I don't see anything wrong with a little bump and grind. Admittedly, that sort of opening might be better suited for a write-up on one of the Ys games, but I'm going somewhere with this. I didn't get a SNES until the Christmas of 1993. And didn't get A Link To The Past until sometime in 1994. I would have been thirteen at the time; in junior high. Of course at that age you'd play whatever game you had until it was your birthday or Christmas or whatever. I actually got A Link To The Past from a friend and yet I have no memory of what I traded him in exchange. I guarantee you that I got the better end of the deal, though.
A Link To The Past became my Friday night ritual for MONTHS. Probably for the entire year of 1994 and possibly bleeding into 95 as well. In my memory this game takes up a gigantic chunk of formative gaming years. And it was a big enough world to allow for what felt like never-ending exploration. Of course having now played Breath Of The Wild... well, wait - I'll come back to all that. Let me mention the music.
So Friday night I'd be at my dad's house which is where the SNES was (I had different consoles at each of my parent's houses). It seems like back then we'd always order either pizza or fish and chips on Friday nights, and it seems like ABC's TGIF shows were always on TV while we were eating. A quick look at Wikipedia says that the 94 lineup was Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step By Step and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper. Although ABC lost me after dinner. After dinner was Zelda time. And I'd just lose the rest of the night to A Link To The Past, playing until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.
I had a small boombox in my bedroom at the time that I'd keep a cassette tape in with the 'record' and 'pause' buttons depressed so I was always ready to tape songs off the radio. And while I was still pretty deep into my grunge obsession in 94 (and to be honest, that hasn't changed much even in 2018), Friday nights belonged to Jam'n 94.5's broadcast which was entirely R&B and some light hip hop 'hits' of the day. Their Friday night program was clearly aimed at an early 20's demographic who were probably kicking off their weekend driving to a club or something. But it was my soundtrack to a fucking Zelda game that year.
Here's a dozen-deep playlist to give you an idea and get you in the mood for some Zelda:
How's that for a link to the past? Most of these songs are exactly the sort of shit we listen to when we are kids and are too embarrassed to admit we ever liked them when we're adults. But hey - there's beauty in banality and I'd like to really date myself here and paint a picture of the time. Plus it's interesting to me how memory works - how one sense is connected to another. The smell of banana hazelnut coffee will always bring me back to this small outside coffee shop that I skateboarded to in Waterville Valley, NH one summer on vacation in high school. And that crazy R. Kells etc will probably trigger thoughts of a 16-bit Hyrule.
When I recently decided that my household needed more than one 3DS again, I had to make a decision about which model to pick up. If you've taken a look at the 3DS family, there are a lot of choices. A standard 2DS is super cheap - and ugly. A New 3DS XL is like a luxury portable - and a bit on the bulky side. While the Switch is lovely for playing anywhere I want in my own house, I am too nervous to actually take it anywhere. I needed something sleek and pocket-friendly. I finally decided on the New 2DS XL for three reasons: a nice big screen; a thin and light body; the ability to play SNES games via the Virtual Console.
The first SNES game I bought on the new device was a no-brainer. We all know the accolades that A Link To The Past has received but ultimately there's one very important one here: if forced to make a choice, I'd rank A Link To The Past as my favorite game of all time. Its version of Hyrule is absolutely magical to me. It's the first game to ever make me just want to explore with no clear need for major progress. I loved just seeing what existed in this world. Oh, I got a shovel? I better dig anywhere that looks suspicious. And once you gain the ability to jump between light and dark worlds it becomes almost two games in one.
The 1994 version of myself spent literal hours doing things like the little archery mini-game or basically gambling by paying a few rupees to pick one chest out of three and continually try to gain more and more. There were no internet walkthroughs in 94 and I rarely would buy a strategy guide (probably because they weren't as easy to come by pre-Amazon), so it means a lot to me that back then I obtained every item, every heart, and felt like I saw everyTHING that this game had to offer. Though the 2018 version of me has a lot less free time for such things, so this time around I basically just plowed through the dungeons, obtaining only items that I actually needed to progress and picking up only upgrades that I happened to stumble upon. Maybe most impressive is that while it does require you pick up certain items, it's still pretty loosey goosey and I was able to beat them game with several items missing from my final inventory.
Still, A Link To The Past is like riding a bike for me. Sure I played through the game when it was re-released on Game Boy Advance, but it was really all those many Friday nights that has ingrained this world in me. There were times where I did a quick Google to remind myself some things: where was the flute buried again? How do I get the upgrade to make magic cost half as much? The most embarrassing was that I completely forgot that Hyrule Castle's front entrance later works as a door to the dark world. Duh. But for the most part, this is a game I really just KNOW. This version of the Zelda theme is the one that sounds most right to me in all its 16-bit glory. This version of Link is the one that looks the coolest to me. A Link To The Past is pure comfort food, friends. Maybe more importantly it's a Zelda game that is phenomenal if you play it like an endless open world game every Friday night for over a year, or if you treat it like a straight up linear adventure and plow through it in a week.