Review of Zelda: Link’s Awakening


I don’t usually double dip on video games, but for Link’s Awakening I decided to make an exception. It’s my favourite GameBoy title of all time after all. Come to think of it, it’s probably my fave Zelda game too; narrowly beating out the likes of Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker to the number one spot. In this remake of the 1993 classic, players have to help a marooned Link in escaping from Koholint Island. To leave the isle Link needs to awaken the mysterious Wind Fish, who slumbers within a giant egg situated atop Koholint’s tallest peak. Unfortunately for him the only alarm clock that can wake said fishy are eight mystical instruments, which are each stored in monster infested dungeons.


Zelda: Link’s Awakening is exactly what a remake should be. The game is virtually identical to the original, but has been beefed up with modern day visuals and several quality of life improvements. My favourite enhancement comes courtesy of the Switch hardware. Thanks to the system’s extra buttons, players no longer need to pause every few seconds to rearrange their inventory. I also appreciated the addition of extra warp points, which makes travelling across Koholint Island much quicker. Content wise this edition contains all the levels from the original GameBoy release, plus a bonus dungeon that was added to the GameBoy Colour re-release a few years later.

Difficulty wise I don’t think Zelda: Link’s Awakening is too tough. The puzzles will stump you for a bit, but are solvable with some thought. Should you get stuck inside a dungeon seek out the owl statutes, as they offer tips on how to overcome certain obstacles. On some occasions, when traipsing through the overworld, it isn’t always clear where Link should go to advance the story. Fear not though, as there are phone booths scattered across the island. You can visit these to ring up an old geezer who will point you in the right direction. Helpful, if perhaps a tad redundant in this modern age where we have been spoiled by free online guides that tell you how to complete any game.

One thing that disappointed me about Link’s Awakening was the Dungeon Creator, which Nintendo promoted in their trailer. When I first saw footage of this feature I got excited about the prospect of constructing Zelda levels. Sadly what we get is no Super Mario Maker. It’s pretty much a glorified sidequest, were you earn rewards by clearing stages assembled from premade chambers. You can’t even share your creations online with other players, which would have given the game some replay value. Pity, as Link’s Awakening is short by Zelda standards. You can complete the whole adventure in under ten hours. Modern gamers may expect more content, but you need to understand that back in the day squeezing a game of this size into an 8-bit cartridge was impressive.


My rating for Zelda: Link’s Awakening is four stars. The game isn’t quite as epic as I recalled, but was a lot of fun to revisit nonetheless. I dug the cute graphics, the funny characters Link meets and the emotional ending. Should you be one of those players who found Breath of the Wild’s open world to be intimidating I recommend giving Link’s Awakening a try. It’s a more linear experience that focuses on puzzle solving rather than exploration. Like I said earlier, this is a great remake. Developer GREZZO has ported a great game and polished it even further. The only change that I disliked was adding physics to the previously easy crane mini-game. Now, just like a real arcade machine, the claw sometimes drops your prize. How I raged when the Yoshi doll, Link was trying to win, escaped from my grasp.

23 thoughts on “Review of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

    • Link’s Awakening can be completed relatively quickly, when compared to other Zeldas, so it is a bit pricey. I would understand if someone waited for it to go on sale. There’s also the option of buying the cheaper original, even if it is rougher around the ages in terms of controls. Yeah, I have noticed Nintendo releases are more expensive. Often I see a third party games are cheaper on the PS4 store than the Nintendo one.

  1. This one does look fun, even if the dungeon creator is a bit disappointing. I never got around to finishing the original, though at a con last year, my youngest bought it and an original gameboy for herself.

    • Maybe someday Nintendo will release a proper standalone level creator for Zelda, like they have done for Mario. I think it would be popular and would gain them some more online subscriptions, if they included the ability to share levels.

      If you haven’t completed the original Link’s Awakening the remake is worth a bash. The better controls make it less frustrating to pay and some of the extras they have included make beating the bosses easier.

      • Ah, but I have no Switch to play it on. I’m surprised there isn’t a proper creator yet. I mean, I would have thought that the RPGMaker engine could be licensed and adapted for the purpose.

  2. Having never played the original, I really didn’t know what to expect going in, and I ended up being truly delighted! I pretty much ignored the dungeon creator, and I remain terrible at figuring out puzzles in just about any Zelda games, but it played beautifully and looked gorgeous. It’s definitely up there as a favorite game. But I remain stumped about one thing: the various pedestals in people’s houses that were meant to hold…collectibles? I ended up with one that never matched any of them.

    • Glad to hear that you enjoyed the game. When it comes to older titles I worry that they won’t appeal to someone who doesn’t have the nostalgia of playing them back in the day. The pedestals are used for placing the figures you can win from that pesky claw mini-game. The figures are all modeled off Super Mario enemies. I would suggest checking on Youtube to see where each figure goes, as they have to be placed inside particular houses.

      • Oooooh, thanks! I tried the claw game several times, and was roundly terrible at it. But I’ll have to see about the figures. As much as I’m not a completionist, it would be nice to complete each townperson’s decor.

    • The graphics are certainly adorable. A nice change of pace from the more realistic look the third person Zeldas use. Part of the reason why Zelda is popular is because of the puzzle solving. It’s satisfying to work out how get past traps and I enjoy that more than the game’s combat.

  3. Definitely looks like a very pleasant game. Not sure why they had to add the extra stress to the crane though!

    I’ll definitely be getting this game at some point, especially since I’ve never played the original. The short length has made me wait a bit though especially with Pokemon Sword coming out soon. I also like how this version added in all those little guest star homages like the Mario villains. (Unless they were in the original as well)

    • I hate when crane games drop something you have caught. Feels like daylight robbery. I guess they made the mini-game harder so players have a reason to spend their money (it’s very easy to amass rupees in this game).

      The Mario enemies actually appear in the original Link’s Awakening too. My fave is the chain chomp that one of the villagers keeps as a pet dog.

      • In real life that’s why I never do the crane games anymore. They just feel too good to be true with full iPhones and huge gift cards in them. The crane just keeps on dropping em all. At least since getting rupees is easy in the game that helps out a lot

  4. I also thought the price was a little high considering Breath of the Wild retailed (and still retails) for the same price. Although I like the “call for help” lifeline! I don’t know why, but the thought of an adventurer calling up someone and going, “Yeah, hey, I saved all these places… and now I’m lost!” just is funny to me.

    • I’m not surprised to hear about Breath of the Wild’s price. Nintendo products tend to hold their value. Link having to use a helpline is pretty funny. Unlike some other Zelda titles, this game doesn’t treat itself too seriously.

  5. I’ve never played a Zelda game so I can’t make out like I understand what’s going on any time that I see people talking about it but from the trailer and the review, it looks a like a fun game that could help you decompress (except the crane mini game). The nostalgia factor must be a big plus for this game as well.

    • I’m surprised you’ve never played a Zelda title, given how old the series is. The crane game is certainly not relaxing. It’s a glorified slot machine, as you never know when it will let you win.

  6. I actually haven’t finished this game yet (first play through) but am loving it. Nintendo makes charming games so easily! I think this is the perfect game to follow up something so different like BOTW. This feels like a remake of LTTP and all of its traditional mechanics without having to remake it, and also exposing people like me to a great game that we missed the first few times around!

    • This should certainly please fans who prefer a more traditional Zelda experience. Breath of the Wild is an exceptional game, but will scare off those who find open worlds intimidating. Back in the day I was impressed with Link’s Awakening because it felt like a LTTP experience you could play on the go. Quite the feat given the limited power the Gameboy could deliver.

    • You can’t have a Nintendo collection without some Zelda titles. If your gaming time is limited Link’s Awakening is a good option, as it is considerably shorter than Breath of the Wild.

      • Been wanting to check out the original but forgot. This remake is a great reminder to give it a go at some point.

        So I heard. It is a remake of the Gameboy game which was about as long as Link to the Past if I remember correctly.

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