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  1. It’s actually really amazing how well A Link to the Past holds up! It continues to be one of my favorite games of all time, and I’m certainly not alone in that. The map in particular really grabbed me: Everything felt ‘right’, and it encouraged constant exploration. When I fired it up twenty years after I first played it (on the Wii Virtual Console) I recalled every single heart piece’s location—that’s how much the game burned itself into my memory!

    You’re right that ALTTP—and subsequent Zelda games—tend to follow a sort of top-down Metroidvania approach, where each new item acts as a ‘key’ to unlock the next step in progression. This makes the thru-line somewhat more obvious and linear, but for me, that’s not really a problem. Each new item unlocks other secrets in the world, and discovering those is the real fun of a game like ALTTP (and good Metroidvania games in general.) The obvious line is the last thing I do after I’m pretty sure there’s nothing left to explore with my current items!

    A couple of things you might find interesting: First, Mark Brown’s “Boss Keys” YouTube series starts off with a breakdown of the cleverness and effectiveness of ALTTP’s dungeon designs, and it’s fascinating. (In fact, the whole “Boss Keys” series is excellent and I highly recommend it.)

    Second—and this can be a huge timesink but it’s amazing to watch—is Speed Gaming’s ALTTP randomizer races. SG has a web tool that generates custom, randomized versions of ALTTP meeting specific criteria, and that results in some amazing races. Their Spring 2018 Randomizer tournament had 512 participants (and over 1000 races!) The real winners for me, though, are Keysanity mode (where dungeon keys are randomized all over the world, along with items) and the Super Metroid / ALTTP crossover races, where items from both games are randomized across both games!

    Hope you find those fun. I’m glad

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