The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening will be soon be released for the Nintendo Switch on September 20th, 2019, and I think that makes this the perfect opportunity to talk about where it all started, but with a little something extra. The DX addition included new side quests, and extra dungeon, and most importantly, color!
Originally launched on the Game Boy on June 6th, 1993, then released under the DX tag on December 12, 1998, Link’s Awakening was a game I attached to as a child. I Had the original Game Boy in all of its gray, blocky, glory. However my family eventually upgraded me to the Game Boy Advanced SP and took us to a mom and pop game shop down the road, and let us pick out a few games for my shiny new console. I remember picking up Pokemon Silver, and Link’s Awakening DX. I was 5, 14 years later, how does it hold up?
Link’s Awakening plays just like its other Game Boy siblings, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, which is surprisingly smooth. Link’s walking pace is fine, the world isn’t so big you’d get lost, and it’s full of colorful characters and references to other Nintendo games even. Just like A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda (NES), Link’s Awakening uses a menu based item system, and it feels clunky to say the least. I found myself opening and closing the menu too many times to switch items on the fly. Having two slots, where you could even remove your sword and shield, felt odd, as in other games like Ocarina of Time, your Sword and Shield don’t affect your equipped items. Other than the menus, Link’s Awakening is a pride and true 2D Zelda game, and rocks it hard.
The story feels odd, and obscure compared to any other Zelda game. We all know Zelda games as, Link has to defeat Ganon/Ganondorf to save Zelda, Not Link’s Awakening. Link has found himself passed out on the shore of Koholint Island, and is told he must collect the 8 magical Instruments to wake the Wind Fish. How…odd. A familiar owl serves as our guide through the island, leading us through the Mysterious Forest and other locales. While it still feels like a Zelda game, the story has a set up that feels almost rushed. They throw you into such an odd world compared to past versions of Hyrule, and let you experience it and set it up for yourself. But, once you get into it, and complete a dungeon or two, you’ve forgotten about the set up and are now fully involved into this world.
Link’s Awakening is no where near a perfect game, the story set up feels brushed to the side, menus can be clunky mid combat, however, if you haven’t touched any of the iterations of Link’s Awakening, whether it be DX or the remake, do yourself a favor and at least try it. It’s cute and charming, yet it still fells like a Zelda game at heart. I sunk hours of life poured into this game, I even streamed at 100% run a few months ago, and I regret none of it. Nostalgia is a strong force, making us like what may be sub par just because it reminds us of childhood, but with this, I can assure you its worth your time.