The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening pits our never-to-have-his-name-on-top-billing elf boy Link in a quest to get out of the island of Koholint and find out its secrets. It’s also Nintendo’s way of shoehorning its Nintendo mascots and iconic characters into a Zelda game because everyone knows how the game ended.
Keep in mind that this is a 1993 Game Boy title for parents who wanted a cheaper alternative to the SNES and to shut their kids up with an action-adventure Zelda game, only to have themselves be addicted to it once the wee ones are asleep. And because Nintendo has a dearth of old games to remake and remaster for the Switch, they figured why not go with this portable classic?
So is this Switch title worth the RM200 or so price tag? Well, the experience is no nightmare, but it isn’t a slumberland escapade either.
Nintendo definitely did a good job at recreating the Game Boy classic, I’ll give it that. Koholint Island never looked and sounded better. The cartoony miniature effect-like aesthetics make every living creature from your moblins to your stalfoses look like a dream-esque playset duking it out with our green-clad hero.
Coupled with the well-done remixes of the 90s game’s synthesized tunes, it’s clear as day that Nintendo’s job at doling out a fresh pair of rose-tinted action-adventure glasses will impress many in the first few hours.
The game itself from its controls to its simple “explore everything, and tackle dank dungeons” flow is easy to jump and get into quick. The game throws a few curveballs at you within its creature-themed dungeons, but it’s nothing players cannot solve with some ingenuity and some trial-and-error.
Problem is, some of the puzzles are also kept just as obtuse and as old-school. Unless you’ve played the Game Boy version a couple of times, you wouldn’t know about the game’s runaround trading section. You’ll waste more time backtracking instead of moving forward, with no clear indication as to where to head to next. Sure, you have telephone booths, trees, and owl statues that dish out advice, but they don’t notify you of the steps in-between.
Discovering puzzle solutions and whatnot is fine and is part and parcel of an action-adventure game, but if your only source of help is with a discontinued 1993 title, it does show that this remake can’t stand on its own two feet and needs the original for validation.
Still, whatever action that you experience on this remake is still fun 26 years later. You’ll figure out how to deal with genies hiding in bottles with the power of carrying and throwing stuff. You’ll keep an eye out for suspicious walls and ground marks to blow up and dig respectively.
Most importantly, you’ll enjoy all the nods and cameos that appear in this ephemeral fantasy of a world, including the 2D platforming segments.
Technically, there is a new feature here where you can build a custom dungeon and explore it for loot and score attack’s sake. But that will wear out its welcome unless you’re really into the niche hobby of exploring top-down action-adventure levels with little payoff at the end.
Link’s Awakening is comfort food; nothing more and nothing less. Those expecting a huge leap in gameplay ala Breath of the Wild will not find much new ground being broken here.
Instead, you should just relish in its charmingly-presented top-down action-adventure puzzle-filled medley, made anew for people who didn’t know what monochrome portable gaming that needed constant AA batteries-feeding was.
For retro gamers, Link’s Awakening for the Switch will bring back the feels especially when going through its bittersweet climax once more in 3D and remastered audio. If you want more than 5+ hours of back-and-forth adventuring though, you may not want to pay full price for this yet.
- Great aesthetics.
- A nice treat for casual fans who want a top-down Zelda game.
- Classic to a fault.
- Can be obtuse for those not familiar with the original 90s title.
- Adds nothing new to the formula, even for a remake.
- Custom dungeons are middling.
FINAL SCORE: 60/100