It’s a bold statement, as well as a highly controversial and subjective one. A Link to the Past is the best video game ever released. I’ll stand by that statement. But what makes a game that is over 20 years old the best game ever?
First, the world it creates is absolutely huge. Hyrule is one of the most iconic places in videogames and is rendered in all its pixelated glory in LttP at the peak of the 2D era. At the time of its release most games were 512 KB, bit LttP had a stunning (for the time) 1MB, and therefore had twice the memory to work with. Developers also were efficient with the Light World/ Dark World concept in that the similar landscapes saved memory.
A Link to the Past also introduced many staples to the franchise. The Master Sword, themed dungeons, Lake Hylia, Cuccos defending themselves, pieces of heart, and THE HOOKSHOT!!!
The music and atmosphere was also groundbreaking. Just watch the first 5 minutes of this playthrough on youtube.
Or when you get the Master Sword:
Granted, these are nowhere near the quality of cutscenes that modern games have, but for an era including Mortal Kombat, Contra III, and Final Fantasy V, That’s not too shabby. The music of LttP is also stellar. Just check out some of these mp3 files: http://www.zeldauniverse.net/media/music/a-link-to-the-past-original-soundtrack/ The initial bait-and-switch of “Go get these 3 pendants of Courage, Power, and Wisdom, then go to the castle.” “JUST KIDDING YOU’RE TOO LATE!” “Go through these 8 more dungeons! HAHAHAHAHAHhahahahahahaha!”
A Link to the Past also rewards you for exploration. There are 34 heart pieces giving you six extra hearts that are entirely optional to get. then there are the Bombos, Ether, and Quake medallions which are screen clearing overkill weapons. Or Chris Houlihan’s room. I could go on: The Golden Bee, Double magic power from the tombstone near the blacksmiths, Using Ether to show invisible floors, Th e Cane of Byrna, and many more.
There is also the longevity of the game. It has been released on the SNES, Game Boy Advance, Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles, and had its own sequel, A Link Between Worlds. That’s a lot of milking of one cow from Nintendo. Crisp gameplay is also a strong point. The mechanics are fluid and easy to pick up but surprisingly difficult to master, especially against some absolutely infuriating bosses: looking at you Moldorm.
And of course, nostalgia has a role as well. LttP is one of the first games I remember getting frustrated with. Other than Excite Bike, it was my first experience playing a single player game. I remember my older brother, MIPCaboose, calling the Nintendo Power Line for help.
It is also the first game I remember beating, The first game i completed 100%, on my own by exploring I might add, and I play it again every couple years.
I’ll leave with Three more youtube videos: the US and Japanese commercials and a 30 minute rant about how good LttP is.
WARNING: Has some NSFW language
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