System: Nintendo Switch. Publisher: Nintendo. Developer: Grezzo. Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch. Release Date: 20th September 2019
- BACKGROUND - The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Nintendo Switch is the second re release of this 1993 Game Boy classic, following on from Links Awakening DX which was released in 1998 for the Gameboy Colour. The original game and it's 1998 remaster were presented in 2D graphics in an almost square ratio on the Game Boy and Game Boy Colour but the remake released in 2019, is presented in 3D graphics and a widescreen ratio on the Nintendo Switch system. The original 1993 release was met with critical acclaim and praise, landing the title on many critics top 5 Nintendo games ever and the 1998 remaster only added to an already stellar experience, and now, with the 2019 remake, Link's Awakening is now as beautiful as ever with colourful graphics and an art style that help light up the island of Koholint in a way the 1993 original could not. In February of 2019, during a Nintendo Direct presentation, the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening was announced and quickly became one of the most anticipated games of 2019. Upon release, the game would go on to become the fastest selling game of 2019 and currently holds an average score of 87% via critic's and 9.4 among users on Metacritic.
-GAME- Links Awakening is one of the few Zelda games not to take place in the land of Hyrule, it also does not feature Princess Zelda or the Triforce. Instead, protagonist Link is stranded on the magical Koholint Island , a place guarded by a whale-like deity called the Wind Fish, after his ship crashes during a storm. Assuming the role of Link, the player fights enemies and solves puzzles while searching for the eight musical instruments needed to awaken the sleeping Wind Fish, and allow him to escape from the island. Link's Awakening continues the fan-favourite dungeon exploration that the series is known for along with its colourful characters and locations making this a fitting entry in the series, despite the aforementioned lack of previous series staples. The biggest change is also the most obvious and that is the graphical overhaul from the pixelated surroundings of the 1993 & 1998 versions to the best 2019 can offer. Link, enemies, bosses and Koholint itself are all beautifully rendered on the Switch and it helps to really flush out the charm of the island and every inhabitant, which only serves to further the player's experience. This 2019 remake is a faithful retelling of the 1993 original, with the story and events intact and unchanged, with the exception of the camera shop, now obsolete with the discontinuation of the Game Boy printer. This feature has been replaced however, by the brand new (and unfortunately disappointing) Chamber Dungeons feature found in Dampe's Shack. These are playable maps that the player can create using sections of previous dungeons played through before in the main game, but the creations can oddly only be shared via amiibo.
-GAMEPLAY- Link's Awakenings biggest challenges lie in its puzzle-solving and not it’s combat, like most games of this genre. This is kept incredibly simple throughout your travels with the aid of the sword, shield and items like Bombs, Boomerangs and Bows. To defeat most open world enemies, a simple block and attack method will suffice, meaning more time can be spent on puzzle solving and planning your next steps on your journey to awaken the Wind Fish. Bosses and mini bosses are trickier and will require a certain amount of trial and error to solve as they become less of a fight and more of a puzzle and once you can figure out the pattern and what weapon or item to use, all bosses become relatively simple. Traversal equipment can also be found and used to help explore Koholint and these include items like the Hookshot, Roc's feather and the ever faithful Ocarina, among others. The dungeons, again as previously mentioned, are the hardest part of this outing and are still as difficult as ever but due to the graphical upgrades of the 2019 release, are now in many ways less punishing as with clearer detail, many hidden secrets and less obvious paths are now a little easier to spot. They still require a great deal of trial and error but finding that elusive crack in the wall is now a darn sight easier than finding it back in 1993 would have been. Another pleasant change is that Link's Awakenings original camera style had to scroll from screen to screen due to graphical limitations of the early 90's, whereas in the 2019 Switch remake these limitations no longer exist and are seamlessly integrated so you truly feel like you are traversing one big world.
-THOUGHTS- The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening is the first Zelda game I have played through and completed, with my first attempt at Ocarina tragically cut short with the untimely passing of my original Nintendo 64. Having seen the trailer and loved the nostalgic combination of the top-down display and art style, I can safely say, my decision to give this a go was a great one as I thoroughly enjoyed this. My play-through never felt too easy nor did it ever feel too hard, ultimately being as challenging as I made it. If I took my time, explored and defended before attacking, then my experience was fun one and in many places, a breeze. But if I rushed, hurried through areas and just hack and slashed, the game became tricky but again this was only due to my own haste. I would highly recommend Link's Awakening to anyone, not only for fans of the series, but for first time players such as myself too
After review, I give this a solid 9/10. My only problem was that in some parts of the game, progress markers were very difficult to figure out/decipher aside from some cryptic clues given to you by a wise owl who appears from time to time.
But, luckily living in the age of the internet meant I could quickly look up where I needed to go next - I honestly feel for players in 1993 having to explore every inch of Koholint to discover the next necessary step or item. Besides that, this game was fun, enjoyable, pleasant and a game I find myself wanting to explore again. The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening is available on Nintendo Switch now. Thank you for reading! Let me know what you thought of this game in the comments below. But for now, Aaron out!