Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening released this past Friday for the Switch and is already a huge success. Early reports indicate that its launch day sell-through has surpassed Super Mario Maker 2, making it Nintendo’s biggest launch of 2019 thus far. The game has received praise for its visuals, presentation and for capturing the spirit of the original Game Boy release.
However, mechanically, it does sport some major differences. One of those is the change to screen transitions. In the original release – and in old-school, top-down Zelda games overall – the game would “scroll” over when moving from one screen to the next. This has changed in the new Link’s Awakening to help prevent players from feeling blocked.
As series producer Eiji Aonuma explained to IGN in an email, “The original The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening game has the ‘Zelda scroll’ feature, where the map scrolls in single-screen units, which is a traditional part of 2D-Zelda games. But including a standard transition between screens as the player moves around makes it difficult to grasp how the layout of the map is connected, which caused people to get lost.
“So in the reimagining, we made it so that you can move around the world seamlessly. This removed the feeling of being blocked when playing the original, and helped make it more of a stress-free game to play.”
Link’s overall movement has remained the same, however. As Aonuma explained, “Link, the playable character in the original, moved according to digital input in eight directions: up, down, left, right and diagonals, and the entire game was designed around that style of movement. If we were to completely replace that with analog input to allow free movement in all directions, we’d also need to redesign the gameplay itself, and the way the game feels and responds would be entirely different.
“So, taking into account that it’s now possible to move seamlessly around the map, what we did is keep the original movement in eight directions and made some adjustments to the game overall to make sure the feel and response don’t differ too much from the original.”
So while the changes may seem mostly visual at first, there’s actually a lot going on underneath that makes the remake fundamentally different from the original. For more information on The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Switch, head here. You can also listen to the “Ballad of the Wind Fish” theme here, now with full vocals.