Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series is practically mythical at this point.
It was created by the same team that created Super Mario Bros, and is nearly as ubiquitous in gaming culture.
The latest game in the series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, was recently released for Nintendo’s 3DS system. A Link Between Worlds is a direct sequel to the 1992 Super Nintendo game A Link to the Past, and if you’ve played that game, you’ll immediately recognize the world this game takes place in. The land of Hyrule is nearly identical between the two games. The game doesn’t assume you are familiar, but rewards you if you are.
Zelda games traditionally are all about puzzle solving, and I’ve found the puzzles in this game to be some of the most challenging I’ve played, but not so challenging as to become frustrating. The level design is clever, and often takes advantage of the 3DS’s stereoscopic 3D feature.
Where this game differs from most Zelda games is that, instead of having to work through dungeons in order to collect the right tools you need to complete the puzzles, you have access to nearly the full arsenal from the very start, and can move through the stages in whatever order you discover them in. Additionally, instead of having to walk back and forth across the large world in this game, you can choose to instantly travel to any save point you’ve previously visited.
These new features make many tasks common in Zelda games far less monotonous.
The perfection of the gameplay could be criticized by some as Nintendo simply walking a victory lap and not really taking any risks with the formula - this is the 17th Zelda game, after all. But rather than a rehash of old ideas, I consider it a distillation. This game takes everything that makes Zelda games fun and challenging, and removes all the tedium.
What is left is a pure result, and a worthy sequel to a legendary game.