The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past Graphic Novel Review
A new take on a fan favorite
An easy way to read these forgotten comics
Lacking art style
Strange story choices
A Different Take –
Throughout the 90s, Nintendo Power featured original comics revolving around popular Nintendo franchises such as Metroid, Star Fox and even Nester, Nintendo’s spikey hair kid mascot. One of the most notable comics was the retelling of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past from January 1992 (Vol. 32) through December 1992 (Vol. 43). With the help of Perfect Square and Viz Media, Nintendo has reissued these Zelda strips in a stand-alone graphic novel with a suggested retail price of $19.99 (Amazon is currently selling this for around $15).
These comics were created by Shotaro Ishinomori, a prolific Japanese illustrator that holds the Guinness World Record for “most comics published by one author.” While this is undoubtedly an impressive feat, I personally am not a fan of his portrayal of Link and the rest of the Zelda world within these strips. With undetailed and simply drawings, most panels lack the high definition respect that the Zelda franchise deserves. At the same time, these comics were hammered out in the early 90s to help carry the hype surrounding Link’s 16-bit sequel, published within a magazine, and probably had a short turn-around. While I am trying to give these comics the benefit of the doubt, it doesn’t excuse the lacking presentation. Most panels look like generic storyboards instead of finished detailed scenes. They might have looked cool in the early 90s but do not exactly hold up very well today.
From someone who has played through LttP more times than I can remember, reading through this graphic novel is rather jarring because of the extreme differences between the game and this visual retelling. A small blurb on the back cover states that the new plot twists and new characters “were added to preserve the element of surprise and add to the dramatic flow.” It is rather interesting to see a new take on the story as a whole but when the story sporadically jumps around as much as the visual aesthetic, the end result is rather lacking and feels incomplete.
So what is different between the game and comic? After Link finds all the pendants, he recruits the help of some town folk to build a hot air balloon as way to sneak into the palace; right, as if no one will be able to see a giant floating balloon in the sky from miles away.
Sahasrahla also plays a larger role, gaining the ability to commune with Link through the Light and Dark Worlds through a new item called the Comfork. A fairy named Epheremelda is basically the Navi of this comic and a new bird-man character named Roam challenges Link and constantly bitches about finding a special arrow to kill Ganon. There are even a few pages where Link uses some miracle wings to fly, saves the Book of Mudora from a burning library, and befriends a Zora who gives him a Zora mask, acting as a premonition of Majora’s Mask. Link doesn’t even use a shield and his parents, along with his uncle, are key side characters.
There are other instances that take the reader out of the fantasy with laughable presentation. For example, the Dark World cyclopes would attack Link by throwing bombs in this SNES masterpiece. In this comic however, these mutants have Rambo-like grenades and grenade straps around their chest instead of the cartoony bombs from the game. Remember that super bad Super Mario Bros. movie and how it had nothing to do with the game as it was so bizarrely different? Well this comic is sort of like that but only with A Link To The Past.
Even through the entire softcover book is just shy of 200 pages, it is a quick read that can easily be completed in one sitting. But since the setting and plot often takes huge leaps from one panel to the next, this Link To the Past graphic novel is only recommended for super fans with an open mind. This is not the Link To the Past that you know and it isn’t going to be one that you particularly enjoy but the shock value might be worth for the price of admission for dedicated fans willing to plunk down a twenty spot. Instead, fans are probably better off playing through the extra Woodcutter mission in the GBA port if they are looking for additional, quality, Link To The Past content.
Not As Good As: Hyrule Historia
Do This Instead: borrow it from a friend
Also Try: Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel (PSP)
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com