Another ‘Zelda’ anniversary: ‘A Link to the Past’ at 15 (and 26) years old
Nintendo has a knack for boosting handheld console fortunes with a well-timed remaster.
When the Nintendo 3DS was struggling to find its feet, it brought back 1998’s “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”
A 2011 remastering, “Ocarina of Time 3D” reignited interest in the clamshell handheld console, saving it from ignominy.
But it was not the first time that one of Nintendo’s back catalogue gems had been resurrected as a more portable experience.
In 1991, Super Nintendo title “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” made an indelible mark on gaming history.
Enthusiastically praised upon its initial launch, “A Link to the Past” was then remade and re-released for the Game Boy Advance some 15 years ago, on Dec. 2, 2002.
By that point, the GBA was already in rude health.
It had survived the transition from the vertical soap-bar form factor of its Game Boy ancestor to a horizontally-held landscape look.
“Mario Kart: Super Circuit”, two “Super Mario Advance” games, “Wario Land 4” and “Golden Sun” were already hits, with “Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire” debuting just a month before.
Nevertheless, “A Link to the Past” is still referred to as one of the GBA’s best games, despite being overshadowed by its older and more famous Super NES sibling.
On GBA, and in a first for the “Zelda” franchise, it also included a multiplayer game, “The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords”.
Though it was received more as novelty than revolution, it paved the way for well-rated prequel “The Minish Cap”, years later offered as an incentive for early adopters of the 3DS.
Fast forward to 2017 and “Link to the Past”, third in the “Zelda” series, is the third franchise celebrating an anniversary this year after “Zelda II” turned 30 in January and “Phantom Hourglass” passed 10 in June.
Nintendo is supporting its newest console by re-releasing “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” just eight months after a spectacular debut.
A launch title for the home and portable Switch console, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” was met by a resounding chorus of critical praise, placing it in the same elevated category as “A Link to the Past” and “Ocarina of Time”.
And, for the Switch’s first holiday season push, “Breath of the Wild” has already been repackaged in a Nov. 27 Explorer’s Edition.
Especially oriented towards those buying a Switch after the initial early-2017 rush, it contains a two-sided map and a guide book designed to ease newcomers into the world of Hyrule.
“The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” can be played on the original Super NES and Game Boy Advance from a cartridge, downloaded from the Nintendo eShop for Wii, Wii U and the New Nintendo 3DS, or as one of the built-in games on the 2017 Super NES Classic Edition. JB
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