I’ve spent the last week on Koholint Island and let me tell you, it’s amazing! The locals are strange and colourful, there is a gorgeous beach, and a giant egg sits high a top a mountain. Of course, I’m talking about the latest Zelda game on the Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
If you can believe it, this game was originally released in 1993 on the Gameboy. And, then re-released as Link’s Awakening DX on the Gameboy Color in 1998. I’ve played many Zelda games throughout the years and Link’s Awakening has always been one of my favourites.
Can a game that came out 26 years ago still be relevant and enjoyable in 2019? Read on and find out why, with a few tweaks and additions, Link’s Awakening is among the best games I’ve played this year.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo EPD, Grezzo
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Washed ashore on a mysterious island
The game begins as Link washes up on shore of Koholint Island after barely surviving a terrible storm that wrecked his ship. Link awakens to find himself inside the home of Tarin, a friendly and easy-going father who bears a striking resemblance to a famous Italian plumber and his daughter Marin.
After getting his bearings, Link discovers that since he has washed ashore, monsters have started appearing on the island. Additionally, Link learns that if he ever wants to get off the island, he’ll have to awaken the Wind Fish—not an easy task.
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that the hair on the back of my neck stood on end as the memories of playing all those years ago came flooding back. While there isn’t a whole lot of dialogue, everyone you meet on your adventure has a certain charm about them that you won’t soon forget.
Modernized and updated gameplay
As I made my way across Koholint Island looking for the magical instruments to waken the Wind Fish, I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having. The level of difficultly slowly ramps up dungeon by dungeon making it an enjoyable experience. A few changes and updates to gameplay were made to make Link’s Awakening to make it enjoyable by 2019 standards, I’ll touch upon a few.
Navigation is now much easier in Link’s Awakening thanks to the addition of pins that can be added to the map. These can be a lifesaver when you need to remember who told you to bring them flowers or the bear who asked for honey to make his recipe fit for a King. Additionally, there are more fast travel spots making it easier to get where you need to go without wasting time.
The Gameboy had only 2 buttons and thus made using items and weapons a bit difficult. Now, on the Switch, Link has two items mapped to X and Y, your shield and Pegasus Boots are now accessed via the L and R buttons, and your sword and Power Bracelet are mapped to B and A respectively.
Another new addition to Link’s Awakening to modernize gameplay is something called Memories. Here important pieces of information that are helpful in advancing in the game are stored and viewable at anytime. No more making notes of what people said on a piece of paper or in notes on my phone.
There is a total of 8 dungeons in the game that are full of challenges and puzzles. Treasure Chests now contain a higher value of rupees making it easier to purchase bombs, arrows, and hearts.
Gorgeous 3D visuals and remixed soundtrack
Link’s Awakening’s visuals and audio have been completely overhauled. While the game still maintains the top-down perspective in dungeons and a tilt-shift effect elsewhere, the 2D graphics have been replaced with gorgeous 3D toy-like character models and diorama-like world designs. Seeing the game in motion is a sight to behold, which brings me to my only gripe with the game.
When moving from one area to the next, the framerate drops from 60 to 30 fps. I noticed this at E3 this past year when playing a demo of the game and was hoping this would be fixed in the final version. Unfortunately, its not. It’s odd to see this issue in a first party Switch game and hopefully this can be resolved with a patch in the future.
The game’s soundtrack has been remixed and is a great mix of old and new. Many of the songs are beautifully orchestrated and I often found myself stopping in a safe spot out of harms way just to listen to it.
Quite possibly the biggest addition to Link’s Awakening are the Chamber Dungeons. In a nutshell, this new mode is a dungeon editor that allows you to create your own dungeon using rooms and bosses from dungeons you have completed in the game.
This mode unlocks shortly after you beat the second dungeon in the game when you stumble upon Dampe a gravedigger. Dampe will give you a number of challenges to complete. You’ll need to follow his instructions if you want to be rewarded.
Before you are allowed to save your design, you have to play through it. This ensures that there are no hitches that make it incompletable. Dungeons can be shared with friends by using a Legend of Zelda amiibo. Simply save your design to the amiibo and a friend can download it on their Switch with a simple tap.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a must have game for Zelda fans
The Nintendo Switch is having a stellar year and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is another feather in Nintendo’s hat. Aside from the frame rate issue that occurs when you move from area to area, Link’s Awakening is impeccable.
Gameplay has been tweaked and updated to meet 2019 standards. The game’s visuals are jaw droppingly gorgeous and the remixed soundtrack will have you humming long after you’ve stopped playing. Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch is everything fans could have asked for in a remaster and more.
+ Gorgeous visuals
+ Updated gameplay and new gameplay modes
+ Worth playing again even if you played the Gameboy version
+ Mini-games are fun to play and rewarding
– Random frame rate drops
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.75/5 (95%)
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