The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past will always stand as one of the best video games that I’ve had the good fortune of playing. As a title on the Super Nintendo, and as an entry in the gaming medium as a whole, Link to the Past stands in a league of its own.
I remember getting this game one Christmas from my folks. In my family, as is often the case with American-Italians, we don’t open presents on Christmas morning. Instead, after a massive, seven fish dinner, we dive into our presents at midnight on Christmas Eve.
Now, even back then, my parents knew I was a complete and utter nerd. I gamed constantly, and the Super Nintendo was my system of choice. As far as Christmas presents go, my parents almost always operated under the same rule: you get one game a year, and you have to wait until Christmas Eve to play it.
Because of that rule, growing up geeky was actually pretty tough. A game like Zelda would be featured heavily in Nintendo Power. I’d know its release date, I’d have read all of its coverage, it would hit stores, my folks would take me with them to buy it (so that they would get the right game) and then it would sit in the present room until December 25th at 12am.
Do you know how agonizing that is for a kid!? Nowadays, sure, whatever, games, hold onto them, I don’t care. But back then!? When all of my friends were hanging out at recess, talking about how amazing Sonic or Mario or Zelda was? Man, it was miserable.
That Christmas Eve came and I devoured my dinner, somehow thinking it would let me see midnight a little sooner. It came slowly, of course, only now I was sick to my stomach and bored.
When midnight hit, my dad decided to make sure I was the last one to open gifts. It wasn’t until 12:30 that I had A Link to the Past in my hands, and I was going nuts. I fired up my Super Nintendo (which my folks had awesomely hooked up to the big, downstairs TV for this occasion) and sat down with the game.
I played it until 4am that night. I passed out cold by 4:15am. I was up by 8, scarfed down my breakfast and headed back into the family room for another session. I beat the game by playing it in that fashion before New Years.
I was obsessed with Zelda back then. The story stunned me. The whole concept of their being two separate dimensions sitting directly on top of one another was astounding. Make one light and one dark and you’ve got a recipe for exploration handy immediately.
That’s mostly why I explored A Link to the Past from corner to corner in my free time. Before I even beat the game, I’d traversed every virtual inch I could cover, always wondering what was under the cloud layer surrounding the game’s boundary.
The art style, the gameplay mechanics, the characters, the weapons, none of that mattered to me back then. A Link to the Past just felt like a great game in a way that wasn’t easily qualified by my young mind. I know why I love it now, absolutely, but then?
I just knew The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was a masterpiece.