The original Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening came out for the Nintendo Game Boy back on June 6th, 1993. How old was I? Negative 149 days old. I wouldn’t be old enough to play this game with even an inkling of what I was doing for another 4 years. For years my “gaming” revolved around Tetris, Space Invaders, Mario Golf, Castlevania, the bright yellow Donkey Kong Land cartridge, and Link’s Awakening. As you can imagine, I never really got very far in my many attempts at playing any of the games, but the nostalgia of playing the remaster of Link’s Awakening still hits pretty hard.
I was really happy when they announced they chose this Zelda game to re-master because it is one of the more obscure ones. As a kid, you don’t think about how Goombas being in a dungeon and taking a Chain Chomp on a walk don’t really belong in a Zelda story. Yet here they are, and, as an adult, I find it enlightening to its creation. Much like Majora’s Mask, Link’s Awakening started out as a side project that wasn’t really supposed to evolve into anything of interest. Instead, we get a game that completely changes the future of Zelda games with features like the jumping mechanic, the fishing mini game, and trading sequences. While certainly none of these additions are revolutionary to us now. Reading back on interviews about Link’s Awakening and what it meant to the franchise as a whole, Ocarina of Time would have been a totally different game. So sure, let us have our Yoshi plush and spooky Boos, this Zelda is for everyone!
And let’s not forget about those graphics! The clay feeling of the world really gives the game that whimsical feeling it deserves. I think that any other Zelda game done in this style really would not have done it justice. Not even Wind Waker wouldn’t feel right even though the cartoon style is there. When I didn’t think the game could get any cuter, the side-scroller basement crawls are visually stunning and even give a weighty feeling to Link as you’re jumping across platforms. While I do have some chugging issues when walking around the main village, things tend to smooth out in a few seconds. I haven’t had any issues in important battles or timing sensitive activities like jumping, so I’m not too upset by momentary visual lag.
But here we are, at the end of the review. I’ve only owned the game for less than 2 days and I’m already farther in the game than I ever got in the almost 26 years of my life owning the original. I’m still struggling with it here and there, but this time I know it’s because I’m not very good at top-down adventure games and not because I don’t know how to read yet. I really enjoy the effort Nintendo has been putting into all of their recent Zelda games and I’m looking forward to what they can do in the next 26 years. Here is to hoping I finally beat the game this time around!