Widely regarded as one of the weirdest and one of the best games in this legendary series, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening holds a special place in the hearts of series fans. Though the original game came out on the Game Boy, it didn’t let hardware limitations get in the way of delivering a memorable, quintessential Zelda experience. It goes without saying then that a remake is something a great many people have been looking forward with a lot of interest- and some trepidation. That’s how it goes with remakes of beloved classics, after all.
As we prepare to jump back into Koholint Island, in this feature, we’ll be taking a look at some of the key things you should know about the remake, and why you should be excited for it. Without further ado then, let’s jump right in.
Let’s start with the basics- something those who played the original will know already, but newcomers might not. Unlike most other Zelda titles, Link’s Awakening isn’t set in Hyrule. It is, instead, set on Koholint Island, an idyllic place with quirky inhabitants and the regular monster population that you’d expect from this series. At the beginning of the game, Link’s ship is caught in a storm, and when he wakes up, he finds himself on the island, after being rescued by a girl named Marin. From here, he embarks on a question to awaken a being known as the Wind Fish in order to escape the island, for which he needs to traverse across Koholint and gather eight instruments.
NEW ART STYLE
On the Game Boy, Link’s Awakening looked very much like a continuation of the A Link to the Past art style (within the limitations and restrictions of the Game Boy hardware, of course), but with the Switch remake, Nintendo have gone for something a bit different. The Link’s Awkening remake adopts a “retro-modern” art style, featuring toy-like character models and a world designed like a diorama. It’s very different from the stuff we’ve seen from this series in the past, but given that this is Link’s Awakening, “different” and “weird” are things we should all be expecting anyway.
The original Link’s Awakening was based on a tile design, with the entire world and all the dungeons being separated into various tiles. When players moved to the edge of one tile, the screen shifted over to the next one. Not being bound by the Game Boy’s hardware limitations anymore, Link’s Awakening obviously won’t need to do that- that said, some sections of the game’s dungeon won’t fit the entire screen, because their puzzles or bosses had been specifically been designed to work within the original game’s tile design.
The Link’s Awakening remake also a tilt-shift effect for exaggerated depth of field effects. According to series producer Eiji Aonuma, this was done to evoke the visual effects and feel of the original game.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Switch remake isn’t being developed in-house at Nintendo. Instead, it’s development is being handled by Grezzo, the developers of the 3DS RPG Ever Oasis. They also worked on the 3DS remaster of Luigi’s Mansion, but more notably, they have experience with Zelda games as well, having worked on the 3DS remasters of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
The Switch remake isn’t the first time Nintendo are going back to Link’s Awakening– they also remastered the original game for the Game Boy Color, and other than updated visuals, Link’s Awakening DX also included a new dungeon, called the Color Dungeon. As you may have guessed, the Switch remake includes this dungeon as well, so all the content Link’s Awakening has ever had is going to be in the remake.
Owing to the limited number of buttons available on the Game Boy, Link’s Awakening required players to constantly keep switching out equipment and items based on the enemies or puzzles they faced. It could be a bit of a hassle, to say the least. With the remake though, Nintendo have made some quality of life improvements. For starters, your sword and shield are now equipped permanently, which means you no longer have to keep switching them in or out. Meanwhile, some other items like the Pegasus Boots and the Power Bracelet also become permanently equipped once you acquire them.
MINIGAMES AND SIDESCROLLING SECTIONS
Those who played the original Link’s Awakening will remember that the game made use of some pretty unique side-scrolling sections. Though Link’s Awakening is not the only Zelda game to have sidescrolling gameplay, it’s still pretty unique for the series. These sections will, of course, be returning as is in the remake. Beyond that, players can also expect to see some changes in some of the minigames. For instance, the claw crane minigame will now have more realistic physics.
There are a few other additions that will impact the gameplay beyond the aforementioned quality of life changes. For instance, the game will now have Fairy Bottles- these bottles can be obtained by completing Challenge Dungeons. Additionally, while the maximum capacity for life in the original game was 14 hearts, that’s been increased to 20 hearts in the remake.
Oh, and speaking of Chamber Dungeons…
Zelda fans have been asking for a Zelda level editor in vein of Mario Maker for some time now, and though we’re not getting that just yet (if ever), Link’s Awakening does have something along those lines. As you play through the game and finish its dungeons, you’ll acquire rooms from these dungeons. You can then use these rooms to create your own dungeons by visit Dampe at his shack, by connecting various rooms together.
Chamber Dungeons might not have the same freedom of creation that a proper level editor might offer, but it’s still something that promises to increase replay value in a game that isn’t the longest. But there will be more content to do just that as well. Players will also be able to complete these dungeons in a Time Attack mode. Doing so will give you the aforementioned Fairy Bottles.
Amiibo support is something that we’ve all come to expect in Nintendo games, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is going to be no different. Players can use amiibos to activate enhanced effects in chamber dungeons. Using the new Link figure being released alongside the remake, for instance, will add Shadow Link to the Chamber Dungeons. Shadow Link will chase players around, making the dungeon more difficult, and in turn, increasing the value of the rewards you earn once you complete the dungeon.
Those looking to get Link’s Awakening physically also have the option to buy one of two special editions for the game. There’s the Dreamer Edition, which costs $70 and includes the base game and a hardcover art book. The second one is the Limited Edition, which only seems to be available in Europe and Australia. It costs £70, and other than the base game, it includes a hardcover 120-page art book, as well as a Game Boy-themed steelbook case.