RTF Review: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING (Remake)
When Link becomes stranded on a faraway island, the Hero of Time is tasked with collecting eight magical instruments that are said to be needed to wake up the Wind Fish, the only being in the island capable of getting him home.
During the same Nintendo Direct where they revealed Astral Chain (which I also reviewed), the renowned studio announced a remake and an odd at that. It would be a fresh look at a forgotten Game Boy Color title. What a pleasant surprise it was to find out that the game in question was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. And as someone that has never played the original, checking this one out was a no brainer. I share this as disclaimer because I want you to know that I can’t comment on how faithful this remake for the Nintendo Switch is to the original. But after much waiting, I have finally played The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and I truly loved it.
As someone that loves the old school entries of The Legend of Zelda franchise like The Minish Cap and A Link to The Past, this remake to a 1993 classic was a joy to play. Every area that you explore has its own personality and look. This interpretation of the world of The Legend of Zelda makes me think that they tried to make a cute stop-motion film with porcelain doll versions of the franchise’s beloved characters. The game is visually charming and is filled with a sense of child-like wonder that is rare on most adventure games out there these days.
I think that it’s safe to say that whenever it comes to art direction, Nintendo sure knows what they’re doing. With gameplay reminiscent of those classic entries we’ve enjoyed in the past; the player navigates this entry from an over-the-top third-person perspective.
While exploring the colorful island environment, our hero can equip two sub-items, which is a staple of the series’ first entries. Like in every Zelda game, each special item that you find along the way works a means of progression; whether as a requirement for solving a puzzle or access to the next area. However, something that makes this installment stand out from others in the series, is how it references a certain Nintendo franchise. You’d be surprised to find out that Link’s Awakening is littered with cameos, items and levels in the style of Super Mario Bros. Many see Super Smash Bros. first epic crossover; but The Legend Of Zelda beat them to the punch! From Goombas to Piranha Plants to Underworld-themed 2D section, the homages to their sister franchise are a treat for players.
But even with all the charm that this game has, it does have its fair share of shortcomings (but then again, no game is perfect). Unlike most Zelda titles, Link’s Awakening is on the shorter end of the spectrum and that is including all the collectibles that are available for the player. One could argue that the game could be finished in half of the time that it would take to clear a standard entry like A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time.
While playing it on the Switch on handheld mode, I noticed some frame rate issues during the transitions between sections. This is important because they were only noticeable in handheld mode, but these are minuscule and nothing to worry about from graphics and gameplay standpoint.
The dungeon creator feature that was introduced with this remake is the title’s big disappointment. I liked the idea when it was first announced, but the execution feels lack luster. There is not much to do and you don’t get something in return that feels that your time invested in it was worth it. While it doesn’t take up as much time as the search for the 900 Korok seeds in Breath of the Wild, it does share its anti-climactic feel.
In conclusion, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a journey filled with charm, personality and joy, from start to finish. The music is adventurous, the art style is adorable and the gameplay is simple and enjoyable. This is a game that I fully enjoyed from beginning to end, even with its frustrating puzzles. This is an entry that I know both old school and newcomers can enjoy. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly recommend doing so.