E3 2019 Hands-On IMPRESSIONS: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening | Logo

Title: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release Date: September 20, 2019


My twenty-minute demo of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening started me off at the very beginning of the game where I am washed up on shore and went through the opening stages of the game until I very nearly completed the game’s first dungeon. The basic plot line behind The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is that Link wakes up on a beach on Koholint Island and he has to collect eight musical instruments in order to wake up the Wind Fish so he can return home. It is a zany action-RPG that was the first The Legend of Zelda game I ever finished on my fat Game Boy back in the mid-1990’s, and so I eagerly dove into this Switch remake to see how it stacks up.

As muscle memory took over and I started to go through the familiar motions for the game’s opening sequence, I was struck by how well the game operated. My sword and shield items were mapped out permanently to two different buttons, freeing up my ‘X’ and ‘Y’ buttons for me to swap other items and other things into. This is a smart quality-of-life update by Nintendo from the original, as it meant that I could always have my sword/shield available for use unlike in the original Game Boy release. As I worked my way up to and through my first dungeon, I found that combat was as ‘simple’ as I remember it to be, and I found myself slashing and blocking projectiles with ease.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening | Wind Fish

The goal of the game is to re-awaken the Wind Fish by collecting various instruments from each of the dungeons. (Image courtesy of Nintendo).

The gameplay world is gorgeous as well. The camera was locked at a three-quarter overhead view as I moved around. and there is a lot of detail in the brightly-colored environments. The framerate stuttered whenever there was much action or many different character models on the screen, though I am willing to put this down as the result of Nintendo still working on the game before its September release. All that said, I think the facial depictions of the characters are a bit creepy. Link, Marin, the shopkeeper, and so on all have pupil-less eyes that end up making them look like empty beings attempting emotion. It was a bit unsettling this otherwise perfect demo.

The world is bright and colorful in this remake, though the character eye design is somewhat off-putting. (Images courtesy of Nintendo).

The classic minor gameplay stuff is in there too. The very first thing I did once I took control of Link was to make a beeline for the shop in order to steal from him. And while I was unsuccessful, I could tell that the ‘old moment patterns for the shopkeeper watching you in the original Game Boy release were still intact. After I retrieved my sword, and I started to slash at Cuccos repeatedly until they swarmed me and nearly killed me. These are the kinds of things that I wanted in a The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake more than anything else, and this demo delivered it.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening | Steal

As this image shows, you can still steal from the shopkeeper…though I imagine you will be branded ‘Thief’ for the rest of the game if you do so, like in the original version. (Image courtesy of Nintendo).

Overall, the best thing about the new Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is that it is a faithful remake to the classic Nintendo Game Boy version of the game. While I did not get to try out the new Chamber Dungeon or dungeon building mechanic, I have strong hopes that if it is as well implemented as the other gameplay in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is, then it won’t be the like gimmicky train building in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks or the terribly animated cutscenes in Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. One thing that I am genuinely curious about -and nothing has been said yet by the Big N- is if the additional content from the Game Boy Color 1998 re-release, which included the then-brand new Color Dungeon and Game Boy Printer content, will be included in this version. Nintendo has not been shy about re-releasing the DX version of the game on the 3DS before, so I am hopeful that the dungeon and printer content will return in some fashion as well.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening | Dungeon

While I did not get to try out the new dungeon-building mechanic, I am more than a little excited to see how well it works in the final game release. (Image courtesy of Nintendo).

Overall, playing the Switch demo of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening took me back to a simpler time in my life, and I loved every moment of it. It releases on September 20, 2019 on the Nintendo Switch and I already have my copy pre-ordered. You can also check out our retro review for The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX here if you want a more in-depth analysis of the classic version of this game.

You can pre-order The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening now for the Nintendo Switch.


Are you excited for the re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening? What do you think of the graphic and character designs? 

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And video games. Cannot forget those video games. Anime too. Should not forget that either.