With the release of the Switch remake for Zelda: Link’s Awakening looming, it’s worth talking about how amazing this game is before my review goes up.
Before I start, it’s worth clarifying that the original Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy is my favorite Zelda game of all-time. It’s wonderfully lean and focused, distilling much of what made all the prior 2D Zelda games so good.
So, for me, this remake has a very high standard to meet but I am happy to say that it surpasses it by quite a margin.
As of writing, I have finished the game and unlocked absolutely everything. From all the hearts to all the Secret Seashells, of which there are many more of both now.
I won’t be going into any of the end game content here, but I will cover how this new remake plays and what has changed over the Game Boy original.
Firstly, the setup where you only have two items that can be used at any one time has been mostly dropped. Instead, you have a bunch of items that are always equipped, with a few additional ones that can be mapped to the X or Y buttons.
The biggest change here is that you almost always have your sword and shield equipped, which in turn has had an impact on the combat.
To explain, previously the enemies with their own sword and shield could be killed via correct position of a circle slash.
Now though, you have to parry their attack with your shield and then counter. It’s a simple change but it makes the combat more involved and rationalizes the new setup for your sword and shield.
The combat and movement also feel a bit more analog now somehow and while you still have the digital control of Link in terms of the direction he faces, the movement is more nuanced and important to correct positioning in combat.
Put simply, this version of Link’s Awakening feels like it has merged some of the setup from A Link to the Past and it actually works out really well. While I am normally one for sticking to how these games originally played, especially with something like Link’s Awakening, I think the decisions that have been made here make a great deal of sense on a console like the Switch.
This also feeds into the fact that unlike the GameBoy game that had distinct screens you moved between; the game world is more contiguous now.
The music is also incredibly good but some of the dungeons have changed the music around somewhat, though the musical Easter Eggs for Totaka’s song and the funky Zelda riff are still very much present and correct (shown above), with the latter including a jazzy trumpet solo.
I have also played all the way through Dampé’s challenges and while I think this was a nice idea in principle, I didn’t enjoy this part of the game as much as I thought I would.
I will be honest, I wasn’t expecting a remake of Link’s Awakening to be this good. I knew this would be a fun nostalgia trip but it has turned out to be something that really builds on many classic 2D Zelda games and the result is genuinely amazing.
My review will be up later in the week, so keep an eye out for that, but in the meantime I am going back to Koholint Island to triple-check I haven’t missed anything.
Read my Forbes blog here.