REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

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oprainfall | Zelda: Link's Awakening
Title The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Release Date September 20th, 2019
Genre Action, Adventure
Platform Nintendo Switch
Age Rating ESRB: E for Everyone
Official Website

A nasty storm riles up the seas, and angry swells smash Link’s boat to pieces. He grabs a floating plank amid the tempest. Shortly thereafter, a girl named Marin discovers him washed up unconscious on the sunny shores of Koholint Island. Link soon awakens in her home, where he has been cared for. An unexpected adventure awaits him in the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, but not all is as it seems on this eccentric island! The question is, will he still want to awaken the Wind Fish once he has all eight Instruments of the Sirens?

Link's Awakening | The Sword

Once his unexpected journey begins, it’s not long before Link finds his trusty sword and meets an odd talking owl.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch is a remake that stays deeply true to the original game (Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Gameboy/Gameboy Color). It revamps the old 2D low-res sprites with an excellent new 3D presentation. This remake also includes some new features and quality of life improvements, but we’ll get to those in a moment.

Link's Awakening | Indoor Environments

The insides of buildings look like very detailed little dioramas.

Once Link awakens and ventures outside of Marin’s house, he finds himself in the small, quiet Mabe Village. He won’t be able to do much yet, so his first item of business is of course to head to the beach and find his missing sword. Once he has it, he can slash grass to get some rupees. They can be used at the shop or in some mini games in the village, where Link can earn some goodies.

Link's Awakening | Inventory

Link’s inventory is quick and easy to navigate.

Link can only mess around for so long, though. Soon he must seek out the dungeons scattered across the island. Each one houses one of the eight Instruments of the Sirens. Link will need to collect all of them if he wishes to complete his quest on Koholint Island. While Link can’t play these directly, he does have an ocarina that he can learn a few useful songs for.

Link's Awakening | Rooster Statue

An odd statue in Mabe Village may have more going on than meets the eye.

Dungeon exploration, like the rest of the game, is very true to the original. Unlike the overworld, dungeons are still divided into separate screens, just like in the original game. Each of the game’s dungeons is a fun little bout of classic 2D Zelda dungeon crawling, with later ones of course getting longer! The hidden Color Dungeon is also back (from the deluxe version of the original game on the Gameboy Color).

Link's Awakening | Dungeons

Link explores a gloomy dungeon beneath the soils of Koholint Island.

Now it’s time to see what the differences are between this game and the original.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening brings us a wonderful dose of classic 2D Zelda gameplay with a fresh coat of paint. It also has a few quality of life improvements, like the fact that you don’t need to swap your sword or shield in and out anymore. This is the most important change from a gameplay standpoint, and it reduces the amount of time you spend in the inventory changing your equipped items quite a bit. Another change is that running into a rock doesn’t display the ‘It’s too heavy’ message like in the original game. Instead, it only displays if you actually press the A button to try to pick it up. The second biggest change is that this remake also adds a new Hero Mode to the game, and its design is pretty standard. This mode is available immediately out of the box. Link takes double damage and hearts do not spawn from grass or enemies. It also fortunately lacks the cheap enemy health regeneration that was in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s Master Mode.

Link's Awakening | Swamp

Link finds a dungeon entrance hiding in the swamp.

There are actually a number of other little differences between the Nintendo Switch remake and the original game. There are a few more warp points in the remake, and the maximum health you can get is now 20 hearts, like in most Zelda games. Some of the new ones can be earned in the fishing and claw machine mini-games in Mabe Village, among other places. In addition to some extra heart pieces, there are also more secret seashells to collect this time. There are now 50 in all compared to 26 in the original game, and collecting them all will net you five different rewards. You’ll get one each time you go the Seashell Mansion with enough to reach the next goal.

Link's Awakening | Fishing

The fishing mini-game features a handful of unlockable fish types and some unlockable lures.

There are also now ten figurines based on Mario enemies that you can win in the Trendy game (the claw machine game) in Mabe Village. Some of them can be a bit annoying to get in that mini-game, and if you accidentally knock it over you may have to leave the building and come back in to reset it. This is because they can be even harder to grab when knocked over, and in some cases impossible. The fishing mini-game can also be annoying if you don’t know how to keep a fighting fish from breaking your line, but it’s not too hard. Anyway, each figurine can only be placed on a specific stand in one of the town’s houses. This is a bit like decorating Windfall Island in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, except there are only ten spots to decorate this time.

Link's Awakening | Figurines

This house in Mabe Village now contains four of the ten figurines (Pokey, Boo, Spiny, and Shy Guy).

Some bosses and mini bosses have had minor modifications, too. For example, the Angler Fish boss is a bit more aggressive than in the original game. Another one that has changed a bit is the Armos Knight mini-boss, in that you can’t just rush him with arrows anymore. The jars just outside drop arrows, suggesting you should consider using them, but they don’t seem to work at all (even if you jump and fire in midair). You’ll need to break his armor with spin attacks.

Link's Awakening | Miniboss

A silly mini boss early in the game stands in Link’s way, about to be destroyed.

More New Features on Page 2 ->

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in my early 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES and SNES. He loves Nintendo but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks or bike rides, and loves animals.

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called PreComputer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode which is what started him down the road of being a programmer! Michael can program in BASIC, Visual Basic, C++, C#, and is familiar with Java and Lua Script.

Putting programming and gaming together, Michael became a hobbyist game developer which may give him some good insights on game development! Most recently, he has been playing with the free version of the Unity engine (a powerful and easy-to-use game engine).

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.


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