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Link’s Awakening Review – Does the Classic Stack Up 26 Years Later?

Rango

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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch is a remake of the 1993 Game Boy classic. Featuring the Color Dungeon from the 1998 release on Game Boy Color, the Switch remake is the complete package of the past two releases. Developed by GREZZO, the developer has remade Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask on the 3DS in the past decade. With Link’s Awakening, however, this remake features an orchestrated soundtrack with gorgeous, high-definition visuals.

Story

The story of Link’s Awakening initially took place after The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Following the battle with Ganon, Link went on a journey. Upon his return to Hyrule, a storm struck and he wound up shipwrecked. Now on Koholint Island, Link must find his way back home by awakening the Wind Fish.

Link's Awakening

Link’s Awakening doesn’t tell the tale of the Triforce or saving the world. Rather, Link’s journey takes him around a mysterious island to awaken a deity. In doing so, Link bonds with the islanders, among them being Marin, the girl who rescued him on the beach.

At first, the journey itself doesn’t feature much narrative aside from the Owl’s dialogue. Halfway through the game, however, the plot becomes more complicated. You’ll learn the hard truth of your actions and the consequences they bear. And the ending does a great job of conveying these feelings when it’s all said and done.

Audiovisual

Link’s Awakening recaptures the art style used in the Game Boy classic. Instead of the cel-shaded style used in Four Swords, Wind Waker, and Minish Cap, Nintendo opted to use the dot-eyed style instead. In turn, the new HD visuals convey a beautiful landscape teeming with life and animation never before possible in the series.

Note the lush detail in the bushes and grasslands and the beautiful lighting in the dark caverns of Face Shrine. Also note the blur feature in the top and bottom of the screen. I’ve encountered few frameskips, but they resolved themselves quickly.

Link's Awakening

The new soundtrack features music arranged by Ryo Nagamatsu, composer of A Link Between Worlds. Featuring live instruments, you get to hear what each of the island instruments actually sound like when you collect them. The music features the entire soundtrack in all of its glory now remixed with new instrumentals. The aesthetics themselves are among the most impressive on the Switch and are alone worth the trip to revisit Koholint Island.

Perhaps one element that really brought the game to life was the character models. Modeled similarly to characters in A Link Between Worlds, it’s like looking at them through a new lens. The bosses in particular feel like they’re much more lively now.

Link's Awakening

Check out Cuphead Review for Nintendo Switch.

Gameplay

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening plays like a 1:1 remake of the original. The developers took cues from Ocarina and Majora’s Mask to keep the game as close to the original as possible at its core. The combat, items, and puzzle-solving remain true to the original. One noticeable development to combat is shielded enemies, however. You cannot hit them unless you shield their attack first!

Among the biggest improvements includes the new control system. Your Sword, Shield, and Pegasus Shoes stay permanently mapped to several buttons. This means you will use X and Y for your items. This cuts down heavily on item-switching and becomes a massive convenience to the player.

Link's Awakening

Additionally, you can now warp to multiple warp points found in the game. Using your Ocarina, play Mambo’s Mambo and you will be able to warp to several locations in the game. This is another great convenience for the player compared to the warp system of old. Also, the song also lets you warp to the beginning of a dungeon.

Finally, maps featured a complete rework. They’re much more detailed and you can add pins for placement. As Link’s Awakening features some of the most confusing dungeons in the series, this becomes a massive convenience for getting through Eagle’s Tower and Turtle Rock.

Link's Awakening

The only issue I had was the pacing at times. Without the right item, you had to go around and back to Mabe Village to collect something you may have missed. There is still a bit of back-and-forth. But the new improvements help tremendously.

Conclusion

Considering all the improvements, Link’s Awakening is not just a remake of a great game. It is the definitive version of the classic. Reworked with modern improvements while keeping the spirit of the original game, it is the quintessential Zelda experience for veterans and newcomers alike. The well-balanced difficulty will invite players of all kinds while the Hero Mode – unlocked at the start – will be the perfect way to entice challengers.

You can also build dungeons with Dampe the Gravekeeper! However, if dungeon-building isn’t your thing, you can skip this feature entirely. While it’s probably the newest element to the game, it doesn’t offer much of an impact on the game either way. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of the Photo Booth sidequest from the Game Boy Color version.

Link's Awakening

With that being said, I still prefer A Link Between Worlds. But it’s also since it’s a more modern game with more complex puzzles and elements. Plus the dungeons flow smoothly and there’s not as much pacing back and forth. Granted, it’s not by a wide margin and I find both games to be fantastic. However, I hope GREZZO and Nintendo will take these into consideration should they ever remake The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Seasons one day.

With that said, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is the perfect addition to the Nintendo Switch library. Any Zelda fan will enjoy this beautiful remake. And if this is your first Zelda, you’ll find a great place to start here on Koholint Island.

Link's Awakening

We hope you enjoyed our review of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. What entices you most about the remake? Let us know in the comments below!

9
Wonderful
Link’s Awakening Review – Does the Classic Stack Up 26 Years Later?
Definitive Edition.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Switch provides the definitive experience of a classic. More buttons means better controls and less item switching. Plus the additional warp points and map elements make traveling easier than ever before. As a classic Zelda title, you cannot go wrong with this wonderful game.
Pros
Gorgeous visuals and audio recapture the feeling for a modern experience.
Challenging title great for all comers.
QoL improvements include new controls, more warp points, and revamped map system.
Cons
Still a ton of back and forth.

Rango has been gaming since 1993. He loves Action/Adventure, JRPG, and Platforming games the most. When he's not writing reviews, he competes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments.

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