update 2: things have been going steadily downhill since my first update. ALttP is doing the same thing that TP did, which is giving me this large world to explore but preventing me from going where I want to go, and forcing me to search where the devs intended me to go (I'm freeing the maidens ATM). Why, after the fantastic experience upon first being set free on the overworld, would they do this?
It also slowly dawned on me that this is all the overworld the game has. I thought, perhaps naively, given the HW of the time, that there would be much more overworld to explore later in the game.
Still, at least the gameplay has remained mechanically fun.
I'd like to add that I have no problem whatsoever with linear games, so long as they focus instead on delivering a solid story and cinematic effect which linearity lends itself to, and waste little time in delivering it. The issue I had with TP is that the good bits were far, far too sparse, hidden under several layers of padding and gimmicks. Example:
The first cutscene with a howling wolf: as the wolf sang and the background music picked up the melody and added to it was truly magical, one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced in gaming. The second time this happened? Not so great. The third, fourth, etc., I just wanted to get it over with as fast as possible. Instead of undermining this great moment by turning it into a formula which always leads to an anticlimactic encounter with some kind of skeleton knight, why not develop it and make it a critical part of the story?