I never thought I'd see the day where I could play Ocarina of Time
on the toilet. Technology has come so far. Back in my day, one played Link's Awakening
, the first ever portable Zelda, on their Game Boy Color and counted oneself lucky if their batteries (re: archaic energy sources) lasted the entire time your pants were down.
Jim Sterling has already put up a great review for the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time
, also known as The Greatest Game Ever Made Even Better
, so there's no reason for me to do so. Instead, I'm going to review the re-release of Link's Awakening DX
, a game you've probably already played and therefore have no reason for this review!
is the first title in Nintendo's campaign to release a Zelda title on every one of its active consoles for the fairboy's 25th birthday year, and is the only real reason to boot up Nintendo's 3DS e-Shop. It's a great way to start the celebration because Link's Awakening
has seen little light outside of the original GBC release. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (3DS) Developer: Nintendo EAD Publisher: Nintendo Released: June 7th, 2011 MSRP: $5.99 Link's Awakening
begins like no other Zelda game: Link awakes on Koholint island, not Hyrule, by a girl named Marin (who resembles Malon in Ocarina
) after a shipwreck. There's no Zelda, there's no castle, and there's no Master Sword. Some of the inhabitants are crocodiles and there's a chain chomp hanging outside of some lady's house. Link runs off to find his sword that he left on the beach, wherein an owl tells him to seek out eight instruments to wake the Wind Fish. It sounds like Link snuffed a bit too much magic powder, but the plot is a charming, if relatively bare-boned, tale. The story is told almost completely by Mr. Mysterious Owl, and it's basically an excuse for you to run around and find the game's eight dungeons--mind you, this isn't a bad thing. Zelda games, especially the earlier ones, have never been story heavy, and Link's Awakening
is no different. There's enough there to create a quirky, memorable island and have a reason for Link to explore it.
While the game's story lacks a familiar Zelda feel, the graphics are akin to the 2D gem of the series: A Link to the Past
. The graphics are nowhere near as gorgeous as Past's
, there's a lot less detail and a lot more saturation, but the game isn't ugly by any means. It may turn off a few younger kids new to Awakening
(I almost murdered my little cousin when he called Chrono Trigger
ugly; I can hardly imagine what he'd think of Awakening
), but older gamers are in no risk of having their eyeballs explode from the limitations of GBC hardware.
One of the more important aspects of a Zelda title is the music. Again, it's perhaps most fair to compare Link's Awakening
to A Link to the Past
due to Past
being released first. While the game's tunes are catchy, they're nowhere near as memorable as the Hyrule Castle's pinnacle of castle-themed music
or the Dark World's foreboding, yet motivating, beat.
Don't get me wrong, the music is still good, and some of the fault lies with the GBC hardware, but (aside from Tal Tal Heights
) the music is lacking memorability, especially when A Link to the Past
was released prior with such stellar tunes.
Perhaps the most important question to ask about Link's Awakening
, though, is how well the game play as aged. For the most part, the Zelda formula remains true and enjoyable. Go to the dungeon, solve the sometimes difficult puzzles, rinse and repeat. The only "new" addition is the side-scrolling levels with goombas and piranha flowers in each dungeon. They resemble similar sections in Oracle of Ages/Seasons
and the side-scrolling of The Adventure of Link
, but they're neither an annoyance or a benefit. If anything, they just add to the quirky charm of the title.
There are a few ugly moblins in the old school design, however. Small things like text popping up and stopping play is frequent and frustrating. If you stray too close to a stone that requires gauntlets to lift, expect a tedious dialogue about how it's too heavy for Link. Likewise, every time you pick up a power-up you're assaulted with text explaining what it does. It got to the point where I'd avoid the power-ups completely.
A more serious gripe with the game may be that some of the nightmares (bosses) of each dungeon are ridiculously easy. One latter nightmare in particular, called Facade, is a face on the floor, and all you need to do is drop bombs on him. You're practically invincible when you stand on his face and figure out what to do. On the flip side, though, there are a couple neat boss fights. One such requires you to hurl a metal ball back at your foe after he throws it at you, and another requires you to hookshot a wormy beast from it's holes in the surrounding walls. The inconsistent difficulty in the bosses, however, is my only real issue with the game, and it's a minuscule one at that.
Despite these minor frustrations, Link's Awakening
is a great game. If you only have time for one 2D Zelda this summer, then you may be better off playing A Link to the Past
on the Wii's Virtual console or the DS. It's prettier, the music is better, and the game play has aged quite a bit better. But if it's been a while since you visited Koholint island, or you never have, there's no reason not to pick up Link's Awakening
. That is, if you're not too busy watching Goron's dance in 3D while on the toilet.
Final Verdict: 8.5/10 Great: 8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
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