It’s important to know what this game is, and what it isn’t. It isn’t a DS Zelda game starring Toon Link. It doesn’t bother with any stylus or badly executed split-screen shenanigans. I use my thumb to access the menus and I hold the 3DS like a handheld is intended to be for action-adventure games.
It isn’t a remake of A Link to the Past. It’s far more accurate to say that this shares the general maps of that game to create an experience that both rewards you for your intimate knowledge of them and consistently challenges your expectations in the same satisfying way as Maverick Hunter X.
The main gimmick on display is the ability to merge into walls, making Link 2D while the camera rotates down and to the side, presenting the world in 3D. Popping in and out can be disorienting but my adjustment period was remarkably brief. Thank goodness, as the mechanic is used EXTENSIVELY and never grows stale.
Outside of one dungeon, the ones on display can legitimately be tackled in any order. You could play the Dark World somewhat out of order in LttP, and if you were alright with finding out halfway through one that you were missing an essential item you were free to do so in the original game, as well. Here, however, the dungeons are marked with runes at their entrances denoting which items are required for successful completion. You can first rent and then later buy many of the series’ staple items at a central shop and this is what makes true freedom of play possible.
I’m always going to tackle the Swamp Palace second, but in both of my playthroughs I’ve gone wildly out of order, otherwise. The biggest boon of A Link Between Worlds is manifest here: instead of literal carbon-copy maidens, the sages are legitimate characters a la the 3D Zelda games. I care about saving them and the order in which I will.
There are a few negatives, however. The analog stick makes aiming the hookshot a bit hairy, but that very imprecision is harnessed for appropriate balancing sections, to compensate. The game tells you that you should take a break occasionally when you save, too.
Petty bullshit complaints, I know. Bottom line: LBW remixes and updates LttP while introducing the most crucial element of 3D Zeldas to the 2D plane. The best 2D Zelda by countless miles, sanjou~
Buyer’s Guide: It’s a 3DS exclusive.
4 Tsundere Witches Stole My Heart out of 5
I do not have binocular fusion and are thus incapable of experiencing 3D.
Don't ask me how it looks here, or in any other 3DS game.