The Definitive 50 SNES Games: #1 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Click here to view our list of the Definitive 50 SNES games. Links to each video and write-up are included.

The Super Nintendo was not a revolutionary step forward in video game hardware design, but rather an evolutionary advancement from the system which preceded it, and many of the best games on the system are similarly incremental improvements over revolutionary titles which first appeared on the NES. Among such games, one rises above all others. One “legendary” title, better than any other, takes the groundbreaking, innovative design of its predecessors, and fuses it with the added power of the Super Nintendo, to fully realize the dream embodied in those previous games.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released in North America on April 13, 1992. It has since made its way to the GameBoy Advance and Wii Virtual Console. The title takes first on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games.

Simply put, A Link to the Past is my favourite video game. It’s smart, eloquently simple, and intuitive design, compelling aesthetic, but most of all, the sense of adventure it provides, have kept me coming back again and again for two decades.

The game’s numerous dungeons, secret caves, and twisting dual-overworlds are so perfectly refined and balanced, that a player will always be rewarded, always be challenged, and never left bored.

In A Link to the Past, you’re left largely on your own to explore the land of Hyrule and and its grim, enemy infested, Dark World. As Link, you’re on a mission to first find three magic pendants, and then rescue seven maidens, in order to stop the evil Ganon from breaking into the Light World, and to recover the Triforce itself from him. How you go about these tasks is not left up to some hand-holding NPCs, but rather your own exploratory expertise.

Of course, the game’s grand music, a sweeping set of pieces by famed composer Koji Kondo, is still some of the best you’ll find in gaming. Graphically, the title uses the SNES’s power humbly, with a bold, simple style, that manages to hold up to this day.

I’ll never forget my childhood quest through A Link to the Past. The game was a constant challenge that pulled me ever forward. Every turn had to be taken, every path walked, and every cave opened. The sense of accomplishment I felt with every advancement, and especially when I completed the game, is that which I hold most dear in my gaming career.

Shigeru Miyamoto was inspired to create The Legend of Zelda by his childhood exploration of caves and the countryside of Japan. With A Link to the Past he managed to give players the same thrill of wonder and discovery in digital form.

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