Nearly 26 years after its initial release on the Nintendo Gameboy, “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” has come back in a new and exciting way on Nintendo’s newest hybrid handheld and home console system. Abandoning it’s old-school pixel appearance for a new handcrafted feel-good style, the new remake offers much more than just a fresh coat of paint on the beloved original game.

Departing from the usual conventions of “The Legend of Zelda” series, Link finds himself far from Hyrule as he washes ashore onto Koholint Island during a dangerous storm. After waking up with island native Marin by his side, Link embarks on a quest to collect the eight different musical instruments scattered across the island in order to wake the Wind Fish and return back home. 

A much more laidback and accessible journey opposed to other games in the franchise, “Link’s Awakening” acts as the perfect starting point for people who are interested in playing “The Legend of Zelda” series but don’t know where to begin. Although the size of the game can be a little jarring at first after playing the most recent and content-heavy game in the franchise, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore on Koholint Island that keep the journey going for around 10-15 hours.

Instead of focusing solely on new content and an expanded world to explore, “Link’s Awakening” rather respectfully pays homage to the original game and adds subtle new features along the way to enhance the experience and bring it up to modern standards. At the forefront of these changes is the new soundtrack, which perfectly mixes a balance of digital and fully orchestrated tracks to complement the beautiful sights and inhabitants of the island. Other new features include improved inventory management, parrying, and the removal of segmented screens, making the game itself and Koholint Island feel like one seamless experience.  

Amidst its sharp visuals and nostalgia-evoking charm, “Link’s Awakening” does unfortunately have a few notable shortcomings. Often times the frame rate will take a noticeable dip in busier areas of the game both in handheld mode and when docked on the TV, taking away from some of the immersion and seamlessness of the game. Also the biggest new addition to “Link’s Awakening”, “Chamber Dungeons” (where players can design their own sets of dungeons), is a clever and interesting idea with an underwhelming execution. The lack of an option to share these creations online and instead have them locked behind “amiibo” figures (physical toy figurines) is baffling considering that Nintendo is now charging people for online access on the Nintendo Switch. 

“Link’s Awakening” is a charming, nostalgic and enjoyable journey that successfully captures the feel of the original game in a new modern style. While “Link’s Awakening” may not be as ambitious or expansive as other entries in the franchise, it is the most ideal opportunity for players both familiar and unfamiliar with the original game to make the trip to Koholint Island and back into “The Legend of Zelda” series. 


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