When you first fire up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, it will be hard to believe it's been 21 years since gamers went questing through Hyrule and the Dark World introduced in 1992's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. And while it's not easy to return to a place after such a long absence the famous green tunic, castle, and characters are all effortlessly  revived in this 3DS sequel making the passing of two decades seem like a mere footnote.

The fantasy realm of Hyrule is once again threatened by evil forces, requiring young hero Link to don his green pajamas to save the world. While this 3DS follow-up to the 1992 classic retains many of its beloved predecessor’s elements—from enemies and environments to its top-down over-world—it doesn’t rely on just nostalgia to draw players in. Instead, it builds on the appeal and personality of A Link to the Past with some of the series’ most clever and engaging design decisions to date. As Link gets caught up in the battle to stop Yuga he discovers he has the ability to move in and out of walls as a painting. Discovering the alternate dark world of Lorule in the process of exploring this power, he must rescue the sages and Princess Zelda from their artistic prisons and stop Yuga and Ganon from their evil deeds. Link’s new ability which comes to him by way of Yuga, allows him to move in and out of walls as a painting, a key mechanic that offers a new sense of freedom to the world and the many dungeons that you explore. For example, when the Hyrulian transforms into a painting he is capable of navigating otherwise inaccessible areas; this could see him morph into a wall mural to cross a chasm or maybe turn into a 2-D painting to slip through a crack. Many puzzles involve a 2-D Link wrapping himself around the walls of a 3-D environment to reach switches and chests nestled atop faraway making for a very cool gameplay system.

One of A Link Between Worlds bests assests is it doesn’t have a bunch of filler before you see your first bit of action. After waking up in your bed, you’re whisked away and will encounter your first dungeon almost immediately. It’s there where you will prepare Link for battle, learning the basics of combat, item management, and the core game mechanics. From there you’re dropped off into the open world where the rest will be immediately familiar to those who know the Legend of Zelda series, largely because A Link Between Worlds walks the well-worn path of previous games. You can rent items, allowing you to grab your essentials like the Hookshot, Bow, Bomb Bag, but if you die you’ll have to return your rentals. Using the items are tied to an energy bar that recharges over time. Everything from arrows to bombs will have to be recharged but luckily the wait time for the bar to recharge is not that long so you’re encouraged to use whatever item you want without fear of running out of ammo. The graphics are an improved version of the 16-bit graphics featured in the original. They’re colorful, and the 3-D helps, but it’s not the game’s strong point and will probably turn off the faction of people who are turned on by a game's eye candy.

The XXL Endgame

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is proof positive that you can revisit the golden age without without getting trapped in nostalgia. While it may be graphically unimpressive compared to today's standards, Between Worlds recaptures the spirit of adventure that the early Zelda games were known for, successfully laying the groundwork for Zelda games to come.—Written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)

XXL Rating: XL

Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was reviewed for the Nintendo 3DS.