When I was a kid, my Game Boy meant so much to me. Sure, I had a Super Nintendo at the time which was way more powerful. But I was a child who spent his time split between two households. The Game Boy meant that I could start a game at one house, and continue it at another. Given that video games were my biggest hobby, having the ability to keep one system with me gave me a lot of comfort. And one of the most shining examples of this kind of comfort was the first portable Zelda outing, Link's Awakening.
A Link To The Past has remained my favorite Zelda game throughout the years. And while Breath Of The Wild gives it a run for its money (and probably surpasses it if I'm to be honest), if we're going by pure nostalgia, then you can't beat LTTP. But man, Link's Awakening came close back then. If for no other reason than it was a game of LTTP's caliber but on a portable system. It was mind blowing back then. It still kind of is now.
When the Switch remake of Link's Awakening was revealed earlier this year as part of Nintendo Direct, I exclaimed loudly and probably not using real words. My wife said she had never seen me so excited about a single video game. This is saying a lot. We've been together for fifteen years now. She's seen me get excited about a lot of video games.
Yet, when the game was finally released a couple of months ago I couldn't quite pull the trigger. We have a six month old daughter in the house. My hobby time isn't what it used to be. And I can find better ways to spend $60 right now. I just kept thinking that while I'd like to play this remake, I could always just download the original GB version on my 3DS for $6. So it was a hard sell. Even for a super fan.
Well, yesterday morning I found Link's Awakening under the Christmas tree. I guess Santa thought I was good this year. I was happy to jump back into this game.
Let me start by saying that this remake might be one of the prettiest games I have ever seen. Seriously. Ever. It's just gorgeous. It reminds me a bit of 3D Dot Game Heroes, a PS3 game that was so obviously inspired by Zelda games. But it's not blocky or anything. Instead it looks like everything is a little toy. It's like if Amiibos came to life and re-enacting a classic Zelda adventure. It's just so charmingly lovely.
The thing that makes Link's Awakening such a fan favorite is that it's friggin' weird. And I love that. The same way that Zelda II is kind of a black sheep, this one has a lot of odd stuff going on. Like the Mario references. My wife looked over my shoulder at one point and asked why a Chain Chomper was in a Zelda game. And I mean, I don't want to spoil anything but you probably know why.
At any rate, I'm currently in the third dungeon which is gigantic. I had forgotten. I think the last time I played this game was maybe back upon its release. I'd play it at my mom's house on the Game Boy proper, probably listening to music or the TV, and I'd play it at my dad's house on the Super Game Boy on SNES. In a weird way, I was getting the Switch experience back then. Huh.
The great thing about this remake is the quality of life improvements. Granted, it's weird that the dpad can't be used for movement. I don't get that. But things like not having to equip the feather to jump or the bracelet to pick up rocks - that's huge. I revisited Oracle of Seasons not that long ago and found the item swapping to be such a chore.
Anyway, I'm not done with this one yet. I've only just started. But dammit, I'm blown away by this remake. It is just fantastic.
Link's Awakening has been a great game to play over the holidays. It's a perfect blend of nostalgia and newness. And to be honest, I'm glad I did finally play the remake instead of just revisiting the original. This new version really does some solid upgrades to the game that make it a much better experience. That's saying a lot. Nintendo has managed to make a great game even better somehow.
It's not perfect. There are a couple of weird decisions here. I mentioned the lack of d-pad support for instance. There's also the fact that you can only bind items to the X and Y buttons. Why? Why not just let me pick ANY buttons? If I want to use A to jump and Y to swing my sword, why can't I do that?
These little things are sort of baffling. But they never ruin the experience. This remake is beyond charming. It's one of the cutest games I've ever seen. And I'm loving every minute of this adventure.
I'm pretty far into the game already. Currently, I'm making my way through the Face Shrine. I've picked up the boomerang, bow and arrow, and hookshot. Oh, and I just got the upgraded power bracelet. Good stuff.
AND I managed to beat the game on New Year's Eve. What a pleasant way to end the year. Link's Awakening is an incredible remake. And despite the few small nitpicks I had with some of the controls or UI stuff, I really think it's an example of how to do a classic remake right. This is a fine addition to the Zelda series - and one that does seem worth playing over the original.