Long ago, in the beautiful kingdom of Hyrule surrounded by mountains and forests... legends told of an omnipotent and omniscient Golden Power that resided in a hidden land. Many people aggressively sought to enter the hidden Golden Land... But no one ever returned. One day evil power began to flow from the Golden Land... So the King commanded seven wise men to seal the gate to the Land of the Golden Power. That seal should have remained for all time...
—The game's opening cinematic
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the SNES, known as The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods in Japan and commonly abbreviated as (A)LttP. It was released in 1991 in Japan and 1992 in North America and Europe as the third game in The Legend of Zelda series, and is commonly considered among the best of the 2D games in the series - it shifted gears from the side-scrolling gameplay of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in favor of returning to the top-down adventure format of the first Zelda, as well as featuring more of an emphasis on puzzles alongside combat.
The story is set many years before the events of the original Legend of Zelda and its sequel, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, as stated by the game's manual (and reinforced by the official timeline of Hyrule Historia). Link receives a psychic message from Princess Zelda, telling him to come and save her from her imprisonment in the castle dungeon. Link's uncle, a former knight in service to the royal family of Hyrule and the lad's guardian, is about to leave the house with a sword and shield in hand; seeing Link awaken, he promises to return in the morning and suggests Link remain in bed. Ignoring his instructions, Link later sneaks into the palace via the sewers in an attempt to rescue the Princess himself, and finds his uncle mortally wounded, unable to go on; he entrusts Link with the task of saving the Princess and gives the boy his sword and shield before dying.
As Link rescues Zelda, he learned that the evil wizard Agahnim is capturing girls from across Hyrule, specifically seeking out the descendants of seven Wise Men (later referred to as the "Seven Sages") in order to spirit them away and consolidate his power: the only way to defeat him is to obtain the three Pendants of Virtue from dungeons across Hyrule, and then retrieve the Master Sword. Of course, saving the world isn't that easy - Link confronts the wizard and is forced into the Dark World, a parallel version of Hyrule distorted by Ganon's wishes after he was sealed in the Golden Land. There, he must navigate both worlds to save the captured maidens and finally defeat Ganon.
The basic plot formula of A Link to the Past - gather three items, get Master Sword, huge plot twist, gather more items, fight final boss - is known to some fans as "the Legend" and would be repeated many times throughout the series. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, a direct sequel to the events of this game, would continue the use of top-down perspective and focus on puzzle-solving and tailor it to a different setting, with more notable divergences from the "Legend" formula that gave the game a unique feel and established many of its own precedents.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the fifth entry in the series, was the first to cement the overarching plot structure established in Link to the Past and translate it to full 3D gameplay, more directly conforming to that formula in comparison to Link's Awakening. Chronologically, it would be established as directly leading into the events of this game in the "Downfall", or "Fallen Hero", timeline: Ganondorf defeated Link in the final battle for Hyrule and obtained the complete Triforce, forcing the Seven Sages to seal him in the Sacred Realm (turned into the Dark World of A Link to the Past) as a last resort.
Released to critical and commercial success, A Link to the Past was a landmark game for Nintendo and is considered one of the greatest video games of all time. It was given an Updated Rerelease in 2002, titled The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords for the Game Boy Advance, which coupled the enhanced port with the new multiplayer-only game The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords and ties their save slots together; this enhanced port sold 6.5 million copies across both platforms by 2004, but has not been released in any form since. The base game has seen re-releases on the Wii, Wii U, and New Nintendo 3DS via the Virtual Console; the Nintendo Switch via Nintendo Switch Online; and the Super NES Classic Edition. A spiritual successor, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013.
The game is incredibly popular for speedrunning, to the point that it was once the fourth-most played game as reported by Speedrun.com in 2019; though it still has a considerable player base, it has since fallen to a lower position (being just outside the top 20 as of November 2022). It is commonly run at the Games Done Quick charity marathon, where it is often considered one of the highlights of the event. A Link to the Past Randomizer is a Randomizer Game Mod created in 2016 that attempts to evoke the uncertainty and excitement of playing the game for the first time by shuffling item locations within dungeons and across the game's worlds - the mod commnunity has since expanded to incorporate various other challenges and randomization.
- Dark World: A Link to the Past is the first game in the Zelda series to use this specific form of Dual World Gameplay. The Dark World here is said to be the corrupted Sacred Realm, transformed by Ganon's wish on the Triforce after he was sealed there. Many Light World dwellers have disappeared into the Dark World and been turned into monsters or other objects - Link himself is turned into a defenseless bunny upon first entering the Dark World, though he can use the Magic Mirror warp back to the Light World; soon after being given the Mirror, he can obtain the Moon Pearl which allows him to retain his form whenever he enters the Dark World.
- Ability Required to Proceed: Firmly established as a Zelda series tradition at this point. While the world of Link to the Past isn't as ridiculously open as the first game, there's at least a fair amount of flexibility to Sequence Break when completing the Dark World dungeons (especially once you obtain the Magic Hammer) - that said, you'll still generally need specific items to even reach some dungeons and/or take on the bosses. Link to the Past also introduces the recurring Big Key, which is required in order to access the dungeon's special item(s) and the boss chamber. As far as what's required for what... you may want to sit down a while.
- The Bow in the Eastern Palace is required to defeat the Red Eyegores that block off two rooms leading into the boss chamber, and remains required for later tasks such as activating Eyegore Statues. They're not required for the Armos Knights bosses, but are the quickest way to dispose of them by far (with each going down in three hits).
- Once the Eastern Palace boss is defeated and you obtain the Pendant of Courage, showing it to Sahasrahla nets you the Pegasus Boots; using the boots, you can retrieve the Book of Mudora from the library near Kakariko and open the Desert Palace. Within the Desert Palace is a set of Power Gloves required to reach the segment of the dungeon containing the boss; the Gloves also give access to a cave path that leads out into Death Mountain, and the old man you meet there will give you the Magic Mirror that allows you to travel between worlds. This is required to reach the Tower of Hera, where you find the Moon Pearl that allows you to maintain your form in the Dark World, so you can actually explore it once you are sent there later in the game.
- The Master Sword can only be obtained with the Book and all three Pendants from the dungeons above, and is required to gain access to Hyrule Castle Tower and defeat Agahnim - not by direct damage, but by reflecting his fireballs back at him.
- Now for the Dark World: the Magic Hammer from the Palace of Darkness is required to not only defeat the Helmasaur King, but opens up much of the overworld in the Dark World and Light World that were blocked by pegs. Swamp Palace is heavily water-logged and requires the Zora's Flippers, which you can pick up well before that point; the dungeon item is the Hookshot, needed to progress through it and defeat the boss Arrghus. Skull Woods holds the Fire Rod, required to access the segment of the dungeon containing its boss Mothula. The Ice Palace is an isolated structure whose entrance can only be reached by a portal hidden under a Titan's Mitt stone in the Light World, and once inside requires the Fire Rod or Bombos Medallion to kill the Ice Beast and open the door.
- Two of the three Magic Medallions (Ether and Quake) are required in order to access Misery Mire (Level 6) and Turtle Rock (Level 7) in the Dark World - obtaining the Ether Medallion requires you to read its tablet using the Book of Mudora while you have the Master Sword or a better sword. Misery Mire is also a case of Disconnected Side Area that can only be reached by obtaining the Flute and using it to fly to an otherwise-isolated perch in the Light World's desert area, then lifting the Titan's Mitt stone and using the portal underneath.
- Both dungeons are examples in themselves - Misery Mire requires you to cross a gap in the very first room which is typically done with the Hookshot, although it is also possible with creative use of the Pegasus Boots; it also holds the Cane of Somaria, whose block-making magic is required to hold down a switch in the lower basement floors. Turtle Rock cuts off access to the rest of its dungeon in a similar manner - the only way to cross the "rails" spanning throughout much of the dungeon are the Cane of Somaria's blocks, which turn into rideable platforms; some rooms require you to light torches with the Fire Rod as you pass by. Its boss is the stony-shelled Trinexx, which requires both the Fire and Ice Rods to take out two of its three heads.
- And finally: beating Misery Mire and Ice Palace unlocks the Super Bomb in the Dark World shop where Link's House would be in the Light World, which is needed to open the Fairy Fountain that can upgrade your arrows to Silver Arrows. Said Silver Arrows are the only hope you have of defeating Ganon and reclaiming the Triforce. Phew!
- All There in the Manual: The manual contains both the backstory and a sealed booklet explaining how to beat some of the tougher puzzles. It should be mentioned that the translators of the American manual took a few liberties with the text - while arguably Woolseyisms at the time, some of them were inconsistent with later titles.
- And I Must Scream: Some of the trees in the Dark World are actually transformed people that can talk to you. The seven maidens are also each found trapped in a crystal as a Living MacGuffin after being sent to the Dark World.
- Animated Adaptation: An adaptation of the manga is currently in the works, starring Todd Haberkorn as the voice of Link.
- Arc Number: Seven Wise Men and their seven descendants, seven crystals trapping each of them, and seven Dark World dungeons to retrieve them from.
- Arc Words: "May the way of the Hero lead to the Triforce."
- Bad Future: The timeline included in the Hyrule Historia and The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia books published by Dark Horse contain commentary indicating that A Link to the Past - and by extension the Oracle games, the first Legend of Zelda, and The Adventure of Link - are the result of a timeline where Link failed to defeat Ganondorf in the Adult Timeline of Ocarina of Time. While the sages still manage to seal Ganondorf away, the Imprisoning War presumably cost many more lives than would have been lost if Link had won.
- Baleful Polymorph:
- In Kakariko, use Magic Powder on the Cucco hiding in a pot inside the house of the informant woman in the blue dress that sics a guard onto you - this turns it into a spitting image of the woman, who uses her newfound speech to tell you off for teasing her fellow Cuccos and express discomfort at her new form, all while still clucking occasionally.
- Most residents of the Dark World are at least somewhat displeased with having been transformed against their will. Link the pink bunny arguably handles it well, but given his Heroic Mime status, it's hard to know what he really thinks of the situation - the manga adaptation has an artwork where he doesn't seem ecstatic with the change. The Moon Pearl allows Link to maintain his true form; unfortunately, starting from Skull Woods you'll also encounter star-shaped "Rabbit Beams" that temporarily disable the Moon Pearl if they hit you, leaving Link bunnified until he takes damage or the effect wears off.
- The missing dwarven blacksmith who works near Kakariko Village ended up as a frog in the Dark World, trapped between two sets of heavy stones. Link can optionally escort him back to his partner in the Light World - doing so is recommended, since he can then pay the pair 10 Rupees and wait a while for them to upgrade his Master Sword into the twice-as-powerful Tempered Sword.
- Bladder of Steel: This trope only comes into play with the original release if you want to attempt a single-game clear - dying or using the "save and quit" option will increase the game count, so you'd better have a few hours of time set aside. Re-releases avert this trope generally: the GBA Updated Rerelease only increases the count whenever you die, and the Virtual Console uses save states whenever you quit the game using the Wii's Home button.
- Bling Bling Bang: Link's strongest sword is made out of presumably-magical gold.
- Bonus Dungeon The GBA Updated Rerelease has the Palace of the Four Sword, unlocked by completing the multiplayer Four Swords game on the same save file.
- Bubblegloop Swamp: The Great Swamp found to the south of Link's House and the Dark World counterpart, the Plains of Ruin, are treated as this: visually, they more resemble grassy fields (or badlands in the Dark World) with a few lakes and ponds. The Plains of Ruin are home to the Swamp Palace, the second Dark World dungeon that is only accessible by opening the dam within the Swamp Ruin to drain the reservoir in the Light World. There is also the Swamp of Evil, the Dark World counterpart to the Light World desert; unlike the dry humid area you reach it through, this swamp is constantly beset by torrential rains - the sixth Dark World dungeon, Misery Mire, can only be accessed using the Ether Medallion.
- Call to Adventure: Zelda telepathically contacts Link at the beginning of the game.
- The Cameo: A pair of Chain Chomps from the Mario franchise appear in Turtle Rock. The GBA Updated Rerelease also places them in the Palace of the Four Sword.
- Chain-Reaction Destruction: Serves as the death animation for the three Lanmolas, Moldorm, the Helmasaur King, and Trinexx.
- Clear My Name: After helping Princess Zelda escape in the opening stages of the game, Link is accused of her abduction; this establishes the presence of the brainwashed soldiers that are scattered across much of the Light World, out to arrest him on sight. Kakariko Village in particular has two women at opposite ends of town that will call a guard and lock themselves in their house if they spot Link; after retrieving the Master Sword, the village is overrun by guards, and upon defeating Agahnim in the Hyrule Castle Tower the amount of guards in the overworld increases further.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Green, red and blue are recurring colors throughout the game. The armor of the enemy soldiers indicates their general strength level: green for the weakest form, blue for the stronger version, and red for the strongest version. This also applies to Link's mail as well, which can be upgraded to blue and then red. The Pendants of Virtue are also obtained in this order
- Comic Book Adaptation: Three of them:
- The western comic adaptation by Shotaro Ishinomori serialized in Nintendo Power and later published in graphic novel form.
- The first manga adaptation by Ataru Cagiva published in Japan after the SNES release.
- A second manga adaptation, this time by Akira Himekawa. It was originally published after the GBA release and was released in the states in 2010.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: When Ganon reveals himself in Ganon's Tower, Link uses the flute to summon the bird and give chase, following Ganon to the Pyramid of Power - this is typically not possible either indoors or in the Dark World.
- Death Mountain: The Trope Namer return and is known as Mt. Hebra, and still features Spectacle Rock as a landmark as in the previous games. The name of Death Mountain is given to its Dark World counterpart, which has more ominous (but still catchy) music than the rest of the Dark overworld to go with its more twisted nature.
- Decoy Damsel: One is found within Thieves' Town. She's a bit conspicuous, though: 'she' is trapped not in a crystal, but a dingy cage, and is escorted through the dungeon similar to the escape sequence with Zelda near the beginning... Until she gets antsy when you're about to exit the dungeon. Using a bomb on a cracked floor catching light from a window will cause that light to shine into the chamber below - take her to that chamber and walk into the light, and you'll reveal her to be Blind the Thief.
- Disconnected Side Area: The Swamp of Evil in the Dark World, which even has a sign indicating "No Entry, No Escape." You have to reach it via a transporter tile in the Light World, which can only be reached via the Flute. The Ice Palace before requires a similar trick. According to the lore, it's because the swamp was overflowing with rain water that threatened to flood the rest of the land, so a mountain range was put up to prevent that from happening.
- Earlier in the game, there's Dark Death Mountain, which falls under the "sneak preview of a later area" category.
- Distress Call: Zelda psychically sends one to Link and his uncle.
- Doppleganger Attack: One of Agahnim's moves used in the second battle within Ganon's Tower.
- The Dragon: Agahnim serves as one to Ganon, and marks the first time in the series that Ganon has someone doing his dirty work for him. It is subverted late in the game - Agahnim is actually Ganon in a form which can travel to the Light World, though only with limited powers. On the other hand, the way Ganon reveals himself (his spirit rising out of Agahnim's body, with the latter not even disappearing when Ganon turns into a bat) evokes an image of Demonic Possession.
- Dual World Gameplay: A Link to the Past is the first game in the Zelda series to do this, and the first to employ the specific Light World/Dark World variant.
- Dummied Out: In the original and Virtual Console releases, a skull statue was apparently planned for Dark World dungeons (most likely Skull Woods due to its name), and is found unused in the tilesets for those dungeons; the large skulls at the entrance of Yarna Desert in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening bear some resemblance to them. The GBA Updated Rerelease uses them proper in the Palace of the Four Sword, a Bonus Dungeon located in the Dark World.
- Easter Egg: The Chris Houlihan room is an extremely well-concealed chamber filled with Rupees that was named for the winner of a contest in Nintendo Power. Typically, the game only sends you there when an error occurs in sending you to wherever you were supposed to go; in certain types of speedplay, runners who can perform the glitch at will generally do so for a quick Rupee source.
- End of the World Special: Link gets the full Triforce at the end of the game, and uses his wish on it to restore things to normal.
- Epunymous Title: This is the case for the English version of the title.
- Escort Mission: Quite a few occur throughout the game.
- The first instance is at the very beginning: after releasing Princess Zelda from her cell, you have to guide her to a secret passage hidden behind the throne of the castle that leads through the unlit sewers and into a sanctuary - thankfully, you've more than likely picked up the lamp beforehand.
- Opening the Palace of Darkness requires you to escort a monkey to the entrance from the small forest maze you find them in - but they'll only follow you if given money. It's 10 Rupees for them to tag along each time you meet them, and once you reach the door you'll need another 100 Rupees to get him to open it; get hit at any point or refuse, and you'll have to track the monkey down again.
- In an optional example, one of the dwarven blacksmiths that's gone missing can be found in the Dark World south of the Village of Outcasts, turned into a frog and trapped behind some heavy rocks. Link can use the Titan's Mitts to lift the stones and escort him back to his shop in the Light World - he can then pay ten Rupees to have his Master Sword upgraded into the Tempered Sword, which also requires a bit of a wait (during which you can use other weapons like the Magic Hammer if you need to defend yourself).
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: You have to bribe a cute little monkey to open the entrance to the Palace of Darkness.
- Evil Chancellor: Agahnim. According to the manual, after he miraculously fixed the numerous ills Hyrule was suffering at the time when he appeared, he more or less became the King's right hand man. From there, he rose to become the de facto ruler and finally "eliminated" the King.
- Evil Sorcerer: Agahnim and Ganondorf.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Ganon's Tower.
- Faceless Eye: Several of the bosses, most notably Kholdstare and Vitreous, who is nothing but a bunch of eyes in a pile of slime.
- False Innocence Trick: This is how you trigger the boss fight with the boss underneath Kakariko Village. You are told he kidnapped one of the maidens, and in some way you can say he did it, but he also disguised himself as her.
- Fanfare: The first game in the series to play the overworld theme as such.
- Likewise, the ending fanfare.
- Fisher King: The Golden Land became the Dark World in reflection of Ganondorf's dark desires.
- Fisher Kingdom: The Dark World transforms everyone into a different species (except for Link, once he acquires the Moon Pearl).
- Free Sample Plot Coupon: Unlike in the game, the manga adaptation has Link getting the first pendant from Sahasrahla, instead of getting it after some difficult dungeon exploration as in the case of the other two pendants.
- Game Mod: Parallel Worlds, Tower of the Triforce, and Goddess of Wisdom, among others. Made possible with Hyrule Magic and Black Magic editing programs.
- Gotta Catch Em All: The three pendants in the Light World, and the seven maidens in the Dark World.
- Grappling Hook Pistol: The Hookshot, the first time such an object shows up in a Zelda game.
- Guide Dang It: Two puzzles of note in Dark World dungeons have hideously obscure solutions, the only way to really find them being (a) Try Everything or (b) consult an online guide. What makes them reach the Guide Dang It level is that the solutions to these are not even hinted at during the course of the game and that they're completely arbitrary things to do, especially the first one.
- In a way, the game does sort of hint at the solution for the statue puzzle: The statue is shaped like an Eyegore, an enemy first encountered in the Eastern Palace, one kind of which (the red kind) can only be killed with an arrow to the eye.
- It's much, much worse in some of the fan-made hacks. In Parallel Worlds, the combination for the Lost Woods isn't even hinted at in the game. The only ways to find it out are by trial and error or by looking it up on the internet (and this is even lampshaded in the game, which flat-out tells you the combination is nowhere in the game). And if you have the misfortune to enter the Ice World without getting the Cane of Byrna (which is only accessible through the Lost Woods), good luck beating the game. You won't be able to return to your homeworld until you've climbed the Parallel Tower, which will be quite a chore without the Cane. Some of the other dungeons are probably impossible without it (or the Magic Cape, which is in the Ice World, but is probably itself close to impossible to obtain without the Cane of Byrna).
- Heart Container: There's 11 total: the one obtained in the Sanctuary Chest (unique in that it also fully heals you), plus one from each Pendant and Crystal boss. You can also gain six more for a total 20 hearts of life by finding Pieces of Heart, which make their debut here - four of them amount to an extra Heart Container, and there are 24 scattered throughout the game.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Link is declared a criminal after he rescues Zelda in the introductory dungeon. Some citizens of Kakariko Village will actually call the guards if Link gets too close to them.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Apparently played straight, then subverted. Agahnim is the main baddie through much of the early part of the game, but revelations from rescued maidens reveal that Ganon is behind it all, and finally Ganon himself says Agahnim was his alter-ego, meaning he was a disguise for Ganon, making Ganon the man behind himself - so there was no new villain, just an old villain in a new hat. Then again, the method that Ganon reveals himself does imply Demonic Possession.
- Honest Axe: Used to upgrade the boomerang and basic shield at the beginning of the game, and to obtain the best sword and the Silver Arrows at the end. Also a way to get free magic-refilling potions if you throw in an empty bottle.
- Iconic Logo: The first time the series' distinctive logo appears, with the title in front of a sword and shield. Interestingly enough, the original Japanese version had a far more plain in-game logo with the title in front of the Triforce on a black background.
- I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Averted. The guards who are called to arrest Link in Kakariko Village are no different from any of the other soldiers you've fought to that point, though the rarely-summoned trident-wielding variety is noticeably stronger.
- Improvised Weapon: To defeat Agahnim, you need to use the Master Sword to deflect his magic blasts back at him - but in a pinch the bug catcher's net will work just as well. Not that you'll be able to fight Agahnim if you don't already have the Master Sword, since the dungeon you fight him in requires that you have it before you can enter.
- The use of unorthodox "weapons" against some major bosses is a recurring trend in the series from this point on - see also Tennis Boss, where this and most of the later examples fall. One example is Twilight Princess, where you can use the Fishing Rod to distract Ganondorf during the final duel, allowing for a couple of free hits.
- Infinity-1 Sword: The Tempered Sword is a result of skilled blacksmiths taking the legendary Master Sword and improving it. It even makes a more forceful-sounding sound effect when slashed, and is a pretty solid source of damage for dealing with some of the later Dark World enemies and bosses.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The Golden Sword, which does twice the damage of the Master Sword and dispatches most non-boss enemies in two hits tops.
- One fansite did an analysis of all the swords in the entire series and found the Golden Sword to be the strongest of them all.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Par for the course for The Legend of Zelda.
- There's various ledges that're only one-way, and the inside of dungeons have short "walls" that cannot be walked over, but allow projectiles to travel past them.
- There's also Insurmountable Waist-Height Stones, which can't be picked up without the Power Glove from the Desert Palace; darker-colored stones require the Titan's Mitt.
- Bumpers bounce you and other enemies away upon making contact with them, and at least one bumper in the game serves this purpose, requiring the Magic Cape in order to bypass it.
- Invincible Minor Minion:
- The thieves that hang out in the Lost Woods north of Kakariko Village, and their Dark World equivalent in the Village of Outcasts, can't be killed and most weapons will only stun them briefly.
- The rodent-like Deadrock enemies that roam the Light World's Death Mountain can't be killed normally; they simply turn to stone after being struck. However, sprinkling Magic Powder on them or using the Quake Medallion changes them into Slimes, which are the least dangerous monsters in the game.
- In the dungeons, the sparks and fire "snakes" that travel along blocks or walls in the dungeons cannot be damaged at all.
- Invisibility: The Magic Cape can be used to avoid damage and bypass the dreaded Spikes of Doom and certain other obstacles.
- Item Get: When Link gets a new item, he usually holds it above his head while victory music plays. This is even Lampshaded by a merchant, who tells Link to hold the bottle he just bought above his head because it's good for business.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: There's one locked treasure chest whose only key is supposedly inside the chest, and you can never open it. Fortunately, you can drag it with you until you find a master lockpicker.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Your uncle survives long enough to give you his sword, but dies as he tries to tell you something very important: "Zelda is your..." He gets better after you beat the game, presumably because of Link's wish on the Triforce. Averted in the GBA re-release, which alters his "dying" speech to tell Link that it's his destiny to save Zelda and that he really enjoyed their time together. See also the Mythology Gag entry.
- Last of His Kind: Link is "perhaps" the last one to carry the bloodline of the Knights of Hyrule.
- Literal Genie: When Ganon obtained the Triforce, he wished to rule the world. The Triforce could not judge between good and evil, and so made him the ruler of the Dark World, where he was then imprisoned.
- Living MacGuffin: Seven of them, each trapped inside a crystal. Poor girls.
- The Lost Woods: As with Death Mountain, the Trope Namer returns, and it's significantly foggier and more mysterious than in the first game. Its Dark World counterpart, Skeleton Forest, is creepier and more confusing, and also shares its ominous-yet-catchy music with the Dark World's Death Mountain.
- Magic Mirror: Obtained from the old man on Death Mountain, the Mirror is used to create portals from the Dark World to the Light World.
- Magic Music: The Flute. Playing it near a statue in Kakariko frees a bird that is able to fly Link to one of eight preset locations in Hyrule (with an unlockable ninth one located where Turtle Rock is set in the Dark World). The Ocarina of Time and other ocarinas appearing in the series use the same design as this flute.
- Magic Wand: The Fire and Ice Rods and the and the Staves of Byrna and Somaria.
- Mercy Invincibility: As is standard. In addition to occurring after taking damage, you also get this when you come out of a portal or flute-transport, which is very important since you can easily drop on top of enemies/spikes/whatever. Mercy Invincibility also occurs if you are standing on lowered blue/red blocks and raise them by hitting a crystal switch - this is done to prevent the player from being stuck in a solid object.
- Mirror Boss: The Palace of the Four Sword exclusive to the Game Boy Advance Updated Rerelease has a set of Dark Links formed from the cursed components of the Four Sword as its main bosses]. All four have their own copies of the primary endgame items, and move similarly to Link; they will run at Link and try to slash at him, and even use the Pegasus Boots against him. Each subsequent Dark Link adds an additional attack to the previous one's strategy - the second uses a Hurricane Spin, the third adds a jumping down-thrust, and the fourth has twice as much health as the others with the ability to fire sword beams.
- Mirror Mook: Koppis (known as Green and Red Goriyas in English versions, despite being unrelated to the boomerang-wielding monsters seen in the other games) mirror Link's movements in opposite directions, and the red ones shoot fireballs if they make eye contact with Link. Both are weak to arrows from the Bow.
- Mission Control: Sahasrahla acts as this during your quest to obtain the Pendants and subsequent adventures into the Dark World.
- Mission Pack Sequel: Ancient Stone Tablets, the BS Satellaview Japan-only sequel for the Super Famicom add-on. Instead of Link, you control a different hero who must complete 8 dungeons to regain tablets needed to seal again Ganon. Also, you'll have to complete the game under 4 hours. It has a score counter and full voice acting for Zelda and Sahasrahla (Lost Forever in the backup ROMs found) - the duo guide you throughout the game with gameplay advice, sometimes triggering the Medallions' spells or giving you infinite bombs/arrows/hearts for a couple of minutes.
- Money for Nothing: The game can be finished with a minimum of 710 rupees, but the game loves giving out huge sums of money in treasure chests and dungeons throughout the second half - it's just as well, since there's a convenient and useful Money Sink in the Pond of Happiness. However, this is exhaustible - once you've finished upgrading your bombs and arrows you'll basically have nothing to spend money on except medicine.
- If you're particularly obsessive about collecting Rupees, you'll probably have already bought everything you can buy before roughly the fourth Dark World dungeon; the Super Bomb only becomes accessible after completing the fifth and sixth dungeons, but only costs 100 Rupees.
- Mythology Gag: In the GBA re-release, Link's Uncle's dying speech is rewritten to omit the infamous line, "Zelda is your..." - in The Palace of the Four Sword, Link encounters a stronger Blind the Thief, who appears impersonating his uncle and says the original dialogue before apparently "dying" and transforming into his true form. The reference is somewhat lost in the American localization which translates the original words more accurately:
"You must rescue Princess Zelda... You are... the Princess's... ... ... ..."
- Not the Intended Use: The bug-catching net can reflect Agahnim's fireballs.
- Opening the Sandbox: After you complete the first Dark World dungeon, the game is as linear as the original Zelda.
- In fact, completing the first dungeon isn't even necessary: once you have the Magic Hammer from it, the sandbox is bust wide open. You can even leave King Helmasaur for until you've gotten everything else in the game short of the Red Mail and a single Heart Container (a practice this troper, admittedly, has made standard when playing this game).
- Pants-Free: The official artwork for this game makes it pretty clear that Link's not wearing any pants underneath that tunic.
- Platform Hell: Not the original game, which is one of the easier entries in the series, but some of the mods. Parallel Worlds and Goddess of Wisdom are probably impossible without save states. Two examples: There are several points in Parallel Worlds where you actually need to use bombs to propel yourself forward across gaps. This wouldn't in itself be so difficult, but the platforms you need to propel yourself onto are only a few blocks wide, and you need pixel-perfect positioning to be able to propel yourself onto the platform and not into the abyss between platforms. There's basically no way to do this except trial and error (or good old fashioned cheating). Meanwhile, there are two points early in Goddess of Wisdom where you need to fight bosses from the Dark World. Unfortunately, you can't have the Master Sword at this point of the game, and LttP expects you to have it before you fight them, so the regular sword only deals damage from a charged sword attack (arrows will also work on one of the bosses, but you only have a limited number, although the game is nice enough to give you more; in the other, not only do you need to use the Hookshot in addition to charged sword attacks but your space to manoeuvre is severely limited). Beyond this, they deal four hearts damage each time they hit you (there are no blue or red mail in this hack).
- Player Nudge: If you fall off the platform when fighting Ganon, you see a telepathic tile telling you that you need Silver Arrows to defeat him, which is fortunate since it's to miss those while collecting Crystals. However, thanks to what may be a glitch, if you repeatedly spin attack Ganon while he's attempting to teleport in the last stage of the fight, you can defeat him without Silver Arrows - it takes about five times more hits, though.
- Prequel: To the first two games.
- Prison Episode: Early in the game, you break into prison to save princess Zelda.
- Ribcage Ridge: Not really a ridge, but the Dark World's counterpart to The Lost Woods, Skeleton Forest, is named as such because of the various large skeletons, which are in fact ribcages. Fortunately, whatever they came from is never seen.
- Schmuck Bait: "Curses to anyone who throws something into my circle of stones." You have to do it at least once to beat the game, though doing it again is rather funny.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Both worlds have an example. In the Light World, the legendary Master Sword is sealed in its pedestal unless the three pendants are gathered. In the Dark World, Link has to rescue the seven maidens, who are descended from the seven sages in the game's backstory, due to the fact that Agahnim has imprisoned them in crystals scattered in the dungeons of the Dark World.
- Second Coming: Agahnim sets himself up as this in the back story. In a period where Hyrule is simultaneously ravaged by plagues, famine, drought, and other hardships, he appears out of nowhere and works miracles to set things right. He becomes a hero to the people and the King declares him to be the second coming of the Sages of old and appoints him his priest and second-in-command. Granted, he does herald the return of someone from the past...
- Sequel Difficulty Drop: While not an easy game, it's still easier than the first two - still, be mindful of enemies that can deal a full heart of damage while your Heart Container count is still low.
- Sequence Breaking: You have a lot of freedom in the Dark World to complete the dungeons in the order you want, though the Magic Hammer from the Palace of Darkness has to be grabbed first. there is an expected order of Dark World dungeons, but you're not held to that order as strictly as in the Light world, though most of the Dark World dungeon's items are required to either access or finish Turtle Rock (which is labeled in-game as being the last dungeon).
- In particular, completing Misery Mire (6th dungeon) before the Ice Palace (5th dungeon) gives you the Cane of Somaria, which creates a block when swung. This almost completely eliminates the need to do the block puzzles in the Ice Palace and makes it a lot easier to complete; it doesn't hurt that the Ice Palace's treasure is just an armor upgrade, which simply reduces the damage Link takes rather than being used to get past obstacles or solve puzzles, so there's no rush to do it before the one listed after it due to this example of Sequence Breaking.
- The trick with the Pegasus Boots of running into a wall and being thrown back also makes the Hookshot unnecessary in certain places. Ancient Stone Tablets actually makes it mandatory for a few heart containers (including the first one visible in the game). Bombs can also be exploited, since the distance they throw you upon exploding can allow Link to cross gaps.
- You don't actually need the Master Sword if you know how to do the Death Mountain descent in a particular way. Complete the Tower of Hera up until the Moon Pearl, escape said dungeon without bothering with the boss, descend... And start the Dark World progression as normal. You can upgrade to the Tempered Sword directly from your Uncle's sword, get Ether for the Misery Mire. The only thing that you can't actually get is the Piece of Heart from the Lumberjack's tree in the Light World, but you're otherwise good to go.
- Shifting Sand Land: The Desert of Mystery.
- Shout-Out: The boss of the Desert Palace is a trio of worms named Lanmolas. They resemble the Spice Worms who live in the desert planet Arrakis from Dune.
- Spikes of Doom: Averted; spikes only do minor damage.
- Stripped to the Bone: In the game's intro, the King of Hyrule, recently "eliminated" by Agahnim, is shown seated on his throne as a skeleton.
- Swamps Are Evil: It's even called the Swamp of Evil.
- Sword Beam: Link, fill up your hearts, so you can shoot your sword of power...
- Sword of Plot Advancement: The Master Sword makes its series debut - you're finally worthy to wield the legendary weapon, probably a good time to go Save the Princess then, eh?
- Tactical Suicide Boss: Agahnim's boss fights require you to reflect fireball-like magic bolts back at him - he also fires a ring of blue spheres that split on impact, as well as unblockable lightning that he only shoots from the top of the screen, but will always mix in those fireballs so you have a chance to defeat him. When you meet him again in the Dark World, he generates two transparent copies of himself that only use the magic bolts and he no longer uses the lightning attack; this means that the second fight can actually end up being easier.
- Take Up My Sword: Link's Uncle gives him the sword and shield he was carrying, marking the proper beginning of his quest.
- Tele Frag: Averted - if you teleport via Magic Mirror from the Dark to Light Worlds, you'll be ported back to the Dark World if you wind up inside a solid object. This can be annoying if you first teleport from a spot next to a solid object in the Dark World; should you approach the sparkling gateway from the wrong side, you get forced back to the Light World to try again.
- Tennis Boss: The boss fight with Agahnim is one of the oldest examples, and would start a trend in Zelda games - Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess allowed Link to use empty bottles to reflect Ganon and/or Phantom Ganon's attacks in the same manner.
- Tube Travel: In the Turtle Rock dungeon.
- The Un-Reveal: A mild example - we never do learn exactly what Link wishes when he touches the Triforce. Clearly it involves restoring Hyrule to its former glory, but it would have been kind of neat to see his actual choice of words.
- Underground Monkey: Stronger varieties of soldiers simply have differently colored armor. Interestingly enough, the color coincides with the colors of Link's own armor upgrades obtained later in the game (green being the standard version, blue being stronger than green, and red being the strongest). The Dark World's version of soldiers, Taros/Taurus, also comes in red and blue varieties, though the red ones are rarer, and unlike the red soldiers they wield tridents instead of spears.
- Unique Enemy:
- The weird blimp-like Octoballoon on the southern shore of Lake Hylia is the only one of its kind; the Updated Rerelease for the GBA adds another one in the Bonus Dungeon Palace of the Four Sword.
- Lynels only appear on two screens of Death Mountain in the Dark World.
- There are also a few dungeon-specific monsters, such as the Freezors found in the Ice Palace and the antlion-like Devalants in the Desert Palace.
- Updated Rerelease: The Game Boy Advance version, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords, released in 2002. This release added voice clips for Link (taken from Young Link in Ocarina of Time), as well as a Bonus Dungeon and a new riddle sidequest for the Hurricane Spin that's unlocked after beating Four Swords.
- Useless Useful Stealth: Averted. The invisibility from the Magic Cape is quite useful to go through certain boss fights and other situations without taking any damage.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: This marks the first appearance of Cuccos and the punishments that can occur if you attack them repeatedly - in this case, a swarm of invincible Cuccos will fly across the screen for several seconds, dealing contact damage to Link.
- Villain-Beating Artifact: The Silver Arrows are needed to defeat Ganon and usually cannot be obtained until the last dungeon is unlocked, though they're pretty good at vaporizing other vulnerable bosses and enemies.
- Warp Whistle: The Flute.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Hey Mothula, have a look at this cute little bee I've found!
- Weather Control Machine: The Ether Medallion functions this way to open one dungeon.
- Where It All Began: You have to return to Hyrule Castle to enter its tower and confront Agahnim, and you're transported to the Pyramid of Power location in the Dark World afterward - once you obtain the Crystals and defeat Agahnim a second time, you pursue Ganon back to the peak as a setup for the Final Boss.
- World-Healing Wave: With the help of the Triforce.
- You Are Too Late: Agahnim decides to wait until Link arrives so that he can send Zelda into the Dark World right in front of him.
- You Gotta Have Pink Hair: If you look closely, Link's hair in this game is pink (though official art shows he's supposed to be a muddy brown). Presumably this is the reason that his rabbit form in the Dark World is also pink. It's unclear if this was intentional or a programming oversight; it was most likely intentional in order to keep Link's head distinguishable when he's standing on dirt or sand.
Do you understand?
- One common method is to go to the right of the Sanctuary, reveal a nearby hole hidden under a bush, then leap into the water without Flippers, then quickly hop into the hole while still under Mercy Invincibility.
- Pulling the statue's tongue in the Ice Palace and shooting the statue's eye in the second temple.
- And, even if you do upgrade to the Tempered Sword then Golden Sword but then decide to complete the Master Sword plot hook at some point you can actually return to the Blacksmiths, upgrade your sword again, then upgrade that. It really is sound.