The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening- Review  

A Grand Little Adventure
by Lucky Melchior

Less than 20 Hours
+ Excellent battle system.
+ Outstanding score with old and new music.
+ Overall an enjoyable game.
- Limited Storyline
- Limited graphics.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   In 1993 Nintendo released the fourth installment of it's legendary quasi-RPG series, The Legend of Zelda, on the gameboy as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. This was the first time the series was released on a handheld. Could the enjoyable gameplay that made the Zelda series a hit be translated to a hand-held system?

   This game employs the famous Zelda battle system. The overworld and dungeons are displayed from a top-down perspective. You encounter enemies in real-time in dungeons and on the overworld. You have a trusty sword, that you can hack and slash at enemies with; a shield to repel certain projectiles, both your sword and shield can be upgraded as you progress through the game, and a cache of other tools and equipment to use. These tools include classic Zelda staples such as bombs, the boomerang, etc. However, there is one new tool, the roc's feather, which allows link to jump. This allows for more action oriented gameplay and puzzles, and this being a Zelda title there are plenty of puzzles to solve in each dungeon. In fact, each dungeon has some side scrolling areas, with monsters from the mario games such as goombas making cameo's, which feature some platforming elements. Another big change to the battle system is that your sword and shield are no longer fixed to a particular button. Rather, you assign two items to either the "A" or "B" buttons. It is possible to have neither your sword nor your shield equipped, but two tools. This leads to another interesting innovation to the battle system, you can combine the two tools equipped to form a new action. For example if you have the bow and bomb equipped you can shoot an arrow with a bomb on it or if you have the feather and sword equipped you can execute a jumping sword slash. There are several combinations and it adds to the fun of the battle system and gameplay. Overall, the battle system and gameplay are excellent as you would expect from a Zelda title.

Collect the instruments to wake the Wind Fish Collect the instruments to wake the Wind Fish

   The story takes a different path than most standard Zelda games. The game takes place shortly after the events of a Link to the Past. Links sets out on a journey to hone his skills, but his ship gets caught in a storm and he is marooned on a mysterious island call Koholint. You will meet a strange owl who explains that to leave the island you must gather the eight sacred instruments and wake the Wind Fish who sleeps in an egg on top of the highest mountain peak on the island. The owl will periodically visit you and give you hints and directions to your next goal. There are a few interesting characters you will meet along the way as you try to unravel the mysteries of the island. In the end the story is limited as is typical with action adventure games, and is average overall.

   The best aspect of Link's Awakening is the score. Of course various versions of the famous Zelda theme are prevalent throughout the game. The Tal Tal Heights theme is an outstanding uptempo melody with almost a techno beat to it. The shrine theme is an eerie melody that fits the situation. Moreover, each dungeon has it's own unique melody which adds a lot of variety to the soundtrack. Overall this title has outstanding musical presentation.

A storm wrecks your ship. A storm wrecks your ship.

   Conversely, the visuals, while not bad, are severely limited by the technical capabilities of the gameboy. Despite these limitations the graphics are acceptable. There are reasonably detailed sprites and environs. Moreover, I feel the black/white/grey tones fit well into the theme of the game. However, if you simply must have color you can plug your cartridge into a supergameboy or pick-up the DX version on the GBC.

    The interaction and interface are excellent. The menu system is simple and effective. Pressing start brings up the menu which is divided into two half's. The left side displays your sword, shield and tools. You can select which items you want assigned to the "A" and "B" buttons. On the right side your quest status is displayed. This will show all your unequippable items such as keys and how many instruments you have collected do far. Also, the localization was pretty solid, you almost always understand what the character's are saying and there is often some subtle humor embedded in the conversations.

   The fourth Legend of Zelda game features a solid battle system, a beautiful score, acceptable graphics considering the limitations of the gameboy, a very good interface and is just a flat out enjoyable game. Link’s Awakening is a wonderful game that is arguably the best game for the original gameboy. With the backward compatibility of the Gameboy Advance gamers who have never experienced this tiny wonder should pick it up and gamers who have should take the opportunity to replay a classic

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