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Time and time again, with each new entry in The Legend of Zelda series, fans reminisce about their start into the franchise. Depending on when you picked up a controller or handheld during your journey as a gamer, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past might have been the first Legend of Zelda game you played. Ironically, it wasn’t mine, but I do understand that magic when a cartridge is inserted and a power button or switch is turned on.

This mystical element within gaming leads me to wonder: How influential was A Link to the Past in both the world of video games and the Zelda series?


The third game into the canon timeline and series, A Link to the Past, went back to the top down view — something that was skipped in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. This became the new starting point in the massive timeline that fans are so passionate about (for a time, as now Skyward Sword holds that honor). Yet, given Nintendo’s desire to improve upon a series with each new game, what made A Link to the Past so special?

Drama and core gameplay heightened the hero’s journey that the series is known for, so much that these blueprints laid the foundation for many Zelda games.

A dark and stormy night when you, the player, disobey orders from your uncle leads you down a rabbit hole of saving Princess Zelda, and in turn, Hyrule Kingdom. This story is somewhat standard, but it becomes so much bigger once the notion of parallel worlds is added in. The formula is nothing new today, but at the time of the game’s release, it gave a new layer to what games could do, and what they represented. The interplay of light and dark extended beyond literary themes — changing landscapes, puzzles, dungeons and so much more. While A Link to the Past might not be as long or as robust as today’s latest entries in the franchise, the game capitalized on the technology of its time. How else could the title continue to sell with reprints and re-releases physically or digitally? Or even a sequel 22 years after its release in the form of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS?

FROM 1991 TO 2017

With the game turning 26 this November, A Link to the Past can be introduced to a new generation. While the Super NES Classic has our nostalgia heartstrings tugged, this particular title also serves as a time capsule for the next generation of gamers to explore. For those who went wide-eyed when exploring Hyrule in the Breath of the Wild, they can now journey to the past this month and see how Link and Zelda fight against evil in different lands and times. That’s the magic of games like A Link to the Past. It’s not only revolutionary for its time; its presence is so impactful that it’s become somewhat timeless in the history of the artistry of video games. Generation after generation of gamers will be able to press start, take up the Master Sword and promise to save Hyrule again and again.

Looking for more SNES Classic goodness while you wait for the release of Nintendo’s newest mini machine? You can view more articles featuring the beloved games throughout the month in our Super September series!

Zelda: A Link to the Past and A Link Between World comparison image source

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Written by Jennifer Burch

Illustrator, designer, writer and big Nintendo geek, you can find Jennifer with an N3DS within reach 24/7. As the oldest of three, she has survived many Mario Party, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart sessions intact in addition to getting her brothers hooked on some really weird games. (Cubivore anyone?)