The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
Format: Nintendo 3DS eShop Virtual Console / Game Boy Color
Release Date: 1st January 1999 / 7th June 2011 (vc)
Another first here, this time my first Zelda. I originally owned it in good old black and white and at the time I was unaware that Zelda was such a loved franchise, or even a franchise at all. The open world island of Koholint was unlike anything I’d seen before and the mysteries and characters pulled me into the monochrome world. I was useless at the puzzles, always got lost and spent over a year playing it before I reached the end, yet it felt like a grand adventure to me.It was the first time a video game managed to develop an emotional attachment as I slowly learnt the truth of the island and what would happen to the villagers I’d been interacting with and the Ballad Of The Wind Fish tune always gave me the chills. I was so impressed I bought the color edition a few years later, small additions but a splattering of new life thanks to the bright hues brightening up the land. Now with the happy memories tucked away in my mind I go back with the 3DS download edition to see if the Link’s Awakening is still a dreamy epic.
It is just how I last left it. An oddity in the Zelda-verse which mixes Nintendo enemies such as Goomba’s and evil Kirby’s with talking animals, an egg which needs waking by the power of eight instruments, a crocodile which loves canned food and being zapped by the shopkeeper for stealing; a bizarre dream world indeed. It followed the typical Zelda style of play with the puzzle heavy dungeons, items to get farther through the world and good old Rinky Dink Link, but the story and cast is as far out there from the past titles and even most of the modern tales. Hacking monsters up and tackling a tricky block puzzle is forever satisfying and the music and subtle story is a classic. Problems have popped up since I last played it though. The game just isn’t very user-friendly.
The world is rather large and there is a certain way you have to go about doing things to make it through the game. You also need to use a wide variety of items on the go to overcome tricky obstacles, puzzles and monsters. With the advancements in narrative and ease of use, Link’s Awakening comes across as a bit foggy and messy. The dream can turn into a nightmare because of these problems. After each dungeon the game provides cryptic hints on what to do next and the old man who gives hint through the telephone isn’t much help. Also two items equipped at one time just isn’t enough. Every screen of the game tends to involve pausing and switching items a couple of times to accomplish something and it begins to grate. It would have been nice if they used the 3DS’s extra buttons to prevent this irritation.
The problems only irritate for a short while however. It isn’t long before the game draws you into it’s fantastic quest of Link trying to wake the mighty Wind Fish. Instead of worrying about the next destination, you’ll have fun finding secret caves and treasures. It is the best 2D Zelda, the best top down Zelda and the best portable Zelda. It is a link to the past for me (sorry) and one link which remains strong. Go and wake the Wind Fish once more.