News Article

Soapbox: Zelda's Magic Creates A Link Between Generations

Posted by Damien McFerran

Damien McFerran on how Nintendo's new 3DS Zelda has created a vital bond

More than two decades ago, an excitable 12 year-old boy huddled down in front of his Super Nintendo console armed with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Having witnessed the critical acclaim directed towards this new action RPG the youth expectantly flicked up the power switch and was subsequently transported to a mythical world which has since been burned into his very conciousness — so much so that the layout of this particular version of Hyrule is as familiar to him as the back of his hand.

Just in case you were wondering, the child of which I speak is me. Link to the Past was a hugely significant step in my journey as a gamer; it was my first experience of the franchise (I was a Sega fan in those early years, as were many European gamers) and I was totally overawed by the scope and brilliance of Link's first 16-bit outing. Here was a living, breathing game world packed with secrets and hidden paths to discover, as well as a robust quest, legions of monsters and a sprinkling of friendly faces to help you along the way. It's easily one of my all-time favourite video games, and I duly snapped up the Game Boy Advance update when it was released in 2002 and played it all over again. I've lost count of the number of times I've revisited the game, and I'm sure it's a title I'll continue to come back to even when I'm in my old age and my hands and eyes don't work properly any more — they'll have to wrestle that SNES pad out of my gnarled fingers.

The release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is therefore a big deal for me; a sequel-of-sorts to the beloved 1991 outing, it takes place in the same world — and therefore my intimacy with the landscape really pays off. Walking through the 3DS adventure gives me an equal dose of nostalgia and excitement — excitement that can only come when experiencing some fresh and new.

However, I really get a kick out of sharing my love of the original game — and the Zelda series in general — with my family. I have a 5 year-old son who is slowly but surely becoming a dedicated gamer — much to the chagrin of my wife. For my part, I've tried to keep him away from games consoles, iPads and handheld systems as much as possible, which is easier said than done when you're involved with games and tech for a living. I'd rather he indulge in more creative pursuits at this stage, but I can't help but get caught up in his innocent excitement. A large part of that comes from the fact that unlike other games companies, Nintendo delivers an experience that seems to transcend generations. My son is enraptured by very much the same things that I adored back in the '90s; the feeling of exploration, the straightforward yet engrossing gameplay and the eye-catching, colourful visuals.

Back in 1991, A Link to the Past was just one of many games which boasted a bright and breezy 2D aesthetic, but today Nintendo's output stands in stark contrast to what we're seeing on rival systems. With a few exceptions — such as Knack on PS4 and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on Xbox One — most of the launch games for the Xbox One and PS4 feature super-realistic visuals, which usually seems to mean a lack of colour and vibrancy. Realism appeals to an adult mind; as grown-ups, we're amazed at how far technology has come. However, my son isn't bothered that developers can now accurately replicate how paint looks like on a virtual sports car — in fact, he's totally disinterested in such features. His eye is caught by the sublime Super Mario 3D World, or the lush greens, browns and blues of the landscape in A Link Between Worlds — graphics which don't even attempt to be realistic, yet look a million times more enticing.

Nintendo's games carry long and illustrious legacies, which means it's easy for me to expose my son to vintage classics like Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Super Mario Land and many more. Vastly underrated Wii U launch title Nintendo Land had a similar effect; my son didn't know what Pikmin or Metroid or F-Zero or Animal Crossing were, but he's since fallen in love with Pikmin 3, enjoyed F-Zero on the Wii U Virtual Console and picked fruit in New Leaf.

I love the fact that through Nintendo's game, I can share a bond with my child — a bond which simply wouldn't exist if I had decided to pledge my allegiance to either Sony or Microsoft. Of course, games like Forza 5 and Killzone: Shadow Fall have their place, and I'm not for one moment suggesting that we all spurn such experiences in order to play nothing but Zelda and Mario titles all day long. I'm just grateful for Nintendo's continued focus on catering for families while at the same time producing games which appeal to "core" players. Because of this, I'm able to bond with my son and take pleasure in the fact that he's enjoying the same journey that I did 20 years ago — right down to controlling the same characters.

From the web

Game Screenshots

User Comments (65)



Gioku said:

I definitely know that feeling of having a game burned into your memory, two of my first games (while significantly less well known), Mini Car Racing for PC and Pac-Man World 2 for GBA - are now permanently burned into my memory, and I will remember those experiences forever.



Zach said:

Beautiful words Damien. Reading these kind of articles makes me more excited to game myself and excited about sharing gaming with my own future offspring. Thanks!



Pichubby said:

this is what me and my dad do together. zelda snes, metroid blast, mario kart, smb3dw... the list goes on and on. each and every night after my mom and siblings go to bed, we get up and play. nintendo, thanks.



BossBattles said:

I'm disgusted that gamers have to almost apologize for Nintendo for what companies like Pixar get critically acclaimed for...



Hunter-D said:

What an enjoyable read.

Oh, and btw I started playing ALBW without playing ALTTP at all.

Bad decision?



WanderingPB said:

Same here but the video gaming bonding for my son and I started on the Wii with Mario Kart Wii and he is 7 years old and now we play Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101, Windwaker HD, Rayman Legends, and Nintendo Land when my brother visits for the holidays.

My son told me yesterday he's so happy we can play so many games together and thanked me…im very thankful for that and to Nintendo

Thanks Damo for posting this your not alone

There's also a good article on Forbes about games making u a better parent check it out its a good read.



WanderingPB said:

@Hunter-D ur not alone i started playing it too without playing ALTTP but i jus got it on club nintendo for 150 coins so after we beat ALBW we have sum catching to do is how i see it LOL! Still from what ive heard its just as amazing regardless te order u play it



Phantom_R said:

The Legend of Zelda is to generations today what things like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings were in the past.

Nintendo games in general tend to be like that, although if you hand Pokemon Red and Blue to your little cousins playing X and Y results may be mixed. But over the years I've noticed that they've been learning to appreciate the quality I've been showing them over the overwhelming quantity they're showered with.

I'd even go as far as saying that Nintendo is the link between Japanese and Western cultures. Without them we wouldn't have gotten interested in Japan's creative works--at least not to the extent we are today. You have to try really hard to overestimate Nintendo's cultural impact, between societies or generations.



Rezalack said:

I have to wait for my Zelda to arrive in the mail.. ugh.. oh well. Picked up Mario today, that should keep me busy.

I really wish I could have played aLTTP again before playing ALBW, but too bad I suppose. I want to play it on my Wii U. -_-



unrandomsam said:

It is sad if entertainment is the only way for parents and children to bond these days. (Mainly by the parents forcing on them what they want not what the child wants). Especially when the stuff is really easy bad thing for a child to have parents who let them win same with a game that lets them win.



Laxiom said:

@unrandomsam by entertainment, do you mean video games? Aside from raising a barn or fixing a car, entertainment is pretty much the only way you can bond with your child.
What I find sad is when parents use video games as baby sitters, but when that's the case there is no relationship building.



IronMan28 said:

I couldn't agree more, even as an adult I find myself appreciating the visual style of most Nintendo games. Sony does produce some nice looking games that aren't realistic looking, like Journey and the Ratchet & Clank games, but I don't connect with those games as much as those from the house of Mario. MS has some okay games, but I'm not as much into their first party stuff, atm.



Spoony_Tech said:

Its always nice to read stories like this one. I personally wouldn't want my kids playing anything but Nintendo games. My kids 6,4, and 1 love Nintendo games for those very same reasons. When they get older then they can choose what they want but Nintendo will always live on with them!

I wanted the Zelda Wii U bundle a couple months back but that would've been selfish. Sure I want Zelda Wind Waker and all but its not like I haven't played it before. Now my thought turn to what can my children get out of it instead so having a 6 year old son who has never played Skylanders that bundle is way to hard to pass up. Its the perfect family bundle which also includes Nintendo Land so that's a lot of value for my money! I'm a Nintendo fan now going on 30 years here soon and have never regretted it once!



EaZy_T said:

A nice, heartwarming article. Well done!
Nintendo games truely are a treasure to share with loved ones.

"Realistic" graphics has it's place (the Wii U has some that are "real" enough for me, speaking as an adult); but games are games and I appreciate Nintendo for still keeping that in mind.



bezerker99 said:

Nice, heartfelt article, @Damo. This game is ingrained into my brain as well. It's an amazing nostalgic experience to play and revisit this version of Hyrule some 20 years later!



Spoony_Tech said:

@unrandomsam Lol what?? Depending on their age 9 times out of 10 the child doesn't know what they really want! Its up to the parents to mold there children anyway they see fit and for some that's not a good thing. I expose my children to what I did as a child and so far everything in my household is going quite well!



TheAdrock said:

@Spoony_Tech , <-- what he just said.
That unrandomsam person sounds very clueless to me. My kid is 5 and the #1 thing on his Santa list is Link Between Worlds follow by Wind Waker HD at #2. My kid has the Zelda symphonic CD on his iPod which he listens to constantly, day and night. He hums Zelda melodies at breakfast and makes us guess which game and which area the tune is from. All of this is positive for a kid. He's 5 btw.



AcesHigh said:

Excellent article! I could read these parent/child articles for days! I'm going through the same magical experience of sharing and reliving experiences with my 3 1/2 year old now. And it truly is magical to see the excitement of discovering new world's and experiences you had when you were young from a different point of view. It actually doubles the feeling on the part of the observer.

It's also very interesting that the image for this article shows a child playing the gold Zelda SP. How cool is it that that same kid (or those of us around the same age take around 10 years) now have a new Gold Zenda system to their kids!! How perfect!



OptometristLime said:

@AcesHigh tbh at first I couldn't reconcile the article image (the Gameboy SP) with Damo's mention of his child; I just assumed the young lad was playing through a LTTP first, LOL.

So that picture is neither baby Damo nor Damo's baby - huh, now I geddit.



ajcismo said:

Very nice Damo, enjoyable read. The launch of a new Zelda game always reminds me of why I enjoy playing these games, no matter the system. The playthru confirms it.



AcesHigh said:

@OptometristLime Yeah, I was just talking in general. Dont know who that child is. Could be anyone. That picture is, what, 10 to 12 Years old? Could be any kid who is now grown up with a kid of their own. Just in time for the new Zelda themed 3DSXL



MAB said:

@Subie98 Yeah, it's called Crusader of Centy in the US... You will also notice on the box it is a ATLUS game








Galenmereth said:

That GameBoy with Link's Awakening... That was my first Zelda game, and the GameBoy was my first console. A really special memory for me



Pit-Stain said:

sheds tears that...was the best article I have ever read! I think it feels good to have something that keeps you nostalgic, I never had an NES nor a SNES, but I did have a GBC where I spent all day trying to "catch 'em all" in Pokémon Gold. Ahhh memories!

I also agree with that part about the realistic, colorless visuals.



Tasuki said:

@Damo: Very nice article. I introduced my son to the Gamecube when he was younger (Which was the current gen system when he was born) an we spent hours playing games on it. In fact its because of that that he has become the gamer he is today.



Stubborn_Monkey said:



THIS, PEOPLE. Sam here speaks THE TRUTH. Children shouldn't be allowed to win at anything. They should be given impossible challenges so that they learn young that life is unfair, and hard, and cruel. No extra lives or checkpoints for you, sonny! Continuing is for the weak! You want your torment to end? Then DO IT RIGHT!

It's all for their own good though. That way they'll end up being masochists that comment on websites about Japanese game developers to crucify said Japanese game developers every single day for giving them a chance to succeed.

Stupid Nintendo.



MAB said:

@Stubborn_Monkey Yeah I know what you mean mate, that's why I was a SEGA gamer back in the day because they actually gave me more challenging experiences from RPG's to Platformers and everything in between. SOLEIL/Crusader of Centy was a bigger and much harder game than any of the LOZ games at the time... Even by todays standards it can't compete with the mighty SOLEIL



2Sang said:

This is why NIntendo is the best not only gaming company, but entertainment company. They're like a much more in touch (wii u being the exception) version of Disney or when Disney was in its prime.
They can connect generations of people and create memories for future generations to come.
Cmon Earthbound, Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, Battletoads, and F-Zero series remakes.



Stubborn_Monkey said:



Either you are blind to sarcasm or I am too inept at it. Most likely the latter.

Never mind. SOLEIL, eh? I've seen the screenshots above; but, tell me, are there any circuses or acrobats in that game?



MAB said:

@Stubborn_Monkey There is a wolf that eats the grandma... You can't get anymore hardcore than that mate... Circus and acrobats sounds more like a baby Nintendo game



Stubborn_Monkey said:


Don't say that too loud if you ever go around Montreal.

I'd swear I've seen grandma-eating wolves somewhere before, but ATLUS makes quality games, so it must be good. These graphics look very nice.



Stubborn_Monkey said:


Looks pretty, good use of colour. And you say it plays nice, too, so it must be a solid game. Perhaps we'll see it on the Wii U VC if the Mega Drive is ever launched on it. Which I hope it is.



Stubborn_Monkey said:


Yeah, we can all agree that the Wii U VC has been a disappointment so far (expect for EarthBound and games running at 60Hz in the PAL region.). I'd like to see not only Mega Drive, but also Neo Geo and all the other platforms launched on Wii, even MSX. And the GBA games as rumour had it months ago. While they're at it, they should put the Game Boy/ Game Boy Colour games already launched on 3DS too, so we can play them Super Game Boy style.



MAB said:

@Damo I never had Light Crusader back in the day so I got it on Wii VC and thought it was awesome... This is the type of reason why they need to keep pushing old obscure games like they did with Earthbound onto the masses that might not have been able to enjoy it in the past



Dazza said:

@Damo great article mate. It totally sums up my experience having started the game yesterday with my 5 yr old lass as my questing companion. She's been so excited watching me explore the game and has actually helped me solve some of the dungeon puzzles to my surprise.

Nintendo have definitely created a link between generations with this game. Now there are two Zelda fans in my household!




WiiLovePeace said:

It's an amazing game & game series. Nintendo really go out of their way to make games both accessible & challenging to young & old. The games provide fun that just can't be beat to be honest. They're all geniuses in my eyes. Masters of creativity & fun. Go go Nintendo go!



Kirk said:

I watched a video showing the first hour of the game on YouTube the other day and despite my issue with some of the graphics (that shiny bumpy look in places due to the overuse of generic shaders), that's actually not quite as off-putting as I thought after watching that first hour, this has now become the game I most want to play on ANY platform right now.

The game just looks brilliant, with classic gameplay and game design that actually looks like genuine fun again, and the audio is just amazing (both the music and the sound fx).

I really wish I could affor to buy a 3DS/2DS and a copy of this game because I REALLY want to play it.



WiiLovePeace said:

@Kirk it looks even better on my 3DS XL than in video footage. I wish you luck & god speed in your mission to get a 3DS or 2DS & a copy of the game, you're definitely going to love it!



MAB said:

@WiiLovePeace I couldn't imagine playing it on anything less than a 3DSXL with the 3D set to max... On a 2DS it would be like playing your WiiU/PSBOX41 on a non HDTV



WiiLovePeace said:

@MadAussieBloke hahaha I agree completely! But if a 2DS is what people can afford + the game then I still heartily recommend that setup since it's such a brilliant game. But of course 3DS XL + 3D to the max is the #1 best way to play all 3DS games imo



ToxieDogg said:

It is shocking that they never put Soleil/Crusader Of Centy on the Virtual Console, it's a great game. On saying that though, I thought Landstalker was an even better game and that is on the Wii VC



BlackStar9000 said:

@Spoony_Tech same age and my two boys are a year older than your kids in age, sure society has turned them onto zombies and shooting but i dont allow them to play those types of games. The moment I show them a new Nintendo game, sonic and rayman included they get super excited and beg me to play with them, I even let them play the old nes, snes/Genesis and n64 games and they love them, soon we will play Super Mario 3d World together and game until they go to bed... This kind of gaming bond through generations is something special that only Nintendo has been able to provide and it's why I've been supporting them since i was 4, ill be 30 in two months with also marks my zelda anniversary, I plan to get the zelda 3DSXL bundle by then.



JuanitoShet said:

I get a similar thrill when I share games with my little sister — though this little bond is brotherly and not from parent-to-child — and it's great to know that she also loves pretty much all of the games that I used to play 10 years ago. It really is a special thing.



Gioku said:

@JuanitoShet: I do the same thing with my little sister! I've been playing games with her since she was born - we have pictures of me playing GBA with her watching when she was just a baby! She's been entranced by video games all her life - and she's better at them now than I was at her age!



MAB said:

@Subie98 No worries mate... The nostalgia pumps through my veins as I remember the young MadAussie being awesomed by this game

Soleil Town

World Map


Boss Attack






BlackStar9000 said:

@MadAussieBloke wow, don't know how i missed this one, but I was a poor kid who got the sega in 94, I choose it over the snes, looking back that was a bad decision as i was one of the few in my hood with one so I missed out on a lot, I will be getting this now, thx aussie



MAB said:

@ToxieDogg Yep, Landstalker and its sequels are high up on my awesome list also

@BlackStar9000 No probs yo, just thought some fellow Action/Adventurers might want to check out a hidden gem that (like you said) might have missed out on back in the good old days... ATLUS did a great job with the music creating a nice balance between light/dark, good/evil

Battle music






JimLad said:

@BossBattles Well put.
Hopefully once graphics can't get any better, and people start seeing shooters for what they are (repetitive dumbed-down gameplay) maybe developers will start making games with a bit more imagination.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...