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Zelda: Link's Awakening screenshot

Zelda: Links Awakening (NS) – whats a chain chomp doing in a Zelda game?

One of the best old school Zelda games makes the jump from Game Boy to Nintendo Switch, but how does it compare to more modern rivals?

If you were one of those people that were upset that Zelda: Breath Of The Wild didnt have bigger and more complex dungeons (which is a perfectly valid point of view) then the old school approach of Links Awakening is going to be right up your alley. Its a remake of the 26-year-old Game Boy game of the same name, a console so technologically backwards your fridge probably has more processing power nowadays. Which makes it all the more incredible just how well the game stands up in the modern era.

When it first came out, Links Awakening was only the fourth ever Zelda game. And if you discount the black sheep of the family that is Zelda II it was only the third to use the original formula. At first it was just supposed to be a port of SNES game A Link To The Past, but while the map is similar the story evolved into something quite different and became one of the few entries not to feature Hyrule, the Triforce, or Princess Zelda.

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Despite this the gameplay and structure is very traditional – just imagine A Link To The Past without the light/dark world gimmick – but the tone and atmosphere is much more whimsical than other Zelda games, despite having one of the best plot twists in the series. And yet beneath its cheery exterior lies a full-fat Zelda experience that offers just as much challenge, surprise, and invention as the very best entries in the franchise.

The story behind Links Awakening is as minimalistic as normal for a Zelda game and involves Link being caught in a storm at sea and ending up shipwrecked on a mysterious island. Youre told that awakening the Wind Fish, who apparently resides in an egg atop the highest mountain peak, is the only way you can leave. Which in turn involves recovering eight magical instruments guarded by the bosses of some very old school dungeons.

Most of the items are familiar from other Zelda games and while theres no central gimmick there is an unusual amount of short 2D sections and the curious, and never officially explained, presence of numerous Mario enemies, from chain chomps to goombas. But rather than ignore these odd additions the remake leans into it and embraces the less serious tone.

As you would expect, the graphics have been significantly upgraded from the Game Boy original and while the game is still viewed from a top-down perspective the art style makes everything look like wooden or clay models, with the human characters portrayed as dinky little Fisher-Price style action figures and the monsters as grinning, cartoonish villains. It looks great, with a clever use of depth of field that make it seem like youre looming over some sort of toy shop diorama.

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In terms of level layout and gameplay though everything is more or less exactly as it was in the original. The overworld now scrolls around in all directions, but the dungeons are still made up of flip-screen rooms with identical designs and puzzles. And while Link has a little more freedom of movement, and a dedicated sword and shield button, combat is really no more complex than it was before.

The lack of change is a testament to the quality of the Game Boy original and the whole point of the remake is that everything is still perfectly entertaining the way it is. The combat and artificial intelligence may be considerably more simplistic than Breath Of The Wild but the puzzles are often more complicated. Youd think there wasnt much you could do with single-screen dungeon rooms but a number of them had us scratching our heads (and in one instance watching a Game Boy walkthrough for a solution) more than for any other recent Zelda.

Zelda: Link's Awakening screenshot

Zelda: Links Awakening (NS) – they dont make em like this anymore

Where Links Awakening and Breath Of The Wild definitely have something in common is that both are completely devoid of quest markers and explicit instructions, and often all Links Awakening does is suggest a generation direction on the map and leave you to work out the rest. Sometimes progress can revolve around a seemingly random discovery, such as a hidden stairway beneath a hedgerow, but theres always a clear logic and a breadcrumb trail of clues leading you forward.

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In terms of explicit differences in the remake youre talking about very small details. Fairy bottles have been added, although they dont trigger automatically, and the maximum number of hearts you can collect has increased. Therere also more fast travel warp points than before, but these are really the only attempts to lessen the difficultly (which was never particularly high, by the standards of the time).

All of this makes total sense from a design standpoint as, at around 15 hours, the length of the game is perfect in terms of not outstaying its welcome. Shoehorning in extra dungeons or areas would probably never have worked, especially as there technically is one already, added by the DX version for the Game Boy Color, and it still looks and feels completely separate from the rest of the adventure.

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Since this is a full price game though, there is a serious question to be asked in terms of value for money. The only attempt to add extra longevity is via Chamber Dungeons, which allow you to create your own dungeons by piecing together rooms from existing ones into new layouts. You collect more rooms as you beat normal dungeons, and there are challenges to create layouts with specific entrances and boss areas, but weRead More – Source

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