Gameboy Review – Link’s Awakening

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The Legend of Zelda – my personal favourite game series. Recently I have been completely obsorbed in Breath of the Wild (my new favourite in the series) – I have particularly enjoyed taking the game on the run! Which made me remember the first mobile game in the series – Link’s Awakening! I recently had a chance to play through this game, and it still remains one of the best in the series!

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Link’s Awakening takes place in a dream! Link is out sailing across the ocean, and a storm hits him and is found on the shores of Koholint island! Soon after, he awakes in a house surrounded by Tarin and Marin, who help him gain his strength back.  He quickly finds a shield and his sword but he beach where he washed ashore, and learns that he must Wake the Wind Fish – a giant flying fish sleeping at the top of Mt. Tamaranch. To do this, he must collect 8 instruments (conveniently located in dungeons) to make enough racket to wake him up! There are a few twists and turns in the story, although it is still quite light as is the case with most Zelda games.

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In terms of gameplay and design, Link’s Awakening is a 2D top-down action/adventure game. The D-pad controls the direction link moves, and the A and B button can be mapped with any of the Link’s many weapons and items (to be discussed down below). The game incorporates elements of exploration (including finding hidden secrets like heart container pieces, magic shells, and rupees), puzzles (mostly  found in the dungeons), and battles with the games many enemies and bosses. To put it simply, this game has much of what I love in video games.

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In terms of items, many of them return from previous games like the hook shot, boomerang, and magic rod, but this time around they have different functions, and can be combined in really interesting ways (e.g., the bomb & arrow)! I was particularly surprised by how powerful the boomerang was!

This game also introduces some new items like Rock’s Feather which actually allows Link to jump for the first time in a top-down game! This addition really opened up new puzzles and gameplay mechanics for Link, and was my favourite item addition to the game. The 2D side-scrolling sections in dungeons (complete with Goombas) was so fun to play!

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The world is also large and fun to explore. As the player slowly progresses in the game, more and more of the world opens to the player via unlocked items. While many common areas found in Zelda games and present here (like a swamp, mountain, and graveyard), the game also introduces a bunch of cool new areas that I wasn’t expecting like an animal village and a nightmare dream! This is the first game to also introduce the fishing game!

The world also has more important items to encourage exploration like shells! These are used to unlock special items the more you collect them, culminating in obtaining the most powerful sword in the game! Like most Zelda games, heart containers can also be found scattered throughout the land. Combined, the diversity of locations and hidden shells and heart containers makes exploring this world a lot of fun. The developers also added an excellent map which helps make navigating the world easier!

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The dungeons in this game are fantastic, which each one getting harder to complete the further the players gets! Whats new is that almost as much time is dedicate to actually getting inside the dungeons as is spent completing the dungeons! Each dungeon needs a specific key to get inside, and quests can be quite extensive to actually obtaining these keys. I really enjoyed this part of the game because it forced me to interact with some interesting characters and their stories.

The dungeons themselves are classic in many ways – there is a water dungeon, fire dungeon, tower dungeon in the mountains et cetera, but each one felt so different from one another because of how well the new items were integrated into their puzzles. The bosses were also a blast, with many of them taking up high amounts of the screen – making for epic battles!

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In terms of graphics, I think this is one of the best looking Gameboy games ever made. It really looks like a black and while SNES game, which is impressive given the technical limitations of the system. The world is well-realized, Link and the enemies looks great, and art style allows for important things to “pop” from the screen for easy visibility. The music is also fantastic with some common themes like Ballad of the Wildfish still perfectly crystallized in my memory (it was actually a song my brother learned to play on his guitar)!

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In summary, this is the second best portable Zelda game (next to Breath of the Wild). It has action, adventure, and some head scratching puzzles! Don’t miss out on this gem of a game! Overall, I give this game a final score of 9/10.

Final Score: 9/10

5 thoughts on “Gameboy Review – Link’s Awakening

  1. This was the first Zelda game I ever played from beginning to end and one of my favorite games of all time. I’d really love to see Nintendo revisit this game one day with either a “Link Between Worlds”-like sequel or a 2D remaster. The Ballad of the Windfish is one of the best Zelda tunes ever. 😀

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  2. Reading this brings back memories. This was the first Zelda game I enjoyed and got really far into. I never quite finished it but I was close. Reading through this it amazing to know it introduced things like fishing and I totally forgot about jumping, but it was here!

    There was the one shop keeper that you could steal stuff from. I remember visiting his shop again and he kills you and your name is then referred to as Thief from there on out. Man was that funny.

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