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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is my favorite 2D Zelda game. I’ve played Phantom Hourglass, A Link to the Past, and now Link’s Awakening but that 3DS original continues to be my favorite.  

I wouldn’t have played Link’s Awakening if Nintendo didn’t remake it for the Switch. The most Game Boy I experienced was Pokemon Yellow via emulator. I owned a Game Boy Advance but we only bought Pokemon Ruby for it. The Game Boy was a Pokemon machine and nothing else.  

For the longest time I mistakenly thought Link’s Awakening was a lite version of A Link to the Past for the handheld. There were some resemblances to the SNES classic but this was a wholly original adventure. However, it had some shockingly rudimentary side-scrolling segments. This was surprising coming from the makers of Super Mario. I realize it’s likely a faithful adaptation from the Game Boy days but those moments stood out as oddities considering the Goombas and other Mario hallmarks within them. 

Nintendo have always been very good at creating a beautiful and timeless aesthetic for their 2D games and I think this may be their best work yet. Unfortunately uncharacteristic performance dips frequently plague the overworld and even occasionally in dungeons. They were not game breaking but it was odd to see these issues so prevalent in a Nintendo developed title. I even waited a few months in hopes for a patch but ultimately gave up on that idea. 

These issues are even more boggling when a more graphically and technologically ambitious title like Luigi’s Mansion 3 is so performant.  

Thankfully the flow of the game was not nearly as bumpy. I hit some trouble spots with locating a few entrances but after night’s sleep I was able to pick out that cracked wall or finally recall the part of the map that I didn’t revisit yet. Progress was not as straightforward as it could have been but that’s part of the original’s DNA. 

Remakes in general are tricky propositions. How much does one change? How faithful does it have to be to the original? Some of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening’s flow issues could have been ironed out but that would have resulted in a much shorter game. Upon reflection, I think this remake did a bang up job walking that line between modernizing and remaining faithful to the original. If I can pick up a guide referring to the Game Boy version and have it still be relevant in this 2019 remake, I think they’re onto something. It’s a shame about the performance issues though.  

Verdict: 
I liked it

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