REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

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Of course, the biggest change of all in this remake is the new Chamber Dungeons mode. I for one like the new Chamber Dungeons mode in the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It is a fun little diversion from the main game that adds some extra dungeon action, and is a bit meatier than you might expect. This mini-game of sorts is run by none other than Dampé from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can unlock more “chambers” (think rooms) to use in your custom dungeons by beating dungeons in the main game, including the extra Color Dungeon. You can also find chamber stones in some mini-games, each of which unlocks a new chamber when you talk to Dampé again. There are 14 chamber stones to get in all. Beating levels in Chamber Dungeons mode also unlocks a new chamber in many cases.

Link's Awakening | Chamber Dungeons

Chamber Dungeons mode is a great little addition to this remake.

This mode is divided into several tabs that unlock as you progress. The first three tiers have four levels each. The goal is to make a layout that works in the empty space allotted on the board. Then you have to beat your new dungeon, though this part is generally pretty easy (especially if you have the Koholint Sword). Some levels have extra requirements. These are things like having to beat your dungeon with only a three-heart health meter, or without being able to use your sword. After the first three tiers of levels you’ll unlock the gold tier challenges, which are harder and require a bit of thought to fill in the given space in a way that works. Once you get to this point you won’t be unlocking chambers anymore, as each of these levels nets you a gold rupee (300 rupees) when beaten. The gold challenge tier has a lot more levels than the previous ones, too.

Link's Awakening | Building a Chamber Dungeon

Building a chamber dungeon is very simple, and enjoyable.

Chamber Dungeons mode also has a free build option. In addition to chambers, there are also special tiles called effects tiles that you can place on rooms in your dungeon. Some can only be used on one room in the whole dungeon, while others can be placed on multiple rooms if you wish. These include things like a rain of rupees (or hearts) or more enemies. There is also amiibo support in this mode. Five of the unlockable chambers are special ones that you can get by scanning different Zelda amiibos. There is also a sixth amiibo unlockable, which adds an extra boss fight into the mix. This is unlocked via the Link’s Awakening amiibo. It comes in the form of an effect tile that you can place on a room of your choice to make Shadow Link spawn there. Be warned, as he has a lot of health. Even with the Koholint Sword, he still takes a bunch of hits to bring down, but he drops lots of rupees and some other items. When you unlock all of the chambers and effect tiles, you’ll have 193 things to choose from in the editor. That’s of course assuming there are no secrets left that people haven’t found yet.

Link's Awakening | My Monstrosity

Here we are adventuring through a monstrosity I made.

You may expect that these chamber dungeons behave a bit different than normal ones, and you’d be right. It seems that every chest you open will contain a key until you’ve gotten one for every locked door in the dungeon. After that each chest drops a random color of rupee. When you’ve gotten every chest in the dungeon, the last one will contain the Nightmare (boss) Key. You can choose from any of the game’s bosses, and also place mini-bosses in your chamber dungeons. You get to keep all of the rupees you find in your chamber dungeons, too! The game does a pretty good job of stopping you from making impossible dungeons. There is one room that as far as I know requires the use of bomb arrows to blast the cracked wall open (unless you’re coming through the wall from the other side). The game doesn’t teach you this, but you can fire a bomb arrow by equipping both bombs and arrows and pressing both buttons at the same time. Lastly, what about sharing your creations? Well, there is no online support, but you can save a single chamber dungeon onto an amiibo.

Link's Awakening | Warp Point

A warp point on a pedestal just east of Mabe Village. A few are just on the ground, and must be activated by digging there.

The gameplay is quite enjoyable, with only one significant hiccup in the overworld. Anytime you enter a new area of the overworld, the game’s framerate drops rather notably for a second or so before returning to its proper smooth state. It’s a minor annoyance more than anything, as it really doesn’t affect the gameplay in any way. I did encounter one other odd little glitch that from what I found online seems to happen if you pick up a heart piece and take damage at the same time. One heart in your health meter ends up with a permanent white border on it. I guess it gets stuck on a certain frame of the blinking animation or something. This has no bearing on gameplay, as the heart still functions normally. Furthermore, the next time you boot up the game, it will be back to its normal appearance.

Link's Awakening | Dungeon Passage

The dungeons have passages that are side-scrolling areas which take you to another part of the dungeon.

The graphical style is very nice, though some may think it a bit too cute. I wasn’t sure at first, but it has definitely grown on me. Characters, enemies, and many other objects have an appearance that almost seems like a mix of clay and plastic, but it looks very nice. The 3D assets that make up this reimagined world all look great, and it is arguably one of the best looking first party games on the Switch. You may notice in some of the overworld screenshots that there is a blur effect at the top and bottom of the screen that somewhat obscures more distant objects. I personally think the game would look better without this, but that’s just a nitpick.

Link's Awakening | Waterfall Secret

Link discovers another dungeon hiding behind a waterfall.

The music is very well done, and remixes the original tunes while at the same time staying quite true to them. They are quite enjoyable to listen to, and I can’t really name a single remix that I didn’t like. Likewise, the sound effects are also pretty well done, adding depth and life to the world.

Link's Awakening | Overworld

Link wanders around the overworld en route to his next goal.

Overall, I’ve very much enjoyed my time with the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I’m glad for the addition of the Chamber Dungeons mode, and that the hidden Color Dungeon returned. I also think it’s nice to go back to a more standard Zelda experience after Breath of the Wild. There are plenty of proper dungeons (plus custom chamber dungeons) here. The main game’s dungeons give you the satisfaction of finding new items and abilities, and using them to access new areas. Some will be happy this time that Link doesn’t have to deal with annoyances like not being able to climb because of incessant rain, or annoying breakable weapons (some of which make the weaponsmiths of Hyrule look bad). The smaller world in Link’s Awakening also means the core Zelda gameplay is more condensed compared to Breath of the Wild (where it is comparatively more diluted). I have spent 30+ hours adventuring on Koholint Island so far. In that time I’ve completed everything in the game except for a few of the gold tier challenges in Chamber Dungeons mode at this point. The game is available both at retailers and in the Nintendo Switch eShop for $59.99. Can you acquire all eight Instruments of the Sirens and make it to the Wind Fish?

Review Score

Review copy provided by publisher.

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in his late 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES, SNES, and N64 among others. He loves Nintendo, but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks/bike rides, loves animals, and enjoys thunderstorms (and science in general).

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called Pre-Computer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode (a bare-bones version of BASIC) 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 Unity 3D game engine (a powerful and easy-to-use engine) and learning 3D modelling in Blender.

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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