This day 23 years ago, a new Zelda game launched on the Gameboy system and it was epic. The tale of the young hero called Link who became shipwrecked and stranded at on an island. Takashi Tezuka was the brilliant mind who developed The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Assisted by Shigeru Miyamoto and developed originally as a port of the fantastic A Link to the Past. A commercial and critical success Link’s Awakening was a fantastic attempt at creating a portable Zelda game.
Link’s Awakening begins as usual with Link waking up in bed (a recurring theme in past and future Zelda games). A girl named Marin had found the shipwrecked Link while taking a stroll on the beach. Link while dazed and confused musters the energy to find his wreckage at the beach. At the beach an owl informs him that if the Wind Fish remains asleep, Link will not escape Koholint. The Wind Fish’s slumber is keeping the citizens of Koholint trapped and Link must wake him. Imparted with knowledge Link sets out on his new mission. From this point onward Link’s Awakening plays almost exactly like every other Zelda game. It features 8 dungeons and multiple items, a song system predating Ocarina of Time and a magical adventure.
But, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was unique in a very interesting manner. This game took itself much less seriously while still proposing a complex moral dilemma which Link must face. How far will you go to accomplish your goals, if it will cost another being everything they knew existed? At the end of the game Link must make a choice, does he follow through with his objective (he does) or does he let the illusion continue? While this made for a very interesting and compelling story it doesn’t stand up to the amount of interesting things which Koholint island has to offer the player.
In Koholint Island you will find many creatures which belong to other Nintendo series (primarily, but restricted to Mario Bros). Link will encounter Goombas, Kirby, Wart, a Yoshi doll, Dr. Wright (from SimCity), a Chomp, along with Tarin resembling Mario himself. Link could visit an arcade, or even set animals on fire with magic. He even collected pictures which are printable using the GameBoy Printer. Link can make phone calls to a hint line, or even meet a mermaid by the cove. Link could swim in the ocean, find a boomerang in a cave by trading an item for it. You could even collect seashells in order to gain a magic blade, and my personal favorite steal from the shop in town and be labeled a thief (I discovered this by accident I Swear).
Link’s Awakening was a massive game considering the limitations of the GameBoy. Nintendo went all in demonstrating the capabilities of the GameBoy. It shows the effort Nintendo was willing to put into creating a truly enjoyable portable Zelda experience. Link’s Awakening was also the first game to include the fishing mini-game in Zelda.
The game had the standard Zelda difficulty, and even offered a fragment of extra content to those who finished the game without dying once. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was truly a game worthy of its namesake. What started out as a side-project became its own entity and Link’s Awakening became a very special entry in the Zelda universe. Link’s Awakening became even better when they released the DX version the GBC.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX included an extra dungeon which could offer the player a tunic of a specific color. This would act as a semi-permanent upgrade to Link which could make him stronger or more defensive. Link’s Awakening DX was also the version which you could use to print pictures. The pictures were very awesome and you needed at least two playthroughs to see them all. Finally the game can now be played on 3DS via virtual console, and it is still every bit as great as it was when the game released.
If you’ve never played The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening previously, I recommend purchasing a digital copy. Link’s Awakening is a classic in the Nintendo portable library and will forever be remembered fondly as an unusual, but truly legendary Zelda game.