The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
|The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past|
|Designer(s)|| Shigeru Miyamoto (producer)|
Takashi Tezuka (director)
Koji Kondo (sound composer)
|Release date|| Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
April 13, 1992
November 21, 1991
November 24, 1992
March 2, 1997 (first broadcast)
Game Boy Advance
December 2, 2002
March 14, 2003
March 28, 2003
December 6, 2002
Wii Virtual Console
January 22, 2007
December 2, 2006
March 23, 2007
June 10, 2008
Wii U Virtual Console
January 30, 2014
February 12, 2014
December 12, 2013
CERO: All / A
CB: G8+ / PG
|Platform(s)||SNES, Satellaview, GBA, Wii (Virtual Console), Wii U (Virtual Console)|
|Predecessor||Zelda II: The Adventure of Link|
|Successor||The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening|
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the third game in the The Legend of Zelda series, and the first and only one for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. After the side-scrolling and more 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 original. It introduced the concept of two different worlds (one dark, one light), which was revisited to an extent in its console successor Ocarina of Time with two time periods rather than dark and light worlds. A Link to the Past was re-released in 2002, on the Game Boy Advance system, sharing a cartridge with Four Swords.
The Imprisoning War
- Main article: 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 year, 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 remove 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 sages, 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 the night by a telepathic plea from Princess Zelda, who tells him that she is being held prisoner in the dungeon of the castle. Now wide awake, Link finds his uncle with 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 legendary Master Sword. He then sends him to find the elder, Sahasrahla, who explains that not just anyone could wield the Master Sword, and that a hero must appear from the descendants of the Knights of Hyrule. To prove himself worthy of wielding the sacred blade, Link would need to acquire the three Pendants of Virtue.
After successfully obtaining the pendants and withdrawing the blade 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. Upon completing this ritual, little time was needed before the sages' seal was completely broken. Link goes on to defeat Agahnim, who then draws him into the Dark World.
There, Link is contacted telepathically by Sahasrahla, whom tells him that he is standing in what was once the Sacred Realm, but was transformed by Ganon's evil wish to conquer the world. He then commissions Link with the task of rescuing the 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 defeat Agahnim a second time. Upon his defeat, the shadow of Ganon rises from the body, turns into a bat, and flies off to the Pyramid of Power, where Link and Ganon face off. With the power of the Silver Arrows and the Master Sword, Link vanquishes Ganon, recovers the Triforce, and by making a wish, reverts the effects of Ganon's evil reign over Hyrule and 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 items that increase Link's inventory and help him progress through his adventure) and to open boss rooms.
Similar to the bombs in the first NES game and the magic meter in the second game, 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 dichotomy
This game introduces a very important mechanic: The Light World/Dark World dichotomy. 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 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 The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods, which is the English translation of the original Japanese name, Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce. It is said that Nintendo of America changed the name of the game to "A Link to the Past" because they wanted to avoid any references that could be considered religious in the title of the game. For the same reason, parts of the background story were modified as well, for example Agahnim is a priest in the original version, but only a wizard in the English version. The Fat Fairy of the English game is known as a Megami (Goddess) in the Japanese original. Certain locations were renamed as well; the Church in the Japanese version becomes the Sanctuary, and, in a similar change to Agahnim's title, the Priest there becomes a Sage. Likewise, in the Japanese version the text symbols seen in scripts that are translated by the Book of Mudora are based on Egyptian symbols, in the English version they were replaced by random, meaningless figures.
Graphics and Audio
The game made use of the SNES capabilities to offer more realistic graphics, 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 thunders 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 stands on the Light World; Kakariko Village's theme is heard here for the first time, and so is Hyrule Castle's background tune. Zelda's theme, known as "Zelda's Lullaby" in Ocarina of Time, also makes its first appearance in this game. 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, its 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.
In 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.
Also confirmed in Hyrule Historia, the game's immediate sequels are the Oracle games followed by Link's Awakening, all of which feature the same Link. Some time after defeating Ganon at the end of A Link to the Past, Link is transported by the Triforce to Holodrum where Oracle of Seasons takes place. After defeating Onox, Link travels to Labrynna and Oracle of Ages takes place. Link then defeats Ganon in the linked ending of the Oracle games and leaves Labrynna by boat to continue his training in new lands. After completing his training, Link travels back towards Hyrule by boat when he is shipwrecked on Koholint Island and Link's Awakening takes place.
Zelda.com, an official The Legend of Zelda site, 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. This information however, is non-canon.
- Main article: Speedrun Records
|01:36 ||CamelCreator||April 16, 2014||Any%|
|1:24:09 ||Xelna||March 21, 2015||Any% - No major glitches|
|1:43:21 ||Xelna||March 23, 2015||100% - No savewarps, deaths, or out of bounds|
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).
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 versions already.
Even today, A Link to the Past remains as a piece of collection for Zelda for fans, as well as one of the highest-ranked games for the SNES, and frequently rivals 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.
Ports and Remakes
Game Boy Advance
- Main article: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords
A Link to the Past was remade 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 GBA cartridge. There were numerous alterations to the game, including a more accurate translation, additional shops and enemies 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. The game was largely unchanged from the original, however, a full screen flashing effect that is used on the title screen, when Agahnim or Vitreous attacks with lightening or when Link uses the Ether Medallion was toned down significantly, potentially to limit the effect of epilepsy. As a result, it is no longer possible to view invisible walkways when using the Ether magic in the Virtual Console version of the game.
BS-X Broadcasting System
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The game's engine and features were used in the later released service, the BS-X Broadcasting System. In 1997, BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets was released in Japan via the BS-X. It was presented as a sequel, much like a unique Second Quest for A Link to the Past.
A Link to the Past itself was also released through the BS-X; 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 BS-X 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 based on the BS Zelda Homepage.
Like its predecessors, A Link to the Past introduced elements that became mainstream for the Zelda franchise, including:
- The Master Sword. Games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess featured it with a similar function and purpose as in the SNES game.
- 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 where Pieces of Heart are shown, leading to more sidequests (assuming they existed at all in the NES titles).
- A Link to the Past was the first game in the series to use the now standardized Zelda logo in American releases. Japan would later use this standardized logo by the release of Ocarina of Time.
- This game introduces the 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.
- With a total of twelve dungeons, A Link to the Past had more dungeons than any other official Zelda game until the release of A Link Between Worlds, which also has twelve dungeons. This excludes a Linked Game of the Oracle Series, which has seventeen dungeons.
- The bronze plates on the walls of inside the houses in Kakariko Village, which occasionally dispense Rupees when pulled by Link, strongly resemble Mario.
The Triforce in the Golden Land
Link receiving Princess Zelda's cry for help
Link leading Princess Zelda through the Sewer Passageway
Link fighting a Geldman
Link resting against a tree
Link receiving Princess Zelda's cry for help in the remake of A Link to the Past
Link leading Princess Zelda through the Sewer Passageway in the remake of A Link to the Past
Link fighting a Geldman in the remake of A Link to the Past
Link resting under a tree in the remake of A Link to the Past
- BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets
- Chris Houlihan Room
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Comic)
- Official North American site (GBA Edition)
- Official Japanese site
- Official Japanese site (GBA Edition)
- A Link to the Past page on Zelda.com
- ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース, Nintendo Japan, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- スーパーファミコンアワー番組表, The Satellaview History Museum, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- | Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past / Four Swords - Games - Nintendo |, Nintendo (archive), retrieved June 10, 2014.
- ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース＆４つの剣, Nintendo Japan, retrieved June 10, 2014.
- | 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.
- "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." — Introduction (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 in Ice Palace (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)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Any%, ZeldaSpeedRuns.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - Any%, No major glitches, ZeldaSpeedRuns.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - 100%, No savewarps, deaths, or out of bounds, ZeldaSpeedRuns.
- RPGamer - Japandemonium - Xenogears vs. Tetris
- The famitsu 40/40 - A Review
- Xenogears vs. Tetris
- 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)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past w/ the Four Swords Game Boy Advance Review at IGN
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Wii review at IGN
- IGN's Top 100 Games (20-10)
- Nintendo power Issue #248 (December 2009), p. 73
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past User Reviews for SNES - GameSpot
- IGN: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
|Names in Other Regions|
|Japanese||ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース (Zeruda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Toraifōsu)||The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods|
|Spanish||The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past|
|German||The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past|
|Korean||젤다의 전설 신들의 트라이포스|