GB – #3 – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

History:

It’s funny how about half of my history entries for this system start with “Well I played the NES version…”. Never played Link’s Awakening, and for a while I actually thought this and Link to the Past were the same game!

Expectations:

I feel a bit of Zelda fatigue after playing through Oracle of Seasons, it feels like I JUST beat it the other day. At the same time, that’s the game that got me excited for other Zelda games moving forward. I think I’ll have a good time with this one.


Day 1:

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It’s not cheating if you’re shipwrecked on an island somewhere… and the girl looks just like you… and you might be dreaming…

I’d be lying if I said Oracle of Seasons didn’t spoil me, and I was honestly expecting to go into this game accepting of the fact that I’d be playing a technical downgrade of that game. While the graphics are obviously not as refined, everything else about the game holds up just as good if not better than Oracle! Specifically the menu system is much quicker to navigate, saving is faster and everything just feels good. My only real complaint so far is that the text uses a font that can be hard to read at times and every time I walk up to a rock/pot/whatever I’m immediately reminded that “It’s far too heavy to pick up with my bare hands!”

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Yes, that’s a Chain Chomp. No, I don’t know how either…

Link’s Awakening has invoked a feeling I don’t think any other game on this project has so far; after just a few steps through the village I immediately found myself thinking “Holy crap… what have I gotten myself into…” Yes, it’s Zelda, familiar, comfortable Zelda, but at the same time everything feels just a few degrees off. The lands are welcoming, yet claustrophobic. The people are happy, too happy. Just where the hell am I? I feel like I’m in the opening scenes of a Stephen King movie…

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I have an owl guide like from Ocarina of Time, and every time he shows up I can’t help but here the time from the N64 game. Not a complaint. After reclaiming my sword and shield I found myself in the Mysterious Woods which, according to the sign outside, are just a little mysterious. I spent little time getting lost here, and eventually had to save and call it for the night…

…I can’t wait to play again tomorrow!


Day 2:

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When I was younger, Ocarina of Time used to creep me the hell out with some of its dungeons. Finding things like this brings those feeling right back. Why is this room even here!? Am I missing something? Do I need to go buy that shovel?

In any case the first dungeon of the game served both as an easy introductory dungeon, as well as assurance that I was in for a good time. One of the things I kept telling myself after Oracle of Seasons was how hard it was going to be playing Link’s Awakening without the Roc Feather… Then I found the Roc Feather.

For that matter, everything that Oracle did that I thought was so innovative was actually taken straight from Link’s Awakening! The items, the trade system, dungeon designs, etc. I feel right at home here.

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One thing about this game compared to Oracle and the original is that the first couple bosses were definitely harder than I was used to for early fights. Nothing too demanding, but just enough that I was caught off guard.

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I’ve heard Link’s Awakening described as a Zelda fever dream… and I can absolutely see that… Yoshi sure is showing up in a lot of games these days… That doll is what starts the trade system in this game. Giving the doll to a woman’s baby earned me a ribbon, which I gave to a tiny Chain Chomp, natural… she gave me dog food…

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While I was busy winning stuffed dinosaurs, BowWow the Chain Chomp was busy getting… dognapped… by Moblins. After getting him back I took him through a walk in the swamp, where he granted me access to the second dungeon…

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…Shy Guy…

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…….

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The dungeon itself was pretty easy, with the highlight being my acquisition of the strength bracelet. The boss here involved me dodging his attacks until he retreated to his bottle, then throwing the bottle up against the wall… and possible some reawakened clown nightmares…

With that the second instrument was mine! Now to go replace the batteries in my Wave Bird…


Day 3:

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Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to knock out the third dungeon tonight. Instead I was running around taking care of heart-piece collecting, grabbing seashells, fishing for fish, and feeding alligators canned dog food.

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Also managed to piss off some bat monster who punished me with more inventory space.

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And I met some new people! Crazy Tracy, Will Write, and… camera mouse? Actually the camera is one of my new favorite things in this game. The pictures are pretty great!

Hopefully I can finish out two dungeons tomorrow to make up for tonight.


Day 4:

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After digging up the Slime Key it was off to the third dungeon! This place was a maze of Bob-Bombs and keys. The mini-boss here was a new kind of pain, having to lay bombs right in their path just hoping they wouldn’t picot at the last second… Other than that, despite appearing complicated at first, the dungeon was fairly straight forward.

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Eventually I’d pick up the Pegasus Boots, allowing me to charge forward. I definitely prefer the Pegasus Seeds in Oracle, since this game expects you to combine the boots with the feather for long jumps. Since you have to have both items equipped at once, that means no sword…

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The boss was a breeze, and actually pretty fun. After bashing into the wall to knock him off the ceiling you need to slash away at his eye to start splitting him in half. Once he’s been stretched out enough, charging through him will split him into two. At that point it’s just slashing and jumping and dodging.

At this point I think I’m going to take a short break from instrument collecting and go pick up all the seashells I’ve missed up until this point, should only be a few.


Day 5:

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I spent most of my night digging up seashells and exploring the island. I did finally stumble across the Seashell Shrine, and now only need eight more shells to get my sword! I’m going to go ahead and wait until I get the flippers from the next dungeon before I do though.

In trying to reach my desert destination I found myself in the Animal Village…

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Naturally the honey I found goes to a bear chef… My wife asked me where I got the honey, to which my response (eyes rolling) “Weren’t you paying attention? The woman in town wanted a Yoshi doll for her baby, so I won one from the local crane game. She gave me a Ribbon which I gave to a Chain Chomp who just wanted to look pretty, in exchange for a can of dog food. Naturally, the dog food went to a hungry alligator who then gave me some bananas. The bananas went to a band of carpenter monkeys who, as monkeys are wont to do, constructed a bridge for me to cross to get to where I was going. We all know that monkeys are notoriously negligent on the job, and they left behind a stick, which I took for myself. A villager, standing at the base of a bee hive, asked to borrow my stick. Of course I let him, and after he ran away screaming, chased by angry bees, I figured I’d grab the honeycomb… THAT’S where I got the honey!”

Anyway then I had to go find Maron so she could sing to a walrus…

150814-0637.mp4_snapshot_20.45_[2015.08.13_23.35.25]Daw…

With Maron in tow I was able to clear any unwanted mammals from my path and access the desert area. Turns out all I was after here was the key.

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The mini boss was too easy, and once I grabbed the key I was instructed by my owl guide to take it and jump off a waterfall.

*reads back over entire post*

…This game’s weird…

I saved back in Mabe Village, and before I hit up the next story dungeon I’ll probably go visit the special Color Dungeon to get a new tunic.


Day 6:

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The Color Dungeon was… Well it was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I honestly don’t know whether I’m disappointed or thankful for that, but either way I made it through the dungeon with very little difficulty.

150815-0559.mp4_snapshot_00.17.48_[2015.08.15_11.10.00]The next dungeon on the list was the Angler’s Tunnel, where I’d finally get my flippers! The dungeon was challenging enough without going overboard, but the boss was the easiest thing I’ve seen in the game so far…

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Swim down, slash slash slash slash win. Okay, so to be fair I lucked out with a sword power-up immediately before entering the boss lair but… still…

Once out, I could explore the entire map freely, for the most part.

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Which is good, since I apparently missed an item…

After walking around for a bit, searching for the last few seashells I needed, I came across a sad ghost looking for his home. The home was easy enough to find, I’d been there a few times, but after that he wanted to visit his grave, which for the life of me I couldn’t remember the location of. After wandering the map for what seemed like forever, I finally came across it, and was rewarded with a new picture!

150815-0559.mp4_snapshot_01.55.44_[2015.08.15_11.11.38] With Sad Ghost off my back, it was time to finish the shell hunt and get my new sword! Along the way I continued the trading game as well, which had me delivering a photo of Princess Peach to Will Wright… because… Zelda…

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My night ultimately ended with my new sword in hand! Four more instruments to gather…


Day 7:

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After just a minute of backtracking and grabbing my ocarina, I went straight back to the big fish from earlier who thoroughly entertained me with a mambo. Moments like these…

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I also finished up the trading sequence, culminating in me getting the Boomerang. I actually thought it was a bit strange that such an iconic item was buried beneath such a huge “optional” activity, but it was nice to finally have it. That led me to the game’s fifth dungeon, Catfish’s Maw.

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This was actually a pretty fun dungeon, with a fun recurring miniboss and an awesome item reward in the Hook Shot! It was also here that I realized I could actually jump on the Gommba enemies, complete with sound effect, and get hearts from them.

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As enjoyable as the dungeon itself was, the boss was just horrible… While avoiding the whirling tail in the middle I had to grab his head with the Hook Shot and attack his neck. Where his head appeared was random, as was whether or not I’d actually get to attack him. Sometimes his whole body would come out of the wall and attack. Bad RNG had me attempted this boss a second time before finally beating him.

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A bit of post-dungeon exploring, new Hook Shot in hand, led me to… this guy… For some reason I felt compelled to throw turnips at him…

In search of the next dungeon, I came across a shrine that shed some light on the nature of the island. It’s actually a pretty crappy situation, as it turns out the entire island, and all its inhabitants, are a dream of the sleeping Wind Fish, who I’m trying to wake. My only way off the island is to wake the Wind Fish, but then everyone will disappear. Inversely, if I stay on the island and let the fish sleep, the monsters will eventually rise to power and take over the entire island…

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The next dungeon was the aptly named Face Dungeon, which was rather uneventful. The boss was fun though, I always like fighting this guy.

With two dungeons to go I decided to take a short break before finally finishing out the game!

Later…

Time to wrap this thing up!

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After reviving a dead rooster and using him to fly around the mountains (what am I doing with my life?) it was time to visit the Eagle’s Tower. The dungeon itself was fairly challenging, involving multiple levels, switch mechanics, and multi-room puzzles.

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The boss was a lot of fun, even though I’m pretty sure I fought this guy in Mega Man X…

I was again informed of the island’s fate should I wake the Wind Fish, and to be honest it was putting a serious damper on my game. Everything leading up to this point had me meeting these new people, building relationships and exploring a world that was nothing if not alive and full of personality.

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It didn’t help that every run in with Maron just hammered that home further, and always at the worst time. My journey to the final dungeon felt like a death march…

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The last dungeon itself was massive, containing just about every mini boss in the game including the arrival of… uh… boxer guy… who I first met in Oracle of Seasons. That was cool! After getting lost for what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it to the dungeon boss, who was incredible easy to beat.

With all eight instruments in hand I couldn’t decide whether to visit the sleeping Wind Fish, or just turn the game off for good… I’d come this far, no point quitting now. The Wind Fish’s egg turned out to be a mini dungeon of its own with a short Lost Woods style maze followed by the final encounter with the Nightmare.

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This boss was a ton of fun! He had several different forms, each requiring me to use a different item to damage. One in particular had me swinging my sword to bounce magic attacks back at him!

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His final form was fairly easy, with two arms swinging around that I had to avoid while shooting arrows into his eye.

With the Nightmare defeated, and the Wind Fish awake, I caught one last glimpse of the island and its inhabitants until, in a flash, they were all gone.

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Conclusion:

Where do I even begin?

First off, yes, I thought this game was amazing. Fantastic. On the technical side alone this game was incredible. Gameboy owners in 1993 must have lost their minds to have this kind of experience on their handhelds. The Gameboy Color version makes it that much better, but even if we take away the color Link’s Awakening is an incredible looking game. The music and sounds are, needless to say, wonderful, and the whole Zelda “feel” is captured perfectly.

It’s almost not even worth mentioning all that tough. For it to be anything less would be a major issue, but Link’s Awakening lives up to its pedigree with ease. The real talking point here is the story and atmosphere.

I felt like CRAP after I beat this game, and for most of the tail end of it. The whole island is bright whimsy juxtaposed over depressing, unrelenting darkness. Every laugh the game elicited, and there were many, only served to emphasize that all the joy I was experiencing was destined to be erased forever.

Even the attachment is called into question. If everything in this world exist in the Wind Fish’s dream, were they ever real to begin with? Were they just projections of various traits of the Wind Fish itself? Doesn’t the fact that I was able to go there myself make it all real? Whether it was real or not, it all happened, and Link makes that clear in the game’s ending. I believe Link, and myself, will always remember Koholint Island and the people we met there…

…if only in our dreams…

Liked:

– Zelda Standard of music, graphics and gameplay for the time.
– The story was incredible and impactful, and will stick with me for a long time.
– A game of this quality on the Gameboy must have blown minds 22 years ago!
– For a portable game, the length felt just right. I beat it in just about 11 hours.
– The Mario reference served to set the games slightly bizarre tone, and were a lot of fun.

Disliked:

– I’m so freaking depressed right now!

Legend of Zelda Links Awakening

3 comments on “GB – #3 – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

  1. Pingback: Playthrough Analysis – 146 Games | 600 Games

  2. Seems like newer titles are reaching back to the originals for their vastness and “slightly bizarre tone”, which just proves how timeless Zelda’s world is.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Playthrough Analysis – 193 Games | 600 Games

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