Developer: EAD Nintendo
June 6, 1993 (JP)
August 1993 (NA)
December 1993 (EU)
December 1, 1998 (NA)
December 12, 1998 (JP)
January 1, 1999 (EU)
June 7, 2011
Link’s Awakening brings all of the action and excitement, and of course, storyline into a portable adventure much bigger than the two inch gray cartridges they were packed into. Typically, when gamers see a franchise come to a handheld, we brace for a watered down, wannabe version of the original. With Link’s Awakening, that is far from the case. In fact, this adventure is very close to the title prior to it in scale. Being re-released for the 3DS has given me yet another opportunity to enjoy this timeless classic once more. My review will be covering both the original and the DX version, and I most recently completed it on the 3DS.
The story begins with a red-headed girl named Marin, who finds Link unconscious on the beach. Worried, she brings him back to her hut where she lives with Tarin. When Link awakens, he notices that he is no longer in Hyrule and does not recognize his surroundings. Marin explains that he is on an island by the name of Koholint, and that his boat must have capsized in the water at some point. With his mind a little foggy, he takes his shield from Tarin, and sets off to find a way off the seemingly isolated island. He comes across his sword and is encountered by an owl, who states that the only way off the island is by awakening the Wind Fish. This can only be done by collecting the eight Instruments of the Sirens from the temples on the land. Throughout the course of the game, the story is told and secrets are revealed further by the owl.
Sticking to what the fans love, Nintendo has retained the top-down method of exploration in this game. The old motto ‘don’t fix what’s not broken’ applies here, and works well, especially for this game in particular. The old formula of going from one dungeon to another, fighting a boss, and moving on until the very end has been retained and should not feel unfamiliar to anyone. I did notice, however that the dungeons felt very short (I was beating them very quickly), generally completing the first five to six dungeons in about 15 minutes a piece. This was also not my first time ever playing this game, so I for the most part knew exactly where I had to go.
Fighting enemies and progressing through the game itself is both simple and difficult. I lump these two in the same category, simply for the fact that to get through certain areas of the game, the player is required to use items at given points. Items and basic equipment (sword and shield) are all kept in the inventory screen and assigned to either the A or B buttons. With that being said, there are points in the game where there is a LOT of pressing start just to change equipment to match a given situation. While it isn’t as bad in the beginning of the game, it starts becoming very irritating towards the end. This is especially true when an item is needed to lift an object, an item is needed to jump, and an item is needed to jump further. It can definitely be time consuming (think Iron Boots from Ocarina of Time).
There are also portions of the game that are played in a sort of side scrolling style, similar to Zelda II. These parts are few and far between, but add a very unique way of looking at the game when they are required. Needless to say, it is much more appropriately executed than it was in Zelda II. There are also plenty of items to garner throughout the game, and surprisingly enough, are actually used frequently beyond the dungeon they are obtained in.
Even though the original Game Boy (and later the Game Boy Color) didn’t have much to speak of in terms of sound output, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening had some very beautiful soundtracks to match the game. There were a few tunes that were very catchy, and overall provided a joyous experience while playing. For its time, the graphics weren’t all that bad, but improved tenfold at the release of the DX version. The colors enabled players to see a much more vibrant world, and enemies who would once be lost amongst the olive green screen are now completely identifiable.
This game in particular plays host to a variety of other Nintendo character that can be found throughout the adventure, and is a nice surprise if they are able to be found and recognized. There are also a few side quests that can be done during the progression of the game, and in the DX version, there was an entirely new dungeon offered to players that made the game a little more ‘colorful.’ This dungeon was added in as a way of showing of the capabilities of the then revolutionary Game Boy Color.
Seeing this game re-released for me was very nostalgic, but I am extremely happy to see it available to another generation of gamers. If you own a 3DS and have access/permission to purchase this game, I highly recommend it. It is a very good deal for being such a solid game. The only thing I did not approve of in this newest remake for the 3DS is that pressing start is actually quite awkward. However, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a timeless adventure that will ring the hearts of both old fans and new alike.
Overall: 8.0 / 10.0
+ Original story
+ Big adventure
+ Hold in select when booting the game for the 3DS. ;)
– Item switching is cumbersome
– On the 3DS, pressing start is somewhat of a challenge.
~ Link can jump!
~ Handhelds can have full fledged titles
~ Hyrule isn’t the only place for adventure