More than 25 years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening released onto the original Game Boy. At the time, the game was a critical success and helped boost Nintendo’s Game Boy sales quite significantly.
Now we’re faced with a similar situation with the game re-releasing onto Nintendo Switch but will the overwhelming nostalgia of a remake from an era gone by entice older gamers enough to pick it up? Or does the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening appeal to the younger, newer market more? The answer is a mixture of both.
In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, players will take on the role of Link. Link’s ship encounters a fierce storm at sea and he ends up getting washed ashore on Koholint Island. After being rescued by some villagers, Link awakens and sets forth on a quest to get off the island and back to journeying across the sea.
Unfortunately for him though things are not as easy as they seem. You’d think that hopping aboard a ship and leaving would be the easiest solution but Link gets dragged into an adventure filled with cameos from other Nintendo games instead.
Having been saved by Tarin and his daughter Marin, Link leaves Mabe village and his adventure begins. Returning to the beach he washed up on, he recovers his sword and a mysterious owl tells him that he must wake the Wind Fish, Koholint’s guardian, in order to return home.
The Wind Fish lies dreaming in a giant egg on top of Mt. Tamaranch, and can only be awakened by the eight Instruments of the Sirens.
Players will gradually discover more of Koholint island as they adventure out into the surroundings of Mabe village. This exploration and adventuring is where The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening truly excels. As with the original game, the exploration and dungeon crawling is top notch.
Link will have to venture forth into forests, caves and more. Slowly but surely players will solve puzzles to get through and face off against boss enemies.
As you progress through the game and defeat bosses, Link will gain new abilities from the items that he discovers. Progression in the game is therefore entirely reliant on puzzle solving your way through an area filled with enemies until you reach a boss enemy and unlock something that will open up more of the game’s world to you. The enemies in Link’s Awakening are varied throughout and some take some clever tactics to defeat.
The Legend of Zelda formula was established decades ago and the Switch version of Link’s Awakening still plays as well as the original from back in the day. Nintendo haven’t changed much and the only notable additions are the effects of the in-game physics on gameplay and the owl statues which provide hints to get you through dungeons.
There are a few quality of life improvements as well which helps with the game’s flow and Nintendo have streamlined the gameplay to allow for less interruptions and fiddling in menus.
Players will move Link around from a top down tilted view and controlling him is incredibly easy. Using Link’s sword and shield is also simple and players can perform a satisfyingly powerful spin attack by holding down the attack button. The gameplay mechanics being almost unchanged from the 90s might put some newcomers off since this is not a The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild level of game, but it still stands up, even by today’s standards.
Graphically, the game on Switch looks gorgeous with an animated 3D cartoon-esque aesthetic that fits the game perfectly. The Link you play as isn’t as cute as Toon Link from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker though. Still, with that said, younger gamers or newcomers to Link’s Awakening will definitely find the remake visually pleasing and engaging.
The soundtrack used in Link’s Awakening features remastered tracks from the original game. However, they just don’t deliver the same impact as the original game from 1993 with some sounding quite different due to the higher fidelity and newer instrumentation used. We’re on the fence about the remastered soundtrack to be honest but newcomers will not have this issue.
Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a satisfying remake of a classic Game Boy game from the golden age of gaming. Nintendo have given it a fresh coat of shiny cartoon-esque paint and refined an already fantastic game to suit the modern era. Fans of the original game and newcomers alike will find a lot of joy to be had in Link’s Awakening and if you own a Nintendo Switch, this game should definitely be on your radar. It comes highly recommended from us.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided to us