The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Review

Link and The Flying Whale

By: Paul Koehler

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 6
   Plot 6
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

10-20 Hours


Title Screen

   It is hard to imagine that 15 years have passed since The Legend of Zelda was released for the NES. Since then, gamers have followed Link through seven adventures on four consoles and a brief cartoon series in the early 90's. Link even holds a seat of honor in the cast of Super Smash Brothers, where he plays against Nintendo's "hall of fame" characters. How did he do it? Well, all of the Zelda games have done well over the years, and the series' freshman effort on the Game Boy system, Link's Awakening, is no exception.

To the credit of the game's designers, the battle system did not need to be changed significantly. The formula developed by the original Zelda game has been the standard for many Adventure/RPG games, and Link's Awakening is no exception. It is nice to see some of the new items used in Zelda: A Link to the Past (released two years prior for the SNES), like the Pegasus Boots. As this adventure takes place in a dream world, Link gets a chance to use many of these items with his old arsenal. The enemies will provide an amusing diversion, and the quick pace of battles keep the game going until the very end. Each dungeon also provides enough of a challenge that the gamer will need to use all of his resources as the game progresses.

For such a game, the submenus are very simplistic and easy to use. Press select to see the world map, press start to switch items. That's it. Intertwine this with the fast-moving battles, and it is easy to see why this game earned its place in the Zelda series, as well as being one of the best sounding AND looking Game Boy titles made for a long time.

Silly Little Comment on Screen
What, no Triforce?  

   Not much can be said for Game Boy music, but the plot of Link's Awakening centers around it, so it is fitting that Nintendo spent some time developing the score. For the Game Boy, it is exceptional. From the 8-instrument tune of the Wind Fish Ballad (played piece by piece with each instrument, then all together seamlessly), the Mamba Fish Ocarina Song, and the Zelda theme make this an excellent musical score.

Although not on par with the rest of the game's elements, the plot provides a backdrop for the rest of the game. Just the idea of a flying whale is good enough for a few laughs, but it's even better when the ending credits go by as you see the "Wind Fish" himself.

To the benefit of North American players, Link's Awakening received a through translation. Not that there is much to translate in the Zelda series, but Nintendo had the smart sense to localize on of its best series of games the right way.

Cutesy or Realistic Name
Do NOT hit the dog right now. You will regret it.  

  Was it really possible to have such good graphics on a Game Boy title released in 1993? Let me set the record straight…Link's Awakening makes Pokemon look like the kiddie game it is. Why else would this game receive such a rave review for its re-release on the Game Boy Color? This is a title that took many elements from its immediate predecessor on the SNES and ported them to the inferior Game Boy, while preserving most of the game's appearance at the same time. Looking at the accomplishment then was impressive, and looking at it in retrospective today is STILL impressive.

All of this comes in a game that doesn't take a long time to finish. Find your sword, clear eight dungeons, finish a few sub-quests, and finish the game. It won't seem that way, however, because the game flows so well that you might spend more effort listening to the Mamba Fish tune for the first time. (Not really, but hey…the music is catchy!).


You know the deal-title it.
Genies are nothing next to the Power Bracelet!  

When I bought a Game Boy Classic system eight years ago, I opted to pass on Tetris and buy this game instead. I couldn't have been have been happier. As a reviewer it is my job to look at the parts of the games I play, and especially point out any flaws that might make these games suck. Notice how I have trouble finding anything wrong.

Link earned his place in Super Smash Brothers for many reasons, and although Link's Awakening can be considered a small part of the Zelda saga, the game itself was an impressive feat for its time. Best of all, it still remains a fun game to play after all these years.

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