Best Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past ROM Hacks (Ranked)

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A Link to the Past is one of the most influential games to come out of the Zelda franchise, and it set a precedent for the future of Link’s adventures.

It was released in 1992 to universal acclaim, quickly becoming one of the most-sold titles of the SNES and leaving a mark in history as the quintessential Action-Adventure title of its time.

Its high-quality and position as an iconic title have earned it several re-releases on the GBA, Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, among others, but playing the original on the SNES has an undeniable charm.

If you’re planning on reconnecting with this fantastic title, consider doing so through any of these ROM hacks featuring new stories, new levels, and new gameplay.

Here are our top picks.

 

12. A Link to the Past DX

A Link to the Past DX Game title menu

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Some people are just fine with ALTTP’s classic overworld, dungeons, and storyline – but that doesn’t mean ROM hacking has nothing to offer them.

ALTTP DX is a collection of small QoL improvements and bug fixes. These include the ability to switch between items by pressing L/R and making pots breakable with the sword. You can also use the blade to collect items that are otherwise out of reach.

Other minor improvements include turning while using the Pegasus Boots and stopping the internal death counter from increasing every time you Save and Quit.

Above all else, this ROM hack shines for its enhanced CD-quality soundtrack that freshens-up the experience remarkably.

 

11. A Link to the Past Translation Improvement

A Link to the Past Translation Improvement Game

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Nintendo’s in-house games have always had some of the best localizations in the industry, but they aren’t perfect – and censorship is still a concern.

This Translation Improvement employs the script from ALTTP on the GBA, and a literal translation of the game’s Japanese script, to create a more exact and easy-to-understand translation.

It’s much closer to the Japanese original, letting us peer into what the writers had in mind for Link’s adventure. It’s always nice to get a new perspective on such a great game.

 

10. Zelda Starring Zelda 2

Zelda Starring Zelda 2 Game screenshot

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Not all hacks feature detailed new stories or incredible visual improvements. Some are as simple as adding a new playable character. In this case, that’s Princess Zelda.

This hack replaces Link’s sprite with Zelda’s, and modifies many in-game prompts to match her gender and status. It’s pretty cool if you’ve always wished Zelda got a chance to prove she can take care of herself if need be.

It’s not perfect. And you’ll notice some slight mistakes like the guards at the palace not recognizing you as the princess.

But it’s a great way to slightly switch things up and live the fantasy warrior princess experience.

 

9. Zelda III: Hyrule Explorer

Zelda III: Hyrule Explorer Gameplay

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The third entry in the Legend of Zelda franchise is remarkably linear – and not everyone is satisfied with that.

Hyrule Explorer aims to improve this by removing several hurdles in your path to the game’s many dungeons. That way, you can clear them in the order you prefer.

Stuff like getting the Master Sword still has some thought-out restrictions to keep a sensible progression and force you to clear every dungeon before moving on to the next phase.

If freedom is something you value in a Zelda game, you have to try this out.

 

8. Zelda3 IQ Test: Revenge of the Einstein

Zelda3 IQ Test: Revenge of the Einstein Game

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As its name might suggest, this puzzle-oriented ROM hack is meant to test your intelligence.

It does so by presenting a series of hardcore block puzzles, LoZ style.

It’s the last in a series of brain-training titles by creator PuzzleDude, with Revenge of the Einstein bringing the biggest challenge to your intellect so far.

Some rooms are easier than others, so you’ll get a chance to rest your brain and recover from a mind-numbing puzzle before tackling the next one.

 

7. Zelda3 Cube

Zelda3 Cube Game screenshot

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Creator PuzzleDude brings us a roguelike experience inspired by the movie CUBE.

Link is trapped within a cube made up of 100 rooms of puzzles, intense fights, and everything in-between. If you die, it’s back to square one.

You’ll need to clear the whole thing in one go with no deaths if you wish to free yourself from the Cube and move one with your hero business.

If you’re into Challenge Modes and stuff like the Savage Labyrinth in Wind Waker, you’ll love this.

 

6. A Link to the Past Randomizer

A Link to the Past Randomizer Gameplay

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If you enjoy watching other people play Zelda ROM hacks online, you’ve probably heard of the ALTTP Randomizer – a website that helps you craft a new and unique game every time you use it.

It does so by shuffling the locations of critical items and equipment.

You might get the Fire Rod in the first chest you open, drastically changing your playthrough.

You could also miss it until the very last treasure chest.

The Randomizer lets you choose exactly what to switch around and set certain restrictions to keep the game as playable as possible. You can also set the game’s “goal”, such as defeating Ganon or obtaining 30 Triforce pieces across the region.

You can even start the game in the Dark World rather than the Light World, which is pretty unique.

 

5. Zelda3 PuzzleDude’s Quest

Zelda3 PuzzleDude’s Quest screenshot

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Part of what makes Zelda such a fun game is the balance between action-packed combat, exploration, and challenging puzzles – but some players only care about that last bit.

If you want a ROM hack that’ll challenge your mind, try PuzzleDude’s Quest.

This absorbing hack puts much more emphasis on puzzle-solving than combat. You’ll need a sharp mind to get through these dungeons, and even the overworld is full of barriers that must be lifted by solving puzzles.

These puzzles are pretty challenging and different from Nintendo’s style. So even Zelda veterans might spend a couple of hours stuck in a particularly nasty puzzle.

If you ever get frustrated with any puzzle, take a while to vent by destroying vases and anything else you can get your hands on.

There are plenty of hidden things in this ROM hack, so you’ll benefit significantly from clearing all the clutter you can.

 

4. The Legend of Zelda: Goddess of Wisdom

The Legend of Zelda: Goddess of Wisdom Gameplay

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For a ROM hack that feels like an entirely new game, I’d recommend Goddess of Wisdom.

It features a new and exciting storyline, an expanded Hyrule to explore, and some new puzzles.

This extended Hyrule includes some areas copied from previous games, so they fit right in with ALTTP’s style.

My favorite new gameplay mechanic is the statue puzzles, which has you pushing and dragging statues to place them on pressure plates.

Goddess of Wisdom is an improved version of an older hack by a similar name. It was simplified to make it more accessible to the average player.

Check that out if you want a more significant challenge.

 

3. A Link to the Past Redux

A Link to the Past Redux Game screenshot

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If rather than completely changing your ALTTP, you’d rather just improve it, consider A Link to the Past Redux.

This hack changes many little things to be more in-line with the current Zelda lore.

It also removes some of the censorship applied to the international release.

As such, you’ll see Link is now blonde rather than pink-haired, and Agahnim has a color palette that’s more in-line with his official artwork. The flute is now an “Ocarina”, the Wise Men are called “Sages”, and the Star of David on the Eastern Palace floor has been restored.

It’s a bit like playing the “Definitive Edition” of ALTTP, and it’s great.

 

2. The Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds Gameplay

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One of the most famous hacks for ALTTP is Parallel Worlds, which features a new storyline and a remodeled overworld with some tricky dungeon design that will challenge even the best explorers.

The all-new dungeons are a highlight, but they’re also the worst part of the hack. For every great dungeon, there’s one that’s unfair or simply impossible to enjoy.

That said, the beautiful overworld and updated soundtrack justify giving the game a shot.

Even if you do end up rage quitting eventually.

Or if on the contrary you’re finding it too easy, make sure to collect the seven mysterious tablets scattered across the dungeons.

Completing the set unlocks a second playthrough with greater difficulty, and some other interesting tweaks.

Or alternatively consider the Remodel version which is considerably easier.

 

1. Conker’s High Rule Tail

Conker’s High Rule Tail Gameplay

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Yes, you read that right.

It’s everyone’s favorite squirrel from the N64’s most risqué title.

This is probably the only Zelda ROM hack that would get an Adult Only rating if checked by the ESRB.

It gets raunchy in here – but that’s always been part of Conker’s appeal.

If you wonder how bad it is, consider they made Tingle a drug addict.

Besides the crude humor, the hack features countless game and film references in the same way that Conker’s Bad Fur Day does.

In fact, this hack opens with a text scroll like you’d see in Star Wars.

But the humor and references are far from the hack’s only features. It’s full of new dungeons, items, and an extensive world you’ll have to explore deeply to get the upgrades you’ll need to clear the game.

Expect some crazy hard puzzles as well.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.