Link’s Awakening was nearly perfect, the remake gets even closer

Reporting live from Koholint Island

It’d be an understatement to say I hold The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening in high regard. It’s my favorite game from my childhood. It’s weird and quirky in all the right ways, with enough character and je ne sais quoi to truly elevate it above the other also-excellent Zelda games.

That’s high praise, but here’s higher praise: I think the Link’s Awakening remake will bring it even closer to perfection than the original.

We played Link’s Awakening for 20 minutes at E3, and it felt like reuniting with a childhood friend. We fell right in step. Hit the beach to grab the sword. Go north to the Mysterious Forest and find the magic mushroom. Try to steal from the shop. THIEF!

The motions felt familiar but the style is so exquisite. It’s more than a new coat of paint for a game that launched in green and black. It’s a true reimagining. This look befits Link’s Awakening‘s themes of enigma and childlike sense of discovery. This new aesthetic brings the world to life in ways that don’t seem possible. It feels like it’s wringing out every last drop of magic and charisma. It’s truly incredible.

Given less than half an hour, we weren’t able to see much of Link’s Awakening — just enough to be assured it’s quality. That being said, it’s tough to know if this remake actually tweaks anything significant, or if there are just a handful of additive enhancements alongside a new visual style. Has the layout of anything changed? Does anyone have new dialogue?

There are modern conveniences though, partially to break down Link’s Awakening‘s often-obtuse progression. A section of the menu stores key dialogue that’s necessary for advancing the story. The map has some sort of waypoint/marker system, although we didn’t tinker with it a whole lot.

Nintendo tells us about a handful of other changes meant specifically to keep you out of the menus. The Power Bracelet and Pegasus Boots are permanently-equipped items now, rather than tools that need to be swapped in and out of the two tool slots. Of course, our section was the beginning of the game so we didn’t have access to these items. I would’ve liked nothing more than to use the Roc’s Feather and Pegasus Boots to long jump all over the place. BowWow, all chained up to a post in the yard, would be very impressed with my mobility and athleticism. Envious, even.

Selfishly, I’m so excited that Link’s Awakening is getting this remake so that I have a reason to replay one of my favorite games in a different light. Less selfishly, I’m delighted that a younger generation of players has an opportunity to experience what I consider to be one of the best games ever. But, maybe I’m a little jealous that they’re getting the remake for their first time, because it’s shaping up to be even better than the original.

Brett Makedonski
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