Gaming History 101

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Link’s Awakening DX Review

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Link’s Awakening was the first Zelda title to be released to the Game Boy, it was also the first Zelda title to receive an updated version in the form of Link’s Awakening DX released to the Game Boy Color.  It was the first of the series I played to completion and to this day I hold quite the soft spot for this title. With it being Zelda season on Gaming History 101 I was excited to revisit this title and review it for the site. So its time to strap on those nostalgia goggles and dive back into some old school handheld Zelda.

links_awakening_1Link’s Awakening puts you back in the shoes of one of the Links from the complex Zelda timeline presented in the official Hyrule Hystoria. Of course this game came out long before Dark Horse comics felt that we needed it spelt out for us, so my assumption for the time was that Link was on a well deserved holiday from the difficult sequel that was Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. After ending up shipwrecked and on an island a couple of islands down from the one featured in the TV series LOST, Link finds himself being rescued by a young girl who Link mistakes for Zelda. Interesting fact: this is the only Zelda game not to feature Zelda. Link soon discovers the only way home is to hatch the wind fish, which for “Nintendo logic” resides in a egg on top of a mountain. The only way to hatch it is to collect the seven dragon balls, sorry I mean the eight instruments which need to be played together. In typical Zelda fashion all these instruments live in a dungeon in some obscure location, guarded by a gigantic boss character. Unlike the first game you really don’t have much flexibility in the order you can do the dungeons. You are allowed to freely explore the open world but you will be linearly guided through each dungeon as the items you collect will be required to access the next dungeon.

links_awakening_2Link’s Awakening returns to the top down prospective which suits the portable very well. In the first game you are literally just thrown into the world and just expected to figure things out yourself. In this game you are given a idea of where you need to head next by talking to the local town folk or finding a handy owl statue. As well as the main quest there are a lot of mini side quests to do which will net you a very useful item that will help you in your quest, like additional heart pieces or item upgrades.

There are a lot of dungeons to explore in this game, a lot of which feature what I like to call the “Zelda Wall.” This is where you get as far as you can in the game and then just get flat out stuck. Possibly to the extent where you throw your Game Boy Color out the window, and refuse to pick the game up for another month. Usually the solution is something fairly simple but its not always easy to figure out. But once you know you will never forget it. Despite the wall the dungeons really are the highlight of the game and the boss at the end of each level is actually a ton of fun.

links_awakening_3This being the DX version of the Game Boy original there are some extra features to the game, the main one being it’s beautiful presentation in full colour as opposed to that pretend colour scheme you get when you put a original Game Boy game into a Game Boy Colour. The game also includes a bonus dungeon which can only be explored with the Game Boy Colour as the puzzles make use of the colour screen. Completing this will allow you to take advantage of one of two items to help your gameplay experience for the rest of the quest.

The music is pretty awesome for a handheld game. You will hear a few familiar tunes from the Zelda series but the game also has some memorable scores that have not been featured repeatedly in the rest of the series.

If you are familiar with the items in the Zelda games up to this point then you will know what to expect here. They are all here: the hookshot, bow and arrow, bombs; however, one new addition is the feather which allows Link to jump which is pretty awesome. Like with a lot of Zelda games it’s a ton of fun seeing Link gradually get more items and heart pieces and become more of a bad ass as opposed to the three heart piece weakling you start out as at the start of the game.

This is a long game for a handheld. With the odd “Zelda Wall,” this game could keep you busy easily for a couple of months and that’s just doing the main quest alone. There are a few side quests and you can do some exploring to find a few hidden mini games like fishing which are a welcome treat. If you don’t want to be a perfectionist and collect absolutely everything but the option is there. Of course doing each little side quest gives you some very useful items which will help with the main quest.

Link's Awakening also borrows from another classic Nintendo franchise

Link’s Awakening also borrows from another classic Nintendo franchise.

Overall, Link’s Awakening is not only a fantastic portable Zelda game but a real contender for one of the best in the series. Of course this is just my opinion and many will debate a different title in the series, or maybe you just hate Zelda in general in which case thanks for reading this far in my review. The game is huge for a portable title and is a great to pick up and play whether you are on the go or just taking it easy in your home while watching some TV. It really is one of those titles that shows the Game Boy was a very capable hand held. If your a Zelda fan and have not checked this out then head over to that eShop right now and download it for your 3DS, that or spend a crazy amount of money getting a physical copy and enjoy. Either way this is a title not to be missed and if you do end up stranded on a desert island, this really is a good game to be stuck with to pass the time.

Final Score: 5 out of 5  (review policy)

Looking for information on the game’s release, value, or a guide?  Check out the profile page.

Written by jamalais

June 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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