It’s wonderful that Nintendo Switch players now have the chance to come back and experience one of the classics from The Legend of Zelda series such as Link’s Awakening after spending hundreds of fun and meaningful hours with Breath of the Wild. While the latter is considered one of the best Zelda games of all time, it doesn’t accurately represent the magic featured in the more traditional games of the series and their varying degrees of creativity.
Link’s Awakening made a debut on regular Game Boy consoles in 1993, and critics at the time praised the depth of the game, the number of features and things that can be done in the vast open world, as well as the good use of the control system to create innovative puzzles which attracted players of all ages.
The new game can be considered an exact copy of the old Game Boy release. There are no changes -even minor ones- to any of the main aspects such as dialogue sentences or story structure, and even the way things are placed, the puzzle ideas and solutions are identical to the old game version without any notable differences.
The main point of interest lies in the hardware and engine used in developing the game in a way that allows you to feel differently about the adventure, as if it was a complete modern experience, in addition to a beautiful user interface, which is similar to the one that was used in Breath of the Wild, and some new tweaks in the gameplay system, allowing players to design their own puzzle rooms as they were able to do before in one of Nintendo’s recent exclusives games: Super Mario Maker 2.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is now available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review
As in most games of the Legend of Zelda series, the silent hero Link wakes up from his deep slumber to find himself stranded on the shore of the secluded Koholint Island. Princess Zelda is not by his side at this time, but instead the hero gets to know Marin, the girl who saved his life from freezing and loneliness, and also is the one who set him up on his journey alongside the other friendly villagers.
There is a sense of openness and exhilaration from the very first moment you begin your journey due of the new 3D camera perspective that is very similar to the 3DS entries. We felt that a great deal of care had gone into putting things in their place artistically, in order to make every step you took and every place you visited look beautiful and eye-catching.
Everything in the game has been completely redesigned and presented in a new 3D form: green trees, blue rivers, enemy models and even other inanimate items such as weapons and aids, everything looks new and different. Link’s Awakening enchants the player not only through beautiful graphics, but also through dreamy and resonant music as we are used to from all games in the series.
The Magical Journey of Link’s Awakening
For Link to be granted his escape from the island, he needs to search for eight musical instruments in order to wake up the wind fish from its deep sleep, and when any of these instruments are obtained, the player can hear short yet beautiful musical notes that have the same sound as the instrument displayed on the screen. Link also obtains the iconic musical Ocarina on his journey, which allows him to learn new instrumental pieces that would be a great help for him in overcome obstacles.
As always, Link gets a simple number of tools to start his journey with, such as a sword and shield, and some tips for his next destination, but Link’s Awakening does not tell you exactly where to go and what to do, rather it gives you some hints about the next adventure such as telling you that need to visit waterfalls, plains, hills, or forests, and the rest depends on you and your sense of discovery and adventure.
The world despite its vastness is not open in the literal sense, and that’s because many places are difficult to reach without the appropriate tool, so Link needs to go to the places that are available to him, and solve puzzles in each one respectively in order to find new tools and reach more difficult destinations. Sometimes the next step is not just dependent on the tool, but on the way you look at certain things or talking to certain NPC characters to find a resolution to whatever problem you are facing.
The tools Link gets give him more options or movement mechanics and not immediate solutions such as allowing him to run, jump or move towards things using the hook. He also acquires many combat tools such as bombs, arrows and boomerangs. All of this was added retrospectively after being introduced in later games.
Our only wish was for a better quick select feature, to make changing between tools easier and faster instead of needing to open the start menu to reach them. There are two quick access buttons available to the player, but they were not enough as some rooms and challenges need the usage of more than one tool and weapon at a time.
During his journey, Link encounters many of the island’s different inhabitants such as fishermen, princes, mermaids, some talking animals, and of course some evil monsters. The characters in the game always help you in one way or another with simple hints or send you on fetch quests.
Link’s Awakening is also distinguished from other games in the series by the presence of characters from the various Nintendo game franchises such as Kirby, Yoshi, Princess Peach and many more. Surprisingly, there are some 2D places in the world that contain the famous Goomba monsters from Mario games, and the same classic melodies from Mario games can be heard.
The Puzzling World of Link’s Awakening
The world of Link’s Awakening is beautiful and interactive at the same time. Walking around interacting with any visible item or gimmick, and talking with different characters is always beneficial to you, weather now or later. there are no insignificant details at all in this game.
Unlike the Shrines that are abundant in Breath of The Wild, and which offer a single puzzle that gives you a small reward for solving it, most other Zelda games rely on having a specific group of 7-10 large Dungeons. In this game, there are eight of them in different areas on the island, and each one carries many floors and puzzles that require the player to have intellectual skills and problem solving abilities with the tools available to him.
The player is always looking in puzzle rooms for the keys. There are many locked doors and you need to find small keys to open them, in addition to the master key that opens the main monster door of the place, which also has the next musical instrument we are looking for.
The way the puzzles work in this game is rather simple, as all the rooms look almost identical, and most of the puzzles in any room depend on defeating all the enemies in it so that the important element to complete the task lands on you from the ceiling of the room. The challenge is figuring out where and when to use the right tool for the place, as you may need to go back to the same place many times and discover new things or new ways in the same room that you didn’t discover the first time.
There are multiple secret walls, open ceilings, and hidden stairs in every room. You can find one-way doors, places where access needs to be reached from a height and predict in advance where you will land, and there are certain monsters that can only be defeated using a special tool or a weapon that must be obtained from outside the place. It’s is not entirely difficult because there are many statues that give you advice in each room, but the challenge becomes more and more difficult as the Dungeons and the number of floors increase with time.
Create your own puzzle room
It takes about 15 hours to complete the story of the game, and there is nothing to do after you finish the game other than going back to gather all the collectibles you missed in the world. However the most fun you will be having is with the dungeon creator that unlocks after finishing the main story.
This is a new feature that was not present in the original release. The player unlocks it by getting to know the character Dampe the Gravedigger, who gives you some tips and lessons on how to design your puzzle room, and how it should look from start to end, but it requires you to finish playing Link’s Awakening’s main story first.
Unfortunately making your own rooms is simply not interesting as Super Mario Maker makes it look like because there are no new items or gimmicks, it’s all a rehash of the same rigid rooms of the main story, but with extra arrangement options and nothing more. You can’t go in depth with each dungeon element like Mario Maker and there are many set rules and structures beforehand which you can’t interfere with them in anyway.
It is not possible to choose the shape of the room or the number of monsters in it or any of these things; you choose from pre-prepared places and then decide the placement and the direction of the doors according to the type of room you choose. You just have to create a dungeon so that none of the rooms are fully enclosed or not connected to any other room.
There are some challenging options to spice up the experience such as setting a rule about completing the mission with a certain number of hearts or giving up the use of the sword, but they are not enough to achieve the desired creative fun that we were looking for.
- Amazing reproduction of all original elements in a modern style
- Vast and Rewarding experience
- Lots of dreamy music tracks and the use of multiple musical instruments
- The ability to craft your own dungeon with puzzles and monsters
- The appearance of characters from other Nintendo series such as Mario and Yoshi
- Changing between tools and weapons is a little tedious
- The design feature needs some renovation and less restrictions.