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.