The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review (Nintendo Switch Remake)

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When Nintendo announced that the fourth Zelda title, Link’s Awakening (1993), was receiving a remake, there was no doubt that this came as a huge surprise. If any Zelda remake were to be announced, fans would most likely expect it to be one of the more important or beloved titles, such as A Link to the Past or one of the 3D titles.

This isn’t to say the original Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy wasn’t a beloved or poor game, but it tends to be overlooked when discussing the Zelda franchise. I do believe all of the 2D Zeldas to be fantastic, though, and Link’s Awakening is no exception.

Link’s Awakening is ironically one of the few Zelda titles to not involve Zelda. Perhaps this is a good choice, because thankfully, the story this time around isn’t filled with pretentious terms like “sacred realm” and “dark world.” No, in this game we are finally given a simple, followable narrative in which Link’s ship crashes on an island, and the only way off is to awaken the Wind Fish which rests inside of a giant egg on the peak of the island. To awaken the beast, Link must collect the eight wind instruments and play them to the Wind Fish. These eight instruments act as Link’s motive for completing each of the eight dungeons, respectively, in which your quest as the player ultimately begins.

Not to start off on a sour note, but the number of times the quest had to be explained got annoying quick. Link’s guide, which serves as an owl, insists on mentioning an excessive number of times that your ultimate goal is to wake the Wind Fish with the eight instruments. Alright, I get it. The owl also frequently holds the player’s hand by telling them exactly where to go after each dungeon is completed which is irritatingly confrontational.

On the other hand, the overworld itself is great for exploration and discovery to occupy the player when they aren’t focusing on the main quest. Nintendo’s designers are simply masters at structuring overworlds meant for mindless exploration. The inclusion of caves, secrets, side collectables, and diverse enemies are just a few of the many elements sprinkled throughout Koholint Island.

An aspect I didn’t expect any flaws in were the dungeons. Although there is the occasional, stupidly effortless puzzle or room, the dungeons are pretty solid. Earning each dungeon-specific gadget is rewarding not only in the sense that you can finally beat the dungeon you’re in, but satisfying in the sense that it’ll help you on the outside, too (except for the power bracelet upgrade, which I’m pretty sure isn’t necessary anywhere outside its dungeon-intended use).

A pleasant addition to this remake was Dampé’s dungeon creator. This surprisingly enjoyable side-activity has the player create their own dungeons, and are rewarded for completing specific tasks. Perhaps Nintendo should make the Zelda equal to Super Mario Maker.

By all means, this is a solid Zelda remake. Although I can’t shake the feeling this was only created to transform an old, random title into a crowd-pleasing, modern-gen title with cute, colorful graphics, it is still a rewarding experience. Like the original, it is very nontranscendant and standard, especially within the franchise, but it has just enough Zelda charm to make it likable.

7/10

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