Hot Zelda: Link to the Past is from 90s Game Mags, 30 years later

Nintendo Power
Photo: Nintendo Live

Let’s set the scene: the year 1992. You’re probably sitting in your living room, wearing something with massive shoulder pads. Guns N’ Roses play on the radio. Social media does not exist yet.

Raise your sword if you miss the 90s
Raise your sword if you miss the 90s (Photo:

In this quiet landscape we can add a bunch of video game magazines, filled with a myriad of big, noisy fonts and interiors filled with game hint helplines and weird aggressive ads. And on the cover of one of the 1992 editions appeared a new game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, the third in a series that previously existed only on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Despite this, this new game promises more color, more story, and unknown to you, a whole new world separate from the Hyrule you know and love. It’s the first time a Zelda game has introduced the concept of a geographical and/or temporal split, but let’s be honest – it’s 1992, and you don’t know what any of those words mean. You’re just excited to get a new Zelda SNES game for your birthday, and we don’t blame you. In addition, magazines say that Is that true good.

And now, 30 years later (until today!) we’ve been combing through magazine archives to find a handful of those, examining what the gaming world was like at the time — and how people really felt about A Link to the Past. This was only Zelda’s third match, and although Zelda was clear very Popular, it wasn’t even close to cultural saturation today that Zelda could sell millions in its first week of release, reducing adult men to fits of rage if that’s not quite what they want.

It’s fascinating not only to look back at the public perception of a game that would eventually make its way to the “greatest of all time” lists, but to see exactly what game critics felt was useful to their readers in 1992.

Nintendo Magazine System

Nintendo Magazine System, the British magazine that would eventually become the Official Nintendo Magazine (RIP), has a lot to say about the game in its step-by-step guide/manual/review:

“Zelda is excellent….buy it and you won’t regret it. What you will get is a game with tremendous depth, excitement and even humor, but most of all the quality. It is the most eye-catching quality of design and execution around Zelda. The graphics are stunningly designed It appears in 3D with great colors and animations Great details: just watch the crane pull or the fight.

“All technical prowess aside, Zelda impresses me very much as a brilliantly thought-out adventure. The puzzles are genius and challenging but not too mysterious, and the feeling is that progress is always possible.”

“This is one of the few games that rewards exploration, and there are loads of loads down the outside still waiting to be discovered (by me!).”
– Gas

“It’s always hard to think of things to say about nearly perfect games…what impressed me most though is the sheer degree of thought that goes into the controls. There is an absolute array of items to fiddle with, people to talk to and actions to be had. carried out, and all the last actions are managed logically and friendly.

“Anyone with the slightest inclination to investigate the role of the adventurous type should hold that genre with both hands, and anyone who lacks that inclination needs to have their brains tested.”

nintendo magazine system october 1992


  • Zelda: a “courageous lass” has “the unpleasant habit of catching her regularly”
  • Hyrule: “a country in the shape of a square bordered by rocks”
  • Graphics: ‘Delicious’ with ‘excellent animation’ but ‘maybe…a bit too colorful at times’
  • Response: “excellent”
  • Playability: “caught from the word go” but “roaming monsters are sometimes a annoying distraction”
  • permanence: “This game is so massive…it will take weeks or months to complete”
  • difficulty: medium / hard

Nintendo Power

Nintendo Power coverage seems to focus mainly on how to do this game A connection to the past, and also spoiling all the wonderful secrets. But that’s the only thing – at the time, talking about the awesome powers you’d eventually get, like the ability to swim or cross into the dark world, were just tantalizing reasons to buy and play the game. This will not fly today!

Nintendo Power also ran a LTTP comic for 12 issues along with the game’s release, from January 1992 to December 1992. The series was illustrated by Shotaro Ishinomori – an influential manga artist who created many of the Tokusatsu series, such as the Power Rangers prequel, Super Sentaiand widely popular Riders came. It’s a really cool video game relic, especially for someone who writes about Zelda as much as we do – there are a lot of Link graphics we’ve never seen before!

Although Nintendo Power’s coverage is a bit more “Here’s a Bombardable Wall” than “This Is What We Think About This Game”, there is still some excellent prose to be found:

“A Link to the Past may be called the ultimate adventure. There is movement for those players who love adventure, puzzles for those who love secrets, two worlds to explore and a story that binds them together. The quest has just begun, although already it seems like it’s been a long way to go.”

The path of the link will pass through the seven levels of the dark world and the golden pyramid. He will meet unlikely friends and face dangers in both the light and dark worlds before hearing whispers of the fearsome name of Ganon.”

Holy Triforce, what a great way to describe the game! This makes us want to find our own copies and start the game over.

Computer and video games

Computer Video Games Issue 123 1992 Publishing 02 EMAP GB 0068
Image: Internet Archive

Writer Frank O’Connor says in a very British way of saying that I didn’t like the first half of my two Zelda games. “This is a real sight for sore eyes.” He continues, saying that “Zelda III,” as they were called, retains “instantly accessible arcade gameplay” while introducing “elements of strategy and adventure.” It’s worth noting that CVG played the game on Super Famicom in Japanese, which they say is “tedious” at first, but “all you have to know is the difference between yes and no.”

  • connection: “Little Elf” and “Strong Boy” “Brave Dead”
  • Zelda: “A smart and sexy little princess” (Masra)
  • Graphics: 85/100 – “Very simple”
  • sounds: 87/100 – “spot on”, whatever that means
  • Playability: 90/100
  • permanence: 90/100
  • total point: 89/100

CVG’s review was a bit muted, especially with recent knowledge that the “Zelda III” is a masterpiece, but we’re impressed with their work getting the Japanese import into play early on. The other thing about this review is that it is almost a ’90s British comedy film. research:

“Zelda! For some people, this is the ultimate RPG and is now appearing in its third incarnation on the Super Famicom. The game features the exploits of a young elf named Link. Zelda is a smart and sexy little princess who spends most of the time being kidnapped by evil witches. It doesn’t cause At the end of the troubles for the hapless Link, because he is the one who always has to save her.

Link is a strong and brave boy who is also dead. He must be strong, because he can carry a large, useless amount of things in his magical pockets…”

The review is one page long, and they spend a lot of time talking about Link’s inventory. We guess they can’t really talk about the story, even though it was entirely in Japanese…

It’s the early 90’s, and you can’t play a video game without a game guide. Whether you’ve spent hundreds of pounds/dollars/local currency on printer ink and dial-up internet costs to print yourself, or you’ve managed to convince your parents to spend their hard-earned money on a huge guidebook in newsstands, it’s all the same – but this illustrated guide The glossy that is official Nintendo (it even has a seal of quality!) is rather cute.

Plus, just like the Nintendo Power, there are more Zelda images we’ve never seen before!

Super NES Buyers Guide

If you own a Super NES (or SNES), you may want to know what’s worth buying. Tricky question! The first thing you need to buy is a guide to buying you idiot!

Much like the Nintendo Power, the Super NES Buyers Guide is more of a “how to play” than an actual review, but it does seem to give potential players the information they need (difficulty level, format, genre, etc.) and let them decide for themselves . Not much of a buyers guide, though, right? It’s basically just advertising in the back of the box, and we can just, you know, look at the back of the box. Oh alright!

What a lovely trip down memory lane. Nothing shocking of course – we were kind of hoping to get some surprisingly negative feedback we could laugh at with the benefit of hindsight, but Definitely Everyone loved A Link to the Past. Not only is it a great game, but it has been the blueprint for Zelda games ever since. We wouldn’t have Ocarina of Time or Breath of the Wild without ALTTP, not to mention all the great games other than Zelda that have been inspired by Link’s Dark World adventures since.

Happy 30th Birthday, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You changed the gaming landscape forever, and we love you for that. And thanks for giving us a reason to read old gaming mugs, too.

Give us your link to the past and gaming magazine memories in the comments below!