It may be the year of Luigi, but that hasn't stopped Nintendo from putting two Legend of Zelda games on the release calendar. While Wind Waker was a well received HD remake, the jury is still out on next month's Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS. A spiritual successor to Link to the Past, Link Between Worlds offers new twists on the familiar top-down Zelda formula.
We got to play through part of one dungeon in Link Between Worlds at New York Comic Con. This particular temple was built around verticality, and offered plenty of visual pop for the 3DS' screen. Though there was still some left-to-right exploration, the emphasis in this area was on moving upward. As such, Link came equipped with a massive hammer. This weapon could be used to smash enemies, but was more instrumental in navigating the area. Throughout the level, there were smiley-faced rubber blocks, which when smashed, would frown and retreat into the ground. After a short duration, they'd pop back out, acting as a springboard of sorts for Link.
Regardless of what tier of the stage you were on, there were always enemies about. You could make short work of the skeletons and snake-like monsters inhabiting the temple with ease. Combat will be very familiar to anyone who's played Zelda game before. Each individual weapon is mapped to one of the face buttons, and you simply hit the button to use the sword or hammer or bow. Some of the traps in the temple required being hit with a weapon, too, but getting around this demo stage was incredibly easy at first. Once the wall traversal mechanic was introduced, the puzzles became a bit more complex.
In certain areas, we were met with what appeared to be a dead end. Then we recalled part of Link's skill set this time around was the ability to meld into the wall. This opened up new exploratory possibilities, and was key in moving through the later floors of the temple. Link has a short timer for how long he can spend in the wall, so don't think you'll be able to use it forever to get out of jams. We learned the hard way to pay close attention to how much time we had left when roaming the exterior of the temple. While waiting for a platform to appear, we ran out of juice, and plummeted to a grisly death. Once you get the hang of thinking in this additional dimension, getting around is a snap. It's a great new way to add complexity in the level design, and we can't wait to see how its implemented in later temples.
Before we could get to the boss, the demo concluded, leaving us wanting for more. Link to the Past is widely considered one of the top Legend of Zelda games, so getting a successor to that fine lineage should make fans extremely happy. We liked what we saw, and the only disappointing bit was how little time we actually had to spend with Link. Thankfully, we won't have to wait much longer to enjoy the full game.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is due out on Nov. 22 for the Nintendo 2DS and 3DS.