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Review | The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

"How to take classic game, brush it into something beautiful and retain complete spirit of it at the same time. Be sure to check this one out if you missed original, you will simply not regret it."

by Foggy, 13-10-2019,

I was almost 5 when Link's Awakening came out on Gameboy. It was fourth instalment of series and first for handheld game console. Pretty decent game for that time, even ahead of its time. Roughly 26 years later we’ve been rewarded with full remake of the game, rewarded because everything went as it should and it’s a reward for all of us.

How it was and how it is. 

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with some of the Zelda entries, but this alongside of many titles is a top-down perspective puzzle-dungeon adventure you conquer as Link – protagonist of Zelda series. No, he is not Zelda, he is Link. It’s a game that will challenge you on all levels and make you think how to solve each dungeon and how to progress. What is really impressive is the fact that almost every entry is unique in a way. When I first played 3DS Zeldas, the mechanics to blow into the mic to turn of the torches was such a breath-taking moment. I don’t know how they do it over and over again. In a way, Link’s Awakening was that at the time.

Usually story takes place in a kingdom of Hyrule and features princess Zelda, Ganon and other characters that they re-use. This was in a way a runaway from their comfort zone to something a bit different story-wise, although story is so basic and childish that you don’t have to think about it. Even so, idea was that the game resembles and feel like a TV Show Twin Peaks in a way. You start on an island and slowly but surely you are working on your escape route and to reveal all the secrets that the island holds.

On an island with a girl. Links in for some.

Right from the start you will notice gorgeous visuals. Oh, they did such a fine job with the graphics. I really can’t say that cartoons can do better, games are such an art these days. But I also expected as much from their money maker, no way they would let this kind of remake go to waste. It feels fresh and it plays well. First of all, you start bare handed, so go ahead and find your shield and sword. Just after it’s time for some mowing the lawn.

Zelda is that kind of game where you cut the shit up with your sword. Usually it’s the grass, often it’s throwing the pots, and mostly it’s combination of both. It still feels satisfying, plus you need to do it to collect those gems and reveal hidden stairs, items or even enemies. Link’s Awakening is just full of those small secrets and mechanics that you will repeat throughout the whole game. And it just never gets old.

I just love these side scroller rooms.

Quick story recap – Find keys, beat dungeons, unlock skills and find items that will help you on your way, collect all instruments and hatch an egg. And we are done. What matters is what follows on that journey.

First, you have no idea what awaits. You will unlock jump. Hmm, yes, I saw some holes on the way. Ok, back there, jump across, new dungeon. Oh, look, sprint ability. Now I can jump even across bigger holes. And so on and so on…The world is in a way so small, but yet it always lets you explore bit by bit with your current set of items and abilities.

When you come back later you can get hidden stuff and reach otherwise un-reachable areas that will make your backtracking worthwhile. That is what makes all these games so good, they use given so wise and yet so humble but in a fun way. It’s really easy to get stuck as well, you need to memorize where you were missing some skill and come back to continue from there later on. I think it will just never get old.

A small lepricorn stealing heart pieces and destroying objects in houses - perfect nightmare.

I just loved what game offered and you have to know that even though maybe now that’s nothing you already didn’t see, but that is the same game that was out 26 years ago. This is just eye candy remake of already great game done right.

Alright, I did some exploration as I really don’t remember original so much. Up there Gameboy had 2 buttons to perform attacks and such. Switch has 4 and therefore it will ease up your pain of changing items you use at time. You will still need to change what you need on certain places, but its far more better having double the buttons.

Movement is fluent, natural and game is quite easy like the original. If you play on normal mode that is. There is a Hero mode, which you can try if you feel up for the task. There will be no fairies in dungeons, no heal items. I was not feeling that mode, just wanted to have fun so I played game normally.

Boss battles are cool and...easy.

Some other changes and fixes include frustrating dialogue windows which occurred when you approached stones or tents which you cannot pass through until you get power to do so. Now they will not pop up on approach, but only when you inspect them. That was just time consuming and frustrating.

You will love how smooth the game plays; the whole map is like one big area without any screen transitions that occurred in first version. You can collect 20 instead of 14 Health Containers, plus there are empty bottles in which you can put fairies to replenish health when you are low and there are none around. That combines with expanded mini games which contains more rewards for you to win. They also upgraded boss battles to be a bit harder, but they are still easy, although you can now finally see some difference on some bosses when you inflict damage, which was not clear in the original game.

Your own "create your dungeon" part of the game. It was just not for me.

One fun fact that is here and was not in original – you can build your own dungeons and play them. It’s a sort of like a Zelda dungeon builder mode if you want more out of the game. Some heart pieces are obtainable only here, so to collect everything you will need to build and play.

Last thing you will collect will be secret seashells that can open up some cool rewards if you are in that mood to collect everything there is. Oh boy, it will be tricky let me tell you that. Some shells are well hidden and you will need to explore every tiny bit of the game, dig up every inch of ground and think about boundaries and how to cross some. Content is just enough to keep you satisfied and dungeons later are quite long.

Animations are top notch, just look at this.

Well, I personally think this is not the best Zelda there is. Ocarina of time is my all-time favourite. At the same time, I need to grade a game that is now maybe not as unique since there is so much games that are like this, yet this one has mind of its own. I’m grading a game that was out 26 years ago and how well it was remade. And in that aspect, you have every reason to buy it, play it and enjoy it. Damn fine job, damn fun game. Oh, yeah, and music is beautiful. Simply great and suiting. Play that Link, he loves to be played, but hates to be called Zelda.

"Remake at its finest glory."