10 Nov 2012

Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening / DX

The opening Screen
Gameboy: 1993
Gameboy Color DX version: 1998
3DS Virtual Console: 2011
Publisher: Nintendo

This was my introduction into the Legend of Zelda (Zelda to the fans) universe and what an introduction it was! 
Link's Awakening  is the only game in the series that does not feature Zelda herself. However like most Nintendo made games there are certain cameos that appear; Yoshi, a 'Princess Peach' photo, and one of the characters Tarin bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo's famous Italian plumber, with the Cucco Keeper looking like his younger brother Luigi. Even some of the enemies such as Goombas, Chain Chomps, Piranha Plants and Pokeys make an appearance. The graphics are the same to SNES A Link to the Past (1991) and this the first official Nintendo handheld console game (excluding Game and Watch series of course). In this review I have referred to the levels as dungeons even though the word dungeon is not used during the story, but it can be easier for the reader to understand the term.

According the manual the story is that Link, having successfully defeated Ganon, is returning home by boat after a "quest of enlightment"- a storm occurs and Link finds himself shipwrecked on the mysterious Koholint Island. So far so good? Well it wouldn't be Zelda or a Nintendo made game without a twist! [Spoiler Alert!] This island is nothing but a dream created by the mythological Wind Fish! In order to leave the Island, Link must find 8 Siren Instruments that will wake the Dreamer, who resides in the egg featured in the title screen.
Colour Level: make the red blue
The DX version was remade especially for the Gameboy Color and features a special colour dungeon where knowledge of colour yields Link with either an attack or a defence power up.

The dungeons are excellently designed and the puzzles do require some skill and thought to complete. The subquests are also engaging, allowing the player (if like me wanting to collect and complete 100% of the game) about 2-3 hours of gameplay. An example of this is the trading game, gain something to give to someone else to eventually gain an reward. Like its predecessors, the NES Legend of Zelda and SNES A Link to the Past, the gameplay POV is third person/ overhead predominately but with some side scrolling elements like NES Adventure of Link to allow special abilities such as jump to be fully and the best elements of the games remain while introducing new concepts, weapons, abilities, characters and enemies to challenge and engage the player. 

I personally like my games to have replay value and Link's Awakening doesn't disappoint and is proven by its two re-releases (and the first Gameboy Color game to be released on the 3DS Virtual Console).

For me, the Legend of Zelda series stands for excellence, value for money by engaging and challenging gameplay, replayability (these games stand the test of time), and honouring both its origin, and introducing new elements, which in turn will be reused and form part of the legend. The series is a benchmark of excellence that all games in the action, adventure, RPG (role playing game) genres need to live up to. 

Link's Awakening is an excellent introduction both in terms of the Zelda franchise/ universe and in terms of the handheld Zelda games (which just get better and better in this author's opinion!) and despite the game being 19 years old, its still can be played and enjoyed by players old and new.

Boss Battle: the number of blocks is also a clue