Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 23, 2019

Switch Review: Link’s Awakening

Artwork of a boy in a tropical island environment, with a mountain capped by a purple-spotted egg in the background; the game's logo printed in the center

Readers have noticed that I do not mention Link’s Awakening much when talking about Zelda. I played Link’s Awakening on Gameboy when it came out, and my copy did get stolen by someone. The truth is that I honestly don’t remember much about it. Everytime I sat down to replay it, the game felt too aged. A big reason for this is because Gameboy gaming doesn’t age well, and who wants to play on a small little screen when so many superior ways to play handhelds exist?

The question is whether or not this game even needed to be ‘remastered’. I suppose so since its original platform, the Gameboy, is just sooo aged today that this game was being risked being lost to history.

Should you buy Link’s Awakening? If you like SNES Link to the Past, maybe. If you do not like SNES Link to the Past, I would avoid Link’s Awakening like the plague. This is probably the game that has the worst ‘linear formula’ ever in a Zelda game. If it was linear formula like Super Mario Brothers where you go from point A to point B, that would be fine. However, Link’s Awakening tries to mimic the open world gameplay of Zelda 1 but everything is filled with linear ‘puzzles’.

And the puzzles are stupid.

In fact, this entire game is stupid.

The entire game exists in Link’s dream. None of it happens. None of it exists. When you beat the game, it all vanishes.

So, first off, the linear progression of the game (you can only beat puzzles ONE particular way) pisses me off to no end. But at least I get to see new monsters and new types of fights, right? NOPE. Link’s Awakening recycles most of the parts of Link to the Past.

“But that should be good, Malstrom. Link to the Past is good.”

But not when used like this. Remember the Tower of Hera centipede boss you fought for the third necklace in Link to the Past? You fight the same creature here as the first boss. Aside from the ‘jump’ feather item, there is nothing new here in terms of items.

Since the game is a ‘dream’, they get to throw whatever shit they want into Hyrule. There are goombas, Kirbies, and Thwomps plus more! “This is soooo cute, Malstrom! Tee hee!” Fuck you. I don’t want Mario units in Zelda game. It’s just stupid, and fucking lazy on Nintendo.

I DO like the 2d style of gameplay that some areas have. The game plays like Link in Super Mario Maker 2. That is the most fun in the entire game, honestly. The puzzles sucked donkey balls. However, the platforming in the 2d sections was way more fun. The dungeons could be fun too somewhat. But it was puzzles and puzzles just to not only get to the dungeons, but to find ridiculous keys for those dungeons.

“But the graphics, Malstrom, OMG.” The graphics are boring. What happened to cool pixel style?

“But the humor!” The humor sucks. I don’t care to talk to talking animals.

Link’s Awakening, in terms of GAME DESIGN, is deeply, deeply flawed. The VALUE of Link’s Awakening doesn’t come from the game, in and of itself, but of its time period. It is one of the biggest Gameboy games ever made, and not too many Gameboy games could put out that much content. But now that you have plopped it on a modern handheld next to games like Zelda: BoW “Wow!”, Witcher 3, Dragon Quest IX, etc., the game gets completely blown out of the water. Link’s Awakening has absolutely no value to it except for being a retro revival of a game you wouldn’t want to play in its original version. That’s it.

I love Link to the Past gameplay. Too bad Link’s Awakening is really shitty in its combat to even get close to that. Superficially, it is the same, but none of it seems to revolve around any ‘arcade skill’. There are no real rpg elements, either. It is just a zigzag of ‘only one solution’ puzzles in an environment that has no cohesion and makes no sense.

I don’t like the Chomp chomp as pet. I don’t think it is funny. I find all the mechanics annoying. I couldn’t wait until I finally got done with this game so I could take it out and probably never play it again.

Oh, and the ‘make your own dungeons’ part of the game? It really sucks. It was sooo disappointing. All you do is unlock ’tiles’ of same exact rooms of dungeons you have already cleared. Then you can re-arrange them! Sounds exciting? It isn’t. I even had the Link’s Awakening amiibo, and tried all my Zelda amiibos, and it all was boring.

Look, Nintendo, if you are going to remaster a game, you should give it a better value addition than your failed ‘dungeon builder’. Multiplayer would be cool, but puzzle Zelda is such an abomination that multiplayer wouldn’t work in Puzzle Zelda (cue emails demanding I play a multiplayer Zelda for all those ‘puzzles’ like the Gamecube one).

Link’s Awakening is game that can only be brilliant on its original platform: the Gameboy. When you take the game off that platform, the MASSIVE flaws and downright bullshit of the game sticks out and makes it ‘not fun’.

Nintendo fans are rabid Zelda fans. Why is Link’s Awakening not being talked about more? I’ll tell you why. It is because Link’s Awakening sucks ass! No one wants to diss the Zelda game, but the quietness speaks for itself. There is no one saying, “Can someone hold open the door? I just played a few hours of Link’s Awakening, and I gotta go out there to get some more of it!” They DO say that about Zelda: BoW “Wow!”. But with Link’s Awakening, the sentiment is going to be… “Is this… over yet?”

People who grew up with Link’s Awakening on Gameboy will probably find it the bee’s knees. Aside from its historical value, Link’s Awakening is a case in game design and execution that is best left in the past next to Ice Climbers and Balloon Fight.

Above: Watching this 100% walkthrough is more entertaining than playing the game. Look at all these stupid items everywhere. Do you want to play this, reader? Trust me, you don’t. There is a reason why this game has been met by the Switch audience with a giant snooze!


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