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The Legend of Zelda review, a puzzle game

Link turns himself into paintings and there are other strokes of genius in this fast-paced edition of the popular Zelda franchise. Video courtesy of Nintendo.

The 3DS-exclusive The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds puts an artful spin on the popular game franchise.

Here, Nintendo's fantasy-action hero Link can turn into a painting to explore caverns, dungeons and forests as a movable art object on the wall. Link's primary weapon is still a sword, but with the ability to transform into a stenciled image of himself, the mood of the game shifts. Never before has a Zelda title felt as much like a puzzle game, as dungeons exist less to be raided than solved.

Though meant as a sequel to 1992's A Link to the Past, the new game works as a nostalgia-eschewing stand-alone title. The kingdom and the princess are in peril, but Nintendo often uses story more as a device than a necessity. The game is all about giving players gadgets from a rod that sends Link spinning into the air to a switch-flipping boomerang and finding places where they can be used.

Perhaps the game's greatest asset is pace. A dungeon may need one or two go-rounds, but there's no strict order in completing them. If you simply want to wander the kingdom and chat with a helpful witch or a magical beast who lost her children, feel free to do so.

There are multiple little stories for players to discover in the game, and it's not uncommon to be stuck on one puzzle for 30 to 60 minutes. Players will have to think themselves out of a fix rather than slash their way out.

RATING E for Everyone

PLOT Link turns himself into a painting as he enters new dimensions.

DETAILS Nintendo 3DS, $39.99

BOTTOM LINE A work of art

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