throwing the boomerang in, I proceeded to throw even thing I could get my hands on just to try. I think I tried with the bow multiple times, I wanted a golden bow damn it!
The items were so fun to use, the animation and sound effects were just so perfect and satisfying. The hammer, boomerang, ice wand were all unbelievably cool. The music will also be forever ingrained in my head, especially the overworld theme and one of my favourite songs of all time, Kakariko Village, which whenever I hear it, it brings a tidal wave of memories.
The dungeons were never really the focus of my attention when I was so young. I more often than not just ended up stumbling into them rather than seeking them out. I failed a lot. But I don’t think there was anything quite as exhilarating as finding a new weapon or tool to wield against the enemies. I think I almost shit my pants when I acquired the bow and arrows. The new items were what the dungeons were all about for me. I didn’t care about the bosses, the puzzles or the challenge. I just wanted to see what I could wield next.
I think I was kinda scared by the dungeons. I really felt like I was in danger. I could imagine myself in Link’s position. Overall, A Link to the Past was actually was a little scary for me. I loved the overworld, but the dungeons and especially the creepy and distorted Dark World, they were places I had to pluck up the courage to enter.
It was only until I became older that I began to appreciate the mechanics of the game and just admire how the structure of a video game could be perfected so early on. It’s just brilliantly crafted. The ingenious relationship between the Light World and Dark World is still a joy to discover even to this day. While the original Zelda started it all, it was A Link to the Past that really set the series’ foundations. So many of the series’ tropes that started in this game have made there way into almost every iteration since. Things like Kakariko village, parallel worlds, items such as the hookshot, even the spin attack.
I was lucky to have played many games in my childhood, most of them came and went and barely even registered on me. For example, it wasn’t until recently I saw Stunt Race FX and suddenly it clicked that I’d actually played that as a kid. Even though up until then I didn’t remember it. And not long ago, I’d forgotten my Dad once had a Sega Saturn that I used to play Virtua Fighter on amongst other games. But A Link to the Past is a game that will stick with me for the rest of my life, remembering those countless times I used the Pegasus Boots to slam into walls, or running away from angry chickens, or using the magic hammer to pretend I was an actual blacksmith.
A couple of years ago, it finally got a sequel: A Link Between Worlds, which while not as good as the original, it definitely did it proud and instantly became one of my favourite 3DS games. I even completed it twice, which as I’m getting older, is almost unheard of. The second time was even a 100% run. It’s a must own for 3DS owners, but you must play the original first.
A Link to the Past is one of my favourite games of all time, and I don’t think too many people would argue with that statement. There are very few games that can give me such nostalgia, provide so many warm memories. Some may speak out about it being overrated and you’re welcome to that opinion, but you really can’t take away what A Link to the Past means to me.