The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the greatest video game ever made. Subjective? Maybe. Factual? Yes, also that.
Sure, technology has vastly improved since 1992 when the game was first released in the United States, and, yes, the graphics and gameplay are far more advanced in Zelda games that have been released in the yeas since, but A Link to the Past remains an extraordinary entry in the Zelda franchise.
First off, it was super advanced for its time. The sprawling world of Hyrule? Legitimately unprecedented.
Second, it is just a blast to play. It was also the last console Zelda game released before game controllers started getting more complicated, and I am an old-school sucker for a gamepad or a joystick, not a whole slew of them jumbled together and a steep learning curve.
Seeing as A Link to the Past IS the greatest video game ever made, I have played it a few and a half times.
And while playing a video game for the first time is mysterious and exciting no matter what annoying obstacles the game throws your way, replaying a game for the however many-eth time comes with a bizarre set of frustrations.
Not because the game is difficult to play – it gets easier, of course, once you know what to do – but because, even though you do know what to do, there are still things that heckle you on a return trip. Zelda LTTP has its share.
1. When a character provides you with a clue and asks “Do you understand?” and you click “Not at all.”
Because you forget that the character always just repeats the same thing. It’s not a conversation. It’s a monologue. Nobody chitchats in Hyrule.
2. When you forget to switch your weapon back to boomerang and waste your arrows. Or magic. Or bombs.
Those things don’t come free. Well, sometimes they do, but even when you don’t have to pay for them, you have to hunt them down or fight for them.
Then, you just shoot them off willy-nilly and you’re back to having to re-up your stores.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but sometimes you’re about to face the Armos Knights and you can’t do it with your arrows depleted.
3. Knowing Pegasus Shoes exist, but not having them yet.
Hyrule is a big place. It takes time to get around it. On your first play, this is quite lovely.
You can enjoy a walk through the graveyard, destroy some unsuspecting neighbor’s landscaping, toss a chicken.
When you just want to get to where you’re going, though, it’s nice to be able to dash. But you can’t dash until you have the Pegasus Shoes.
You gotta get those kicks, Man.
Luckily, you get your hands on them early in the game without any extra effort (you gotta beat the East Palace anyway). ‘Cause let’s be honest, it’s also nice to be able to run away from a fight when you just can’t with that soldier right now.
4. Forgetting in which order to push the bricks around to move them out of the way and get to a treasure chest.
You know what I’m talking about, these puppies.
Granted, you could study the set-up for a long minute and logic it out before you start. But you don’t.
You just start pushing, inevitably do it wrong the first time, and then have to make a trip back up and down the stairs to reset the stones, so you can do it again.
I’m sure some people’s brains retain which stones to push every time, but my brain’s not hanging onto it between replays.
5. Walking past all those cracks in walls before you have bombs.
There’s something behind that wall. You know there’s something behind that wall.
You want to know what it is, even if just a measly five rupees. But you don’t have any bombs yet.
Don’t sweat it. You might make it back there. But probably not.
6. Skeletons and those jerks in the woods.
No matter how many times you play LttP, the Stalfos (skeletons) and the Thief remain asshats of the highest order.
They don’t even have any abilities. They just come at you or jump away from you.
Like, learn a skill, how to shoot fire out your butt or something.
There are, of course, the Stalfos that can throw their bones at you or become a floating head. At least that’s something.
7. Landmines under bushes.
Just want to take a casual stroll looting the greenery of Hyrule’s town and forestland? Tough nuggets.
Those suckers are booby trapped. There you are, just looking for some hearts or coin.
You do NOT want to get blown up. But you WILL walk over a landmine.
At some point. Every time you play.
8. Things that come from the sand.
There are so many annoying hazards in the Hyrulian desert, it should be its own therapy category.
It’s not that the foes there are particularly difficult to beat. So many of them are just So. Damn. Annoying.
Muscly, claw-handed creatures rising out of the sand. Fire-spitting insects with great grasping pincers.
And that freakin’ vulture.
9. When your aim is off.
With your bombs. You arrows. Your sword when fighting sword-wielding soldiers.
The range when using weapons in A Link to the Past is surprisingly narrow.
Lay your bomb a centimeter too far from a crack? It explodes uselessly.
Arrow a smidge off on those one-eyed cyclops? They just keep coming for you.
Standing off-center when battling a guard with a sword? You’re gonna miss and get sliced.
While you get accustomed to the sweet spots again after a while, it takes a minute when you start a replay to find your groove. And, if you’re me, you’ll lose several hearts in the process.
10. Being reminded you’re a dude.
I love A Link to the Past. I’ma say that one more time. But the number of games being produced now with multiple gender options or with leads of ambiguous genders, it’s sort of irritating just how frequently you’re reminded you’re a dude.
‘Cause when this fairy lady says this, I too would like to be able to pretend t’s directed toward me personally –