The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds NA cover.jpg
North American packaging artwork, depicting the Master Sword and Link as a painting.
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 3
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Hiromasa Shikata
Producer(s) Eiji Aonuma
Designer(s) Kentaro Tominaga
Programmer(s) Shiro Mouri
Artist(s) Koji Takahashi
  • Tatsuya Hishida
  • Mari Shirakawa
Composer(s) Ryo Nagamatsu
Series The Legend of Zelda
Platform(s) Nintendo 3DS
Release date(s)
  • NA November 22, 2013[1]
  • EU November 22, 2013[2]
  • JP December 26, 2013[3]
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, titled in Japan as The Legend of Zelda: The Triforce of the Gods 2 (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース2 Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Toraifōsu Tsū?), is an action-adventure game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld game console. As the seventeenth installment in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series and as the sequel to the 1991 Super Nintendo Entertainment System title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,[4] its events take place six generations following the previous game's events.[5] The game was released worldwide in November 2013, and in Japan in December 2013.

It was released to critical acclaim, yielding sales of 2.18 million copies by the end of 2013.


Link's ability to merge onto walls allows the player to enter Lorule and reach areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Gameplay follows the top-down overhead gameplay of various The Legend of Zelda games, presented in stereoscopic 3D polygonal graphics. The game largely takes place in the same setting as A Link to the Past, but with some differences in layout and brand new dungeons. Various items and weapons can be used during the game, including returning items such as a bow and arrows, bombs, and mallets, and new items such as the Sand Rod and Tornado Rod. Unlike previous games, in which certain items required ammunition to use, all the items in A Link Between Worlds use a regenerative magic meter, which goes down when items are used. A noticeable change from previous Zelda games is that most of the items aren't found during the course of the game, but are instead rented from Ravio's weapon shop. For a small rental fee, the player can borrow and use as many items as needed, allowing them to tackle dungeons in any order they wish. However, should the player fall in battle, any rented items will be returned to Ravio and will have to be rented again. Later on in the game, players can pay a larger fee to permanently own these items. Hidden throughout the game are several creatures known as Maiamais, which must be returned to their mother. For every ten Maiamais that are found and returned, the player can upgrade an item they have purchased from Ravio, giving them increased power and functionality.[6][7][8][9][10]

A unique feature of A Link Between Worlds is the ability to merge onto walls as a painting. This allows the player to travel across walls, slip through tight areas, and pop out certain objects laying against a wall, allowing them to solve puzzles and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Midway through the game, players are able to access the twisted kingdom of Lorule through various cracks in the environment, which also serve to reach certain areas inaccessible by other means. Weather vanes found throughout each kingdom serve as save points, and a witch named Irene can instantly transport the player to any activated weather vane on the map when requested. The game also makes use of the Nintendo 3DS' StreetPass functionality. If another system that has played the game is passed by via StreetPass, a shadow version of their Link will appear somewhere on the field. Players can fight against these Links, which are AI-controlled opponents based on their game's data. Winning against Shadow Links earns a rupee bounty based on their difficulty, and achievements can be earned for fulfilling certain conditions, such as dealing the final blow with a specific item. The game also features Hint Glasses which reveal the locations of ghosts, who can offer hints for solving puzzles in exchange for Play Coins. A more challenging Hero Mode is available after clearing the game once.[11][12][13]



A Link Between Worlds is the first title since the Oracle series to be set in the "Sealing War" timeline since the split that occurred following the release of Ocarina of Time. The game chronologically takes place after Link's Awakening and before The Legend of Zelda, six generations after the events of A Link to the Past,[14][15][16] and as such, the incarnation of the Link character is not the same as in A Link to the Past.[17] While the game is set in the world of A Link to the Past, many of the locations from the game, such as the dungeons are absent. Instead, A Link Between Worlds features an alternate version of Hyrule called Lorule that is ruled by Zelda's counterpart Hilda.[18]


Following the events of A Link to the Past,[4] the royal family of Hyrule elected to split the Triforce to stop evil from rising again. This had the effect of returning each part to its elected owner. One part returned to the deceased demon king Ganon, one part stayed with the Royal family, and a third part took its rightful place in the heart of Link and his descendants.

Link, who is the apprentice of a blacksmith, goes to deliver a sword to a captain at Hyrule Castle, only to encounter a mysterious figure named Yuga, who transforms a sage, Seres, into a painting. After being knocked out during the fight, Link is found by a merchant named Ravio, who gives him a bracelet in exchange for being allowed to stay in his home, and tells him to report what had happened to Princess Zelda. After going to Hyrule Castle, Zelda gives Link the Pendant of Courage and instructs Link to seek out the pendants of Power and Wisdom in order to gain the power of the Master Sword. Along the way, Link has another encounter with Yuga and is turned into a painting himself. However, thanks to Ravio's bracelet, Link is protected from Yuga's spell and gains the ability to merge with walls and move around as a painting. After finding the other pendants and obtaining the Master Sword, Link returns to Hyrule Castle where he witnesses Yuga transform Zelda into a painting. Link pursues Yuga through a dimensional crack, arriving in the twisted decaying kingdom of Lorule. There, Yuga uses Zelda and the descendants of seven sages, who he had all trapped inside paintings, to revive Ganon and fuse with him, obtaining the Triforce of Power in the process. Just then, Link is assisted by Princess Hilda, the ruler of Lorule, who traps Yuga in magic bonds.

Hilda instructs Link to find and restore all of the seven trapped sages scattered across her kingdom in order to gain the Triforce of Courage. After Link accomplishes this, with help from Ravio's services, Link returns to Lorule Castle, where he discovers Hilda taking the Triforce of Wisdom from Zelda. Hilda reveals that Lorule fell into ruin after her ancestors destroyed their own Triforce. Deciding that in order to restore her kingdom back to its former glory, she needs Hyrule's Triforce, arranging everything so that Link would bring it to her. Hilda attempts to use Yuga to obtain the Triforce of Courage from Link, but Yuga betrays her and turns her into a painting, stealing the Triforce of Wisdom for himself. With Zelda's help, Link manages to defeat Yuga and return Zelda and Hilda to normal. As Hilda feels bitter over her loss, Ravio, who is revealed to be Link's counterpart, convinces her that stealing Hyrule's Triforce isn't the right way to save Lorule, having secretly sought out Link to help her see the light. After Link and Zelda are returned to Hyrule, they use the power of the Triforce to restore Lorule's Triforce and bring Lorule back to its full glory. His quest completed, Link returns the Master Sword to its resting place once more.


Development of a new Zelda game for the 3DS began in 2011.[4] In 2012, Shigeru Miyamoto stated in an interview that he would like to remake A Link to the Past.[19] Later, he said he was debating whether to make a sequel to A Link to the Past or a 3D remake of Majora's Mask.[20] Series producer Eiji Aonuma clarified in an interview that Miyamoto had asked him to do a remake of A Link to the Past, but that Aonuma himself preferred to work on a brand new game, and so convinced Miyamoto that this was the best direction in which to head.[21]

A Link Between Worlds was officially unveiled on April 17, 2013 on Nintendo's online broadcast channel Nintendo Direct. The European and North American broadcasts did not provide the game's subtitle, only referring to it tentatively as The Legend of Zelda.[22] A 3D trailer was released on the Nintendo eShop the same day.[6] The game was confirmed to feature fully orchestrated music from the original.[23] The idea of Link becoming flat like a picture came from the Phantom Ganon boss from Ocarina of Time, where the antagonist hides inside paintings, and the development team asked themselves why they couldn't grant Link the same ability.[24]


The soundtrack for the game was composed and arranged by Ryo Nagamatsu. Some of the music tracks are arrangements of the originals from A Link to the Past.[25] In addition to the music from its direct storyline predecessor, the Streetpass battle mode of the game includes two remixed and re-arranged versions of the Temple Theme from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The Streetpass mode is itself directly inspired by the final "Shadow Link" boss fight of the NES game.

A 105 track soundtrack was released to Club Nintendo members in Japan in November 2014.[26] The soundtrack was also briefly available for Club Nintendo members in the UK in January 2015.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 90.55%[27]
Metacritic 91/100[28]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 8/10[29]
Famitsu 38/40[30]
Game Informer 10/10[31]
GameSpot 9/10[32]
IGN 9.4/10[33]
Joystiq 5/5 stars[34]
Nintendo World Report 9.5/10[35]
Polygon 9.5/10[36]


After playing the demo of the game, IGN editors claimed the game had "everything [they] wanted from a Nintendo 3DS Zelda game", and that the game's bright color palette captured the spirit of the original game.[37] One IGN editor expressed concern that reprising the overworld from A Link to the Past would lessen the sense of wonder from the original game.[38]

Postmedia News called it "a nostalgic blast from the past." The reviewer found the ability to turn into a drawing "jarring at first," although it "feels fresh".[25]


The game received critical acclaim, scoring an aggregate score of 90.55% on GameRankings, based on 54 reviews, and 91/100 on Metacritic, based on 81 reviews. IGN's Keza MacDonald declared that "A Link Between Worlds is not a total revolution, but it may very well be the start of one. I haven't been so challenged by a Zelda since Ocarina of Time, and rarely have I been so consistently surprised by one."[33] While GameSpot's Martin Gaston stated that "There's a lingering sense that by this point Nintendo is just running victory laps around a set of mechanics they perfected decades ago but, at the end of the day, none of that matters: this is simply an absolute treat to play."[32] GameSpot later awarded it "Game of the Year" status for both the 3DS platform and across all platforms for 2013.[39] GameZone's Lance Liebl gave it a 9.5/10, stating "It's an amazing adventure game, not afraid to tweak things from one of the most beloved video games of all-time, and it begs for you to explore the gorgeous land of Hyrule."[40] And on December 24, 2013, GameTrailers awarded this game as game of the year for the Nintendo 3DS, competing against three other 3DS games of 2013: Fire Emblem Awakening, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and Pokémon X and Y.[41] Game Informer was effusive with praise in their review giving a perfect 10/10, praising virtually every aspect, including the rental system, story, gameplay, and especially the way the game lets the player approach the dungeons in any order, and lack of hand-holding.

As of March 31, 2014, it has worldwide sales of 2.51 million.[42] As of August 2014, the game has yielded sales of 1.09 million copies in the United States.[43]


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