At Nintendo’s February 2019 Nintendo Direct event, the company announced that it would be doing a remake of the Game Boy’s 1993 classic, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I have only played the slightly enhanced The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX version of the game that was released for Game Boy Color in 1998, so I can’t speak to the impact of the original from firsthand experience, but I can tell you this: I couldn’t be more excited.
The game is a bit of an anomaly among The Legend of Zelda games. For one, it’s one of the titles that a lot of people have skipped. If you have skipped it, though, that was a mistake. It's one that you can hopefully remedy with the upcoming release. Even so, if you’re eager, I’d still say you should play the original. It’s a fantastic game.
One of the things that sets the game apart is its surreal story. It starts off with the same cinematic that was shown at the Nintendo direct and it was even once rendered on the Game Boy which, at the time, was extremely surprising to me. Link washes up on shore and is taken in by Marin and Tarin, whose names might be recognizable to fans of the series. As the game unfolds, you learn of a sleeping, dreaming creature called the Wind Fish, whose slumber has trapped Link in this world. As a result, you have to quest to gather instruments and play a ballad in order to wake him. It sticks true to the series’ musical motifs.
In regards to music, there is a lovely balance of heroism and somewhat eerie, somber, tunes that would fit well in an episode of Twin Peaks. Complementing the music are outstanding, memorable characters that fit so well into this strange world. In a way, this game has similar tones to that of Majora’s Mask, in that you are never quite certain if the experience is grounded in reality or a dream. It’s weird, to say the least.
Combat plays out like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which makes sense because this game was a contemporary of that one. One main difference is that this game puts an even larger emphasis on collecting. Despite a small-ish map, Link can collect a complete arsenal, seashells, and an Ocarina that is used in puzzle solving. You can also steal some items from the shop through a memorable glitch that will result in the shopkeeper later electrocuting you and calling you a thief. Your file name is even changed to “Thief,” which was just not acceptable to me, a young boy who wanted to identify with the hero, so I once reset the game completely.
Near that shop is a building devoted entirely to a ringing telephone. Answering it will reward Link with hints. This classic looking phone is, for my money, leagues cooler than that tablet thing Link uses in Breath of the Wild.
Undoubtedly, this game will warm the hearts and excite the imaginations of fans anew when it releases on the Nintendo Switch. I’m also excited that we have this portable option available to us so I can, if I feel bold, play it secretly in my closet so my parents, whom are thousands of miles away and not concerned with what their 30-year-old son is playing, won’t catch me up past my bedtime. At the very least, I’ll be playing this game when I go to doctor’s appointments when my back gets sore or my knees give out.
I do hope at least some people are sneaking in late night hours with this game, though, because this game has the potential to be one of your favorite childhood memories. I hope nobody sleeps on this title this time around.