Seedling Is Zelda: Link To The Past In Your Browser

By Nathan Grayson on July 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Wow. I just spent an hour with Seedling, an incredibly overt love letter to SNES-era Zelda games that just sprouted up on Newgrounds, and it’s a pint-sized wonder. To call it a Zelda clone would be unfair, because “clone” immediately brings to mind notions of soulless piggybacking, and that couldn’t be further from the truth here. This brilliant little freebie has its own meticulously crafted world, mythology, soundtrack, sense of humor, and – at least from what I’ve played – emphasis on hands-off exploration that captures the spirit of Nintendo classics just so. And that’s something even Nintendo arguably has trouble doing these days. Go play it, or – if you must – read a few more thoughts of mine after the break.

By and large, Seedling feels a lot like a missing link in Link To The Past’s family. In short, that means a basic storyline, simplistic sword fighting, collecting items to solve dungeons, and tons of block-pushing puzzles. Granted, there are other sorts of puzzles too, and though I haven’t even come close to being stumped, this definitely isn’t an unintelligent game. It’s proven to be very good at feeding me little “aha” moments – like when I encountered a row of enemies that’d instantly charge me if I entered their line of sight, only to notice a block nearby that I could push and trap each of them against. It was simple, sure, but pretty clever nonetheless.

Seedling also puts a couple twists on the Zelda formula that actually improve on the originals. (Admittedly, it’s been, you know, more than 20 years, so I suppose that’s to be expected.) For one, once I color-coded collected a key, it was dangling around in my pocket for good – always able to open corresponding doors. No impossibly brittle keys taking one-and-done trips to the magical (and probably very overcrowded) key graveyard in the sky.

Also, health automatically refilled every time I entered a new room. This allows Seedling to make each individual area a lot harder, because once it’s solved, I’m right as rain. On top of that, it drives a gloriously gleaming sword right through the heart of any frustration, because failure’s rewarded with the opportunity to instantly try again.

Lastly – and this is the tiniest thing – but, once I got the sword, movement became a total joy. Holding an arrow key in any direction and attacking results in a repeatable dash that feels all at once natural and empowering. Basically, I don’t even walk normally anymore. I just dash everywhere. But it’s one of those little places where you can tell this game was crafted with obsessive amounts of care.

So, in short, I really dig Seedling, and I’ll definitely be spending more time with it in the coming days. Granted, if you’re not into block-pushing and other such hallmarks of days gone by, this probably won’t change your mind. Thus far, though, it’s caressed my nostalgia gland just enough while also making everything feel fresh again. I’m glad gaming as a whole has evolved far beyond this point, but there’s nothing wrong an incredibly fond look back every once in a while.

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35 Comments »

  1. marcusfell says:

    aLttP was my favorite game growing up (how young I am) and this is definitely worth checking out.

  2. kaabii says:

    Not a big fan of the “retro” graphics, chiptune soundtrack, and the even easier than Zelda gameplay. Good for a flash game, I guess.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Oof, man, to each is own but your breaking my balls here. You wrote “I just happened to not like this game” but it read like “I don’t like fun or puppies”

      Eye of the beholder, I guess.

      • RakeShark says:

        I like this kind of game and fun, but not puppies.

        • eks says:

          You don’t like puppies?

          I don’t think I could ever trust a person that dislikes puppies.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Not everyone has the same game history arc, as universal as it may seem. I went directly from arcade games to (early) computer games. No consoles other than 8bit Ataris (which were really early computers), so that entire swath of gaming has no resonance here whatsoever.

        • Alextended says:

          It’s not nostalgia that makes those games great, you’ll probably do well for yourself to play some of the best of those early consoles, or at least newer games that are considered worthy sequels if you can’t stand some of their outdated aspects, for their unique fun factor. There aren’t really many Zelda-likes or even Mario-likes (nope, not every game where you jump is the same, so Super Meat Boy doesn’t negate the value of Super Mario Bros. 3) for the PC, so it’s not like you’ve played similar or more to your liking games of the same style. Expand your horizons etc. Many early JRPGs and SRPGs are great too, even if they’re so different and don’t have much of what people like about CRPGs. Not to mention shmups and all sorts of arcade games that companies like SEGA didn’t publish much of on PC back then. There’s a wealth of quality fun you’ve missed out on.

  3. Dariush says:

    …Why would they bind a link to SOUNDTRACK to a hotkey?! WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT???!!!

  4. Monkeh says:

    You really think I have time for f2p games while the Summer Sale is already increasing my (paid-for) backlog on Steam. :P

    • Baines says:

      Steam sale seems pretty lackluster this time around, so I’ve plenty of time for free games.

  5. Greggh says:

    Screw this article, I’m playing this right now :D

  6. rockman29 says:

    Why not just play ALttP on SNES9x?

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Because that would be illegal and PC gamers, especially ones such as myself, never commit acts of digital piracy.

      http://i0.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/005/882/I%20lied.jpg

      • buzzmong says:

        Only illegal if you don’t own the originals.

        • Suits says:

          lolwut^

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            The idea here is you purchase a super nintendo game. Then you plug the thing into some gadget. Then you use the gadget to copy the bits and bytes out of the cartridge to a flash device or over USB or somehow to your own computer (this is totally legal!). Then you run the game under an emulator.

            Do you know know “wut”?

          • Phasma Felis says:

            In the US at least, it is legal to run an emulator, and it is legal to have personal backup copies of data you own in any medium. Thus, it’s legal to emulate games that you legitimately own.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I do so wish Nintendo would just sell me their classics on Steam or similar. They could bundle a high quality emulator, such as the one they use for their Wii sales.

        Maybe they think I should buy a Wii. But I’m not going to. The dirty truth is I’ll keep enjoying their illicitly acquired treasures until they make it convenient for me to send them money. Everyone loses. :-(

    • Baines says:

      Alternatively, there is Zelda Classic. It might not be Link to the Past, but it is the Zelda game engine recreated on PC, with a ton of player created “quests”.
      http://www.zeldaclassic.com/

  7. Tacroy says:

    I’m kinda getting the impression that I shouldn’t be killing boss monsters, but I’m also completely lost as to what to do after getting the shield.

  8. arrjayjee says:

    If it’s any consolation Nathan, Miyamoto and Aonuma have also the series has gotten hand-holdy and slow to start and are working on getting back to the “figure it out for yourself” style of the original games. Personally, the open world original is still my favourite, simply because you really could just wander off and get well and truly lost, and end up surrounded by baddies that would rip and tear your face from your skull.

  9. droenn says:

    This is pretty fun. Just wish I could play it in a larger screen. Plus the dash ability is a little useless since you end up injuring yourself if you dash into enemies while swinging your sword.

  10. Phantoon says:

    Can’t find the fragment that’s one from the top on the very left.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Unfortunately, the position of the fragments on that screen is determined randomly.

      There is one fragment in an easily overlooked cave. The entrance is on the same screen where the feather can be found, in the upper right corner. Maybe it’s that one?

      If not, maybe this helps:
      http://jayisgames.com/archives/2012/07/seedling.php#walkthrough
      (There is a list of the fragment locations below the walkthrough)

      • Phantoon says:

        Already got that one, but the link should help. Thanks!

        Aha. Missed a kind of obvious one in the final dungeon.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    What a nice little game.

  12. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    …hands-off exploration? Does the game explore by itself?

  13. Alextended says:

    Good game, A’ for effort, great achievement, praise praise praise, etc.

    But it’s really nowhere near as tightly designed and paced as real Zelda (even most post-SNES) games, from the way information is given to the player (via text or visual or audio cues) to the actual gameplay of the dungeons, bosses and other challenges.

    I’m not trying to take from the guy’s (guys’?) results but at the same time credit should be given to the various Zelda teams at Nintendo (and Capcom for some of the games) without promoting delusions that cheaply done indie/homebrew projects like this reach their quality. It reminds me of some mainstream gaming websites’ talk of random indie platform games being more worthwhile than New Super Mario Bros. or Donkey Kong Country Returns just because they pack more levels for much less money or because they have quirky art styles that appeal to the writer without acknowledging the obvious gap in gameplay quality, not to mention that they likely wouldn’t have existed at all without Mario.

    Although that was done in a far more aggressive manner unlike this discussion, I think it’s worth mentioning. Anyway, I think every aspiring designer (and gamer looking for fun) should fully explore the various Nintendo staples so that they can see and understand what makes them great rather than believe they’ve understood all that makes them what they are by playing clones like this or just sampling the basic game mechanics but not how they’re used throughout a full, awesome game.

    PS: again, this is great, I’d also love a downloadable version so that I don’t have to keep cookies or whatever just to be able to continue after cleaning my PC.

  14. Suits says:

    A Giant tree that is dying, where have i heard this before.. ;)

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Hmm, why, now that you mention it, it is rather familiar! Let’s see, where could I possibly have…

      Oh. Oh dear Lord. Are you saying that Seedling borrows gameplay elements from the Zelda series?!? NOTHING IN THE ABOVE ARTICLE COULD POSSIBLE HAVE PREPARED ME FOR THIS REVELATION.

  15. Phasma Felis says:

    It’s reasonably fun, but I’m disappointed by how pathetically easy the combat is, especially the bosses. The first one is a motionless statue that occasionally moves its shield out of the way, pauses, then swings its sword; if you whack it before then, it stops its attack, and if you do that twice more, the fight’s over. It never once moves or does anything interesting or challenging. The later bosses are a little more interesting, but out of the five I’ve met so far I think only two killed me even once.

    Also, pretty disappointed by the sword dash Nathan mentioned. It takes you about three tiles. Link to the Past’s unstoppable-force impression was much more satisfying.

  16. beema says:

    “People told me the woods were a bad place to open a bar… they were right”
    LOL

    this is a wonderful little game

    edit: I just beat the game! WOOOO AH… oh shit… it’s 4pm and I still need to do work. Damn you, internet!