A Link to the Past [Part 1]

The video game that sparked a series even further
October 17, 2008
It was a rainy night in Fresh Meadows and I was out at the local Kmart with my dad in Fresh Meadows, New York. It's 1993 and I was gazing at the large array of Game Boy games on the wall behind the large glass pane like any curious 3 year-old when a store representative steps up and opens the glass.

I had to make a choice between two SNES bundles that were up for sale and I decided to go with the one WITH the game instead of the box with two controllers (or something like that). It's probably the best damn choice I ever made. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past was bundled in with the console, along with a tiny guide that gave hints to some of the tricky zones in some of the dungeons which I found very helpful in the later parts of the game.

Upon reaching home my parents set up the SNES using the weird looking adaptor (Don't think A/V cables like the ones used today were in use yet) and my mom showed me the controls- The D-pad to move, B to swing my sword, Start to bring up the item menu and X/Y to use certain items when equipped. I think L and R did some other things... can't remember but I remember the first time i hit the power switch on my SNES. Those 3 yellow triangles would slowly float to the center and then join up forming what I would later learn was the Triforce, then the Start Screen would come up. It was awesome, the music and everything. Hitting up the file select menu, I inputted my name and started the game. You start off in Link's house along with his uncle who is suddenly called out to come defend Hyrule Castle, which seems to be in trouble. After he departs you are free to move but first you must get out of bed. The chest at the southeast corner of the house gives you your first item which is the Lamp. It comes in very handy later on. I remember spending a great deal of time searching for a way into the castle since there were guards blocking off the paths and making the entire thing seem hopeless when I happened to discover that hole under a weird bush which led me underground. Now we're going somewhere!

As you find Link's wounded uncle on the ground, he'll give you his sword and shield and tells you to go rescue Princess Zelda. From there it was a quick run through the castle (my mom helped me a bit through here as well as showing me a nifty trick with the Boomerang to kill off that baddie swinging that damn ball-and-chain) and then it was an escape through the sewers just to reach the Hyrule Sanctuary where Zelda would remain safe for the time being. Getting the first three pendants to pull out the amazingly powerful Master Sword from its pedestal was no small task and when I was finally able to get it was beyond what words can describe.

What makes this game awesome was its story alone. Ganon, the King of Evil, has finally placed his corrupted hands upon the Sacred Triforce and made his vision of the world a reality. It started in the Golden Land itself, the place where the Goddesses put the Triforce for safekeeping. The Golden Land became the Dark World and its darkness was slowly spreading into Hyrule and soon about to make it a hellhole as well. While the story starts out with "missing maidens", who are the descendants of the Seven Sages (it was something else back then but they were captured and imprisoned within seven crystals to prevent their intervention) that have the ability to re-seal Ganon into the Sacred Realm, it quickly becomes clear that they had to be rescued to break the seal on Ganon's Tower on Death Mountain, which glowed with a rainbow-ish color. That was epic. What's also epic about the game was when you finally delivered the killing blow to those bosses that would kill you after a few times then you finally worked up the reflexes to dodge their attacks and use every item in your arsenal to destroy the baddie. Has anyone ever noted that the key to killing most bosses in Zelda games is the item you found midway into the dungeon? Anyway, I remember trying to save up those 500 rupees just to get those damned Zora's Slippers so I would be able to swim, or being turned to a bunny in the Dark World just because I didn't have the Moon Pearl (I once forgot it on a future play-through and I got a message saying if I remembered to pick up the Moon Pearl after killing Agahnim, Ganon's puppet in his plan to take over Hyrule.

The Dark World was the "other parallel world" of the game and it felt like a wastleland because it was dark, filled with monsters and ruined houses. I still don't get that funny chest you found in the paralleled version of Kakariko Village that would follow you and taunt you saying that you'd never be able to open it but when you were finally able to crack it open it rewarded you with another bottle. It was simply weird but the sidequests are what make this game a blast to play when you aren't saving the world. The Bug-Catching Net was used to catch bees for a sick boy in Kakariko Village and other bugs so you could give to him and add to his collection, or fairies to stuff in your bottles for when you happened to die, which was fairly often for a kid my age back then. I remember going into the Woods to get a mushroom for the witch so she could make the kick-ass Blue Potion which saved my butt a lot of times in boss fights.

This game also had a lot of dungeons to explore. Probably the most dungeons of any Zelda game. I loved that a LOT. One of the dungeons that sticks out in my mind as I write this is the Swamp/Sewer Palace in the Dark World where you find the Hookshot in. It just looked cool to me. I found playing with the water switches fun too. You had to raise and lower the water levels to reach platforms and such in here (kinda like the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time) and find the Big Key to open both the Big Chest and Boss Door (Yes, you couldn't get the toy until you found that key). The boss of that dungeon was also a fun one to fight. It was some giant jellyfish-like creature surrounded by a couple of puffball-like things which you had to pluck off one by one using the Hookshot to bring them to you to kill and afterwards it would enrage and start slipping across the floor like a maniac. You would then whack at it several times with the Master Sword to finish it off.

Then there's the Dark Woods Palace which actually required you to find the Big Key and Big Chest in a separate part of the dungeon BEFORE you could actually enter the main portion of the real dungeon. Turns out you needed the Fire Rod to enter and progress through. The thing I hated about this dungeon were the weird mummies that took a lot of damage but fell easily to the might of the Fire Rod and the many torches you had to light to open those timed doors which was annoying. Floor Masters would occaisionally drop down from the ceiling and attempt to grab you.

I think I'll cut this article off here and bring up more details on the game in a later one. There's a lot more to be told. Stay tuned!
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