The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the third main installment of The Legend of Zelda series, and the first and only title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1991 in Japan and 1992 in the United States. After the side-scrolling and RPG-like gameplay of The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past was a return to the overhead view and gameplay style of The Legend of Zelda. The game introduced major new items to the series such as the Master Sword, and the concept of two different worlds (Light World and Dark World), which was revisited to an extent in Ocarina of Time with two separate time periods rather than dark and light worlds. A Link to the Past was re-released in 2002, on the Game Boy Advance, sharing a new game called Four Swords.
The Imprisoning War
One day, a band of evil thieves managed to open the gateway to the Sacred Realm, where the mystical Triforce was hidden. Upon finding the sacred golden relic, the leader of the thieves, Ganondorf, slew his followers and claimed it as his own. Before long, dark power began to flow forth from the Sacred Realm. People were drawn into this darkness, and never heard from again. As a result, the King of Hyrule ordered the seven sages to seal the entrance to the Sacred Realm. A great battle ensued—monsters poured into the Light World from the sacred land and attacked the castle. The Knights of Hyrule defended the sages during the great battle against evil, and, though most of them perished in the struggle, the sages were able to cast their Seal, stopping the flow of darkness and trapping the evil king Ganon within. This battle became known as the Imprisoning War.
Once the conflicts against Ganon had ceased, Hyrule entered a time of peace which lasted for centuries, until one day, when unexplained catastrophes began to occur. Pestilence and drought ravaged the land. Thinking the recent disasters plaguing Hyrule were somehow linked to the sages' seal, the king investigated it, but found it to be intact. Desperate for answers, he offered rewards for anyone who could find the source of Hyrule's troubles.
In response, a stranger named Agahnim appeared as if from nowhere and stayed the catastrophes with mighty magic. As a reward, the king gave him a new position as chief adviser to the throne, and the common folk proclaimed him their hero. Once more, peace appeared to have returned to Hyrule. Yet all was not well. Agahnim began to govern Hyrule in place of the king and abuse his political power as he saw fit. Rumors spread saying that Agahnim planned to kill the king and take the crown for himself, and that strange magical experiments were taking place in the castle tower at night. He cast spells on the soldiers and kidnapped the young maidens descended from the seven Wise Men, using their powers in an attempt to break the seal placed on the Sacred Realm.
The game starts with Link being awakened in the middle of a stormy night by a telepathic plea from Princess Zelda, who tells him that she is being held prisoner in the dungeon of the castle and needs help. Now wide awake, Link finds his uncle with a sword and shield in hand. He tells Link not to leave the house, then sets off for the castle. Link ignores his uncle's warning and follows him, only to arrive at the castle to find him gravely wounded. He gives Link his sword and shield and entrusts him with the fate of Princess Zelda. Link proceeds to rescue Zelda, and the two escape the castle through its sewer system to the sanctuary just north of the castle.
There, the priest tells Link that the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Agahnim was the sacred Master Sword. He then sends him to find the elder, Sahasrahla, who explains that not just anyone could wield the legendary blade, and that a hero must appear from the descendants of the Knights of Hyrule. To prove himself worthy of wielding the Blade of Evil's Bane, Link would need to acquire the three Pendants of Virtue.
After successfully obtaining the pendants and withdrawing the magical sword from its pedestal in the Lost Woods, Zelda calls out to Link yet again, this time warning that soldiers have invaded the sanctuary. Link hurries off to the sanctuary only to find that he was a moment too late, and that the soldiers had already taken Zelda off to Hyrule Castle. Once again, Link hurries to her rescue, and once again arrives too late, as Agahnim was already in the process of sending Princess Zelda to the Dark World to finish his ordeal. Upon completing this ritual, little time was needed before the sages' seal was completely broken. Link goes on to defeat Agahnim, who then also draws him into the Dark World, saying he is not truly defeated, yet.
There, Link is contacted telepathically by Sahasrahla, who tells him that the world he is standing in is actually what was once the Sacred Realm, but it was transformed by Ganon's evil wish to conquer the world to become the Dark World. He then commissions Link with the task of rescuing the 7 imprisoned maidens from the dungeons scattered across the Dark World. Upon freeing them all, Link travels to Ganon's Tower, where the seven maidens use their combined power to dispel the barrier sealing off the entrance. Link proceeds to traverse the tower and then defeat Agahnim a second time, this time killing him for good. Upon his defeat, the spirit of Ganon rises from the body, turns into a bat, and flies off into the Pyramid of Power, where Link and Ganon face off for the final battle. With the power of the Silver Arrows and the Master Sword, Link finally vanquishes Ganon, recovers the Triforce, and by making a wish, reverts the effects of Ganon's evil reign over Hyrule and ultimately restores the land to its former glory.
A Link to the Past retains various gameplay elements from the original NES game, among them the top-view perspective; Link can collect Rupees once more and use items by assigning them to a button, as well as recovering his life energy with hearts. Returning from The Adventure of Link is the ability to use Magic to perform spells and to make special items functional, as well as a major interaction with non-playable characters to obtain vital information regarding the quest.
A returning mechanic from both games is the availability of dungeons, which must be conquered in order to archive success in the adventure. Each dungeon has a map and a compass, the former shows the layout of the dungeon in particular and the latter locates the boss's whereabouts; keys must be collected in order to open locked doors, puzzles must be solved to progress, and enemies must be defeated if they are interrupting the exploration. The dungeons are multi-leveled, ranging in number from two to ten, and Big Keys are needed both to open major chests (containing important items that increase Link's inventory and help him progress through his adventure) and to open boss rooms.
Similar to the bombs in The Legend of Zelda and the magic meter in The Adventure of Link, various items in A Link to the Past can be upgraded either in capacity or by being turned into more advanced versions. This can be done through completing sidequests or entering certain special places. Optional weapons and items are hidden through Hyrule as well.
Light and Dark World
This game introduces a very important mechanic: The Light World/Dark World dichotomy. Light World is simply normal Hyrule, while Dark World is a twisted, desolate, more dangerous parallel version under Ganon's evil reign that was once the Golden Land. The game has actually two maps of Hyrule, which are related to each other in several ways; for example, by switching from the Dark World to the Light World while standing in an apparently empty dead end, Link can find in the latter world a secret cave or a passage that was otherwise inaccessible, leading to secret prizes. By doing the opposite (switching from the Light World to the Dark World), Link can gain access to new dungeons, which is important to the success of the quest. A Link to the Past is praised for cleverly using this gameplay device, which in some ways has been reused in some subsequent Zelda games.
A Link to the Past is also the first title to have a more developed storyline, which reflects for the first time the dungeon's different purposes. The first three house the sacred pendants that give Link access to the Master Sword, the fourth has to do with a failed attempt to rescue Princess Zelda, the next seven dungeons house the imprisoned maidens, who (once freed) help Link break the seal of the final dungeon's entrance. This style of story progression was used in various subsequent Zelda games, among them Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker, although the latter added various twists and subversions to the concept (by adding the Triforce sub-quest, lacking a dungeon for the third pearl, etc.).
The Japanese version of the game is titled ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース (The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods). Nintendo of America changed the name to A Link to the Past due to their censorship guidelines discouraged religious content. Nintendo of Europe used the American name. The Japanese name was translated faithfully in the subsequent Chinese and Korean localizations.
Nintendo of America modified meanings in the game's text for the same reason. Agahnim is a priest in the original Japanese version, but a wizard in the international version. The Cursed Fairy was originally 女神 (Megami). The 教会 (Church) became the Sanctuary and the 神父様 (Priest) became the Loyal Sage. Nintendo of Europe's localizations follow the American one in naming the Fat Fairy, but are inconsistent with respect to the Loyal Sage and the Sanctuary, sometimes favoring the Japanese meaning and other times the American.
In the Japanese version, the Hylian symbols translated by the Book of Mudora are Egyptian hieroglyphs. The symbols are jumbled in the American version. In the Eastern Palace, a symbol within a room contains what appears to be the Star of David in the Japanese version, which was changed to a more generic one internationally
Nintendo of America censored the game's text but did not change its religious visuals. The Sanctuary retains its church pews and stained glass windows. When Link makes a wish to enter Desert Palace, he looks skyward and appears to cross himself before joining his hands together in prayer.
The North American and European versions of the game both use a new logo for the title screen and box art, designed by the Seattle-based Girvin design firm. This logo has been featured with slight variations in every subsequent The Legend of Zelda game in North American and Europe (identical in Link's Awakening), and in the Japanese versions from Ocarina of Time to Tri Force Heroes.
Graphics and Audio
The game made use of the Super NES capabilities to offer more realistic graphics over the NES titles, not only in regards of the areas' textures and colors, but also to add new visual effects, such as the mist and the upper leaves' shadows in Lost Woods, the thunderstorm in the Dark World equivalent of Death Mountain, and so on.
The game's audio retains the overworld tune that debuted in the first Zelda game, although it's only heard while Link is in the Light World; Kakariko Village's theme debuted in this game, Hyrule Castle's background theme, and so as Ganon's theme. Zelda's theme, known as "Zelda's Lullaby" in Ocarina of Time, also makes its first appearance. The Dark World's themes are different in all regards (overworld, dungeons, etc.), meaning that the overall soundtrack of the game is far more diverse than that of the first two titles in the series.
Like its predecessors (and, for that matter, most Zelda games), A Link to the Past is set in the fictional land of Hyrule; notably, the territory of the land is bigger than in the first game, but smaller than in The Adventure of Link.
However, a Dark World counterpart is now included and explorable. In the Light World, familiar zones like Lost Woods and Death Mountain are present, while Kakariko Village and Lake Hylia are introduced here. In the Dark World, every location is different in name and presentation; for example, the Lost Woods is replaced by the Skeleton Forest, Kakariko Village is the Village of Outcasts, and the southwestern desert is the Swamp of Evil. The replacements also affect the dungeons which, instead of housing the Pendants of Virtue, hold captive the maidens who were supposed to break the seal protecting Ganon's Tower.
According to the chronology of The Legend of Zelda series, A Link to the Past is the first title placed in the "Downfall" split timeline. This timeline branch starts with Ganondorf successfully defeating Link in Ocarina of Time and obtaining the complete Triforce. The seven Sages seal him immediately within the Sacred Realm. Years later, greedy people enter the Dark World seeking the Triforce, turning into monsters and becoming part of Ganon's army. In the war that ensues, the Knights of Hyrule protect the Sages from Ganon's minions, while they cast a seal to close off the entrance to the Dark World. Ages later, when Ganon attempts to escape from the Dark World in order to conquer Hyrule, the events of A Link to the Past take place.
According to Encyclopedia, the game's immediate sequel is Link's Awakening, which is eventually followed by Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. The English version of the Encyclopedia states that all four games feature the same Link, while the original Japanese lists the Link in Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages as a separate incarnation. Some time after defeating Ganon at the end of A Link to the Past, Link leaves Hyrule by boat when he is shipwrecked on Koholint Island, leading to the events of Link's Awakening.
Zelda.com originally stated that A Link to the Past was a sequel to Majora's Mask, taking place hundreds of years after the game, though the Link in both games was the same, having returned from Termina and finding that time passed differently between the two worlds.
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A Link to the Past was commercially successful, selling 4.61 million copies worldwide, making it the third best selling game in the series (before the release of Twilight Princess).
A Link to the Past received a near-perfect score of 39/40 from Japanese magazine Famitsu.
Both the Game Boy Advance and the Virtual Console versions of the game gained IGN's and GameSpot's recommendation, with praises in matter of presentation, graphics, sound, gameplay and lasting appeal. Criticism on the GBA version focused on the possibility that Zelda fans, at that time, would complain for the lack of a new game for the handheld console, while the Virtual Console version was recommended only for those who didn't play the game in any of the past releases already.
A Link to the Past is one of the highest-ranked games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and frequently rivals other highly praised Zelda games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess for being the best in the series. Nintendo Power ranked it second in their list of best The Legend of Zelda games, citing the game's improvements over its NES predecessors. Video Game Canon ranks A Link to the Past as one of the best games of all time.
To this day, A Link to the Past remains a major piece of collection for Zelda fans due to its importance in the series and great design. A Link to the Past received critical acclaim from fans of the series, currently holding an average user score of 9.5 on GameSpot, as well as a current reader average score of 9.8 at IGN.
Ports and Remakes
Game Boy Advance
A Link to the Past was ported for the Game Boy Advance in 2002 as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords, introducing Four Swords into the same cartridge, the first multiplayer title of the series. There were numerous alterations to the game, including a more accurate translation, additional shops and enemies, changing Link's voice to that of his child self in Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask, and the addition of a new dungeon and new quest and attack unlocked only by playing through Four Swords.
The original SNES version was also ported to the Wii's Virtual Console on January 22, 2007, and later onto the Wii U Virtual Console on January 30, 2014 and Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console on April 14, 2016. The re-release was virtually unchanged from the original. However, the full, bright screen flashing effect that was used on the title screen, when Agahnim or Vitreous attacks with lightning or when Link uses the Ether Medallion, was toned down significantly, to prevent the effect of epilepsy.
The game's engine and features were used in the later released service, the Satellaview. In 1997, Ancient Stone Tablets was released in Japan via the Satellaview. It was presented as a sequel, seemingly like a unique Second Quest for A Link to the Past.
A Link to the Past itself was also released through the Satellaview; it only has a few minor changes from the original version, such as the save system. Unlike the other Zelda games broadcast over the Satellaview service, it could be downloaded and played at the player's convenience. Officially, the Satellaview port does not have a differentiating title, but fans often refer to the game as BS The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods, despite this prefix being reserved for SoundLink-compatible titles.
The games were released exclusively in Japan. However, fans have translated BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets to English and compiled a fully playable version in a resurrection project.
Super NES Classic Edition
The Super NES Classic Edition includes A Link to the Past as one of the 21 games available.
Nintendo Switch Online
A Link to the Past is included as part of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online software, available to Nintendo Switch Online Subscribers, as one of its 20 launch titles.
Like its predecessors, A Link to the Past introduced many elements that became mainstream for the Zelda franchise, including:
- A Link to the Past is the first game that introduced a different Link, as opposed to The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link prior which featured the same Link (according to Hyrule Historia).
- A Link to the Past is also the first game in the series to include multiple, parallel overworlds.
- The iconic Master Sword debuted in this game, which would become an important and often essential item in Link's quest in almost all later games. Games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess feature it with a similar function and purpose as in the SNES game.
- A Link to the Past introduces the Sages, who would play similar roles in Ocarina of Time and A Link Between Worlds.
- The Dungeons became more thematically distinctive, reflecting different architectures and purposes. Dungeons based on forest, water and ice, for instance, are played for the first time here.
- This is the first game to have Pieces of Heart, leading to more sidequests.
- A Link to the Past was the first game in the series to use the now-standardized The Legend of Zelda logo in western releases. Japan would later use this standardized logo by the release of Ocarina of Time.
- The game introduces Cuccos, as well as the infamous Cucco Revenge Squad, where a flock of Cuccos will attack Link if he attacks one continuously.
- Kakariko Village and Lake Hylia debut in this title.
- This is the first Zelda game where a member of Link's family is shown. The only other games that do this are The Wind Waker and The Minish Cap.
- The notion of Link freeing Maidens from crystal prisons was reused with Princess Zelda in Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword, and with Din in Oracle of Seasons.
- This is the first game to give Moblins their pig-like appearance, which would become a series staple after Ocarina of Time.
- This is the first game where the seemingly main antagonist is actually just a minion of Ganon.
- Many recurring musical themes, such as the Fairy Fountain/file select theme, "Zelda's Lullaby", the Hyrule Castle theme, and Ganon's theme, were first introduced in this game.
- This is the first Zelda game where Link swings his sword horizontally and introduced the Spin Attack.
- With a total of thirteen Dungeons, A Link to the Past has more Dungeons than any other official Zelda game (not including Second Quests.) However, Hyrule Castle is technically two Dungeons.
- The portraits on the walls inside many houses in Kakariko Village, which occasionally dispense Rupees when pulled by Link, appears to be Mario. The theme that plays when soldiers chase Link in the village is actually a remix of the Super Mario Bros. 2 boss theme.
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords, getting the Master Sword will completely restore Link's Life Gauge and Magic Meter.[verification needed]
- The seventh Dark World Dungeon, Turtle Rock, contains Chain Chomps, an enemy from the Super Mario series.
|Names in Other Regions
|This table was generated using translation pages.
To request an addition, please a staff member with a reference.
- BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets
- Chris Houlihan
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Ishinomori)
- Official North American site (GBA Edition)
- Official Japanese site
- Official Japanese site (GBA Edition)
- A Link to the Past page on Zelda.com
- Encyclopedia, Dark Horse Books, pg. 7
- スーパーファミコンアワー番組表 , The Satellaview History Museum, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- Art & Artifacts, Dark Horse Books, pg. 377
- | Games Matrix - Game Boy Advance | , Nintendo Australia (archive), retrieved June 10, 2014.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past , Nintendo Europe, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past , Nintendo of America, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース｜Wii U｜Nintendo , Nintendo Japan, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- 『スーパーマリオワールド』、『ゼルダの伝説 神トラ』などスーパーファミコン用ソフト20タイトルが“Nintendo Switch Online”加入者向けに9月6日より無料配信！【Nintendo Direct 2019.9.5】 , Famitsu, published September 4, 2019, retrieved August 8, 2020.
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- 『오버워치 레전더리 에디션』 『제노블레이드 크로니클스 디피니티브 에디션』 Nintendo Switch 최신작 한국어 대응으로 발매 결정! , Nintendo Korea, published September 5, 2019, retrieved August 8, 2020.
- 《異度神劍 終極版》、《幻影異聞錄#FE Encore》 Nintendo Switch專用最新作將發售並支援中文！ , Nintendo Hong Kong, published September 5, 2019, retrieved August 8, 2020.
- Encyclopedia, Dark Horse Books, pg. 10
- "In a long running battle, the leader of the thieves fought his way past his followers in a lust for the Golden Power. After vanquishing his own followers, the leader stood triumphant over the Triforce and grasped it with his blood- stained hands." (A Link to the Past manual, pg. 5)
- "The Knights took the full brunt of the fierce attack, and although they fought courageously many a brave soul was lost that day, However, their lives were not lost in vain, for they bought precious time for the Seven Wise Men to magically seal Ganon in the Golden land." (A Link to the Past manual, pg. 6)
- "Link, listen carefully. The wizard is magically controlling all the soldiers in the castle." — Princess Zelda (A Link to the Past)
- "A mysterious wizard known as Agahnim came to Hyrule to release the seal. He eliminated the good King of Hyrule... Through evil magic, he began to make descendants of the seven wise men vanish, one after another." — N/A (A Link to the Past)
- "I sense that a mighty evil force guides the wizard's actions and augments his magical power. The only weapon potent enough to defeat the wizard is the legendary Master Sword." — Loyal Sage (A Link to the Past)
- "Link, I am surprised a young man like you is searching for the sword of evil's bane. Not just anyone can use that weapon. Legends say only the Hero who has won the three Pendants can wield the sword." — Sahasrahla (A Link to the Past)
- "Link! You are a second too late. I have failed... Zelda... The soldiers have abducted her. They have taken her to the castle. You must find her before the wizard works his magic." — Loyal Sage (A Link to the Past)
- "Only a short time remains until the gate at the castle linking the worlds opens completely." — Maiden (A Link to the Past)
- "Link, it is I, Sahasrahla. I am communicating to you across the void through telepathy... The place where you now stand was the Golden Land, but evil power turned it into the Dark World." — Sahasrahla (A Link to the Past)
- "Ganon's wish was to conquer the world. That wish changed the Golden Land to the Dark World." — Essence of the Triforce (A Link to the Past)
- "In order to save this half of the world, the Light World, you must win back the Golden Power. You must also rescue the seven maidens who Agahnim sent to the Dark World. As members of the blood-line of the seven wise men, they have power that will surely help you." — Sahasrahla (A Link to the Past)
- Encyclopedia, Dark Horse Books, pg. 19
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past , The Cutting Room Floor, retrieved January 23, 2020.
- "The Legend of Zelda logo design, which we created for Nintendo." — Tim Girvin, Game On | A Legacy Of Gaming Design , Girving.com, published October 21, 2013, retrieved March 1, 2019.
- "Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in—it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time." —Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo Power Vol. 116: Interview with Mr. Miyamoto.)
- RPGamer - Japandemonium - Xenogears vs. Tetris
- The famitsu 40/40 - A Review
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Review for Gamespot (GBA)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Review for Gamespot (VC)
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- Lucas M. Thomas, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Wii review at IGN , IGN.com, published January 22, 2007, retrieved February 2, 2020.
- Nintendo Power no. 248, December 2009, pg. 73
- Video Game Canon
- IGN's Top 100 Games , IGN.com, retrieved February 2, 2020.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past User Reviews for SNES - GameSpot
- IGN: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
- Nintendo Direct 9.4.2019 , YouTube, published September 4, 2019, retrieved September 4, 2019.
- Nintendo Classic Mini Super Famicom - Manuals , Nintendo.
- A Link to the Past manual, pg. Greetings page