Ah Nintendo. I don’t know if there’s another brand out there that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about the late 80’s and early 90’s than Nintendo. But as much as I can reminisce about the NES and SNES (and the place they hold in my heart) it didn’t take much for the original PlayStation uproot that bond during my adolescence. However, while titles like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII seemed grittier than Nintendo’s ever excellent first party offerings, the arrival of the PlayStation didn’t mark the end of the 16-bit era to me. Ironically enough, I didn’t experience some of the greatest SNES titles until well into the 32-bit era. Among those titles was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Without going to deep into the place and setting, it was pretty amazing how blown away I was by this early gen title from a bygone era. Sure, great games (usually) remain great regardless of the year or advancements in technology, but A Link to the Past never acted as the springboard I wanted it to be. One would think enjoying one Zelda game would lead to experiencing another and another but for me it never did. I’m sure a lot of this had to do with picking Sony over Nintendo in the following two console generations, but if I can backtrack and experience all the Metroid titles I missed out on you’d think I could do that for the Zelda series as well.
Fast forward to present day and A Link to the Past is still the only Zelda game I’ve ever played. To many I’m sure that’s a bloody sacrilege – and it is – but the question that was on my mind concerned A Link to the Past. After all this time was it still the ten out of ten I billed it to be in my mind? Rest assured there is an answer but all the self-assurance in the world doesn’t make the eventual reality any easier.
As unbelievable as it may sound, A Link to the Past starts out with its only real flaw; namely that the initial light world section and pendant search is mere child’s play. Granted this makes the switchover to the more unforgiving dark world (or golden land) all the more invigorating, but the game feels like it’s in neutral until you start playing around with the dual world concept. Yet as quickly as the game ups the ante there’s a strange feeling where I just can’t slap a ten out of ten on the experience even though there is little doubt the game deserves it. I just don’t know what that hesitation is… but I have a theory.
When it comes to Nintendo mascots/franchises my relationships with them has always been complicated. The sole exception is Samus Aran from Metroid although Other M may be a major snag once I get around to playing it. Anyway, perhaps the most convoluted “relationship” I have is the one I share with Kirby where no game released after the GameBoy original has been able to stack up. Try as I may – and I’ve played most of the immediate follow-ups – my fondness for Kirby is still relegated to that twenty-one year old game despite the fact it is far from prefect. Now I sure there are those that will have no problem diagnosing this as the extreme case of nostalgia goggles it is but I think my issues with Nintendo related fare go far beyond this. The truth is Nintendo developed games just don’t seem to appease my gaming appetite like titles from second and third parties do.
Because of this I often wonder what others see that I do not. Despite a sizable portion of my collection being comprised of Sony titles I don’t have an undying devotion to the brand. In fact, as the generations have passed since the 32/64-bit era I’ve been interested less and less in their offerings – but that pretty much goes for every company competing in the console wars. Additionally, Nintendo is way ahead of Microsoft as well considering I own no Microsoft products beyond the operating system for my laptop.
Regardless of how I try and analyze it, it’s a shame that my involuntary apprehension towards Nintendo products taints my view of what is one hell of a game. Breaking it down the game deserves all the ten out of tens and five out of fives it receives but my heart and the shadow cast over it (maybe it’s that damn Ganon!) won’t allow me to score it that high. That said, I think the only recourse is to play more Zelda games – and more first party Nintendo games – in the future. Here’s hoping I can find something I can give a ten that doesn’t have Metroid in the title.