The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening - First Impressions (Nintendo Switch)

Link's Awakening is a game I've never played, I'd never had any interest in it, and the only exposure I had was the DLC pack that came to Hyrule Warriors. When the game was first announced, the visuals just had me hooked, and like many people coming off the Breath of the Wild hype train, I was thirsty for more Zelda.

In Link's Awakening, you start the game ship wrecked on Koholint Island, greeted by Marin and Tarin, until an owl then tells you the only way to get off the island is to awaken the great Wind Fish by playing 8 instruments that can be found within the dungeons scattered across the island, and thus, your journey begins.

As mentioned previously, I've never really been interested in Link's Awakening, or old school Zelda titles for that matter. The mechanics are just too clunky and I simply can't get into them. An issue that was apparently in the original game was constantly switching between items due to the lack of buttons on the GameBoy. We never experienced this issue as we've never played the original, but the many buttons on the Switch further bring this classic Zelda title up to scratch, allowing easy use to traverse Koholint Island. This update in mechanics seems to come to every game that gets remade, and I can say I'm very happy the developers opt to improve them.

You may think it's strange going back to traditional Zelda gameplay after Breath of the Wild, but the updates to this 25+ years old title really make it feel fresh. At first, I did find it a little odd that you were restricted to grid movements to begin with, but after the first 10 or so minutes of playing, it seemed natural. The same goes for the blur at the top and bottom of the screen from the tilt shift camera. At first, this is annoying, but you stop taking notice of it the more you play, and it really makes the world pop. Even though the world is small, there are many places to explore and secrets to uncover, I often found myself side tracked when going between objectives.

If you ever find yourself stuck (like I did multiple times) you can visit the phone houses located in various places around the map to get vague hints on where to go next. The Owl you meet at the start of the game will also meet you at certain points and tell you where to head next. Getting lost and stuck in a Zelda game is inevitable, but these subtly help you progress without blatantly blurting out the answers.

The map in Breath of the Wold was very helpful, and here's no different. It has nowhere near as much detail, but it's easily accessible to help you traverse the island. You can mark stamps on your map for places of interest, which really help with back tracking for heart pieces and other useful items.

As mentioned in our Spyro review for the Switch, I barely notice frame rate issues in games. A lot of reviews for Link's Awakening seem to mention frame rate issues when loading between areas, but I can say to the untrained eye, it's not something I've picked up on.

Classic Zelda items like the bombs and bow and arrow can be purchased at the shop for a hefty price, and whilst they're not detrimental in the gameplay, we found picking them up as early as possible certainly helped out immensely. Going into this game blind, I was happy to spend a large sum of rupees on the Bow and Arrow as soon as I saw I could buy it, and even happier when I reaped the benefits almost immediately.

The only new content in this game is Dampe's Shack, which apparently replaces the Photo Booth? When this was first revealed, a lot of people saw it as a Zelda meets Mario Maker. Though that's not the case. There's nowhere near as much freedom as you'd expect, and you simply have to create a path under Dampe's conditions using dungeon rooms you've already played through. The only way to actually share these dungeons with others is via the Link's Awakening amiibo. It would have been way cooler if they integrated the Nintendo Switch Online App, or gave each dungeon it's own unique code that you could share for others to play through. It's nothing groundbreaking but it's a nifty little addition that's fun to play around with and see what you can create, I also found it decent for farming rupees

As of this post, I've only completed the first four dungeons, but so far we're liking what we're seeing. It's a game full of charm and we can't wait to complete it! Never been a fan of 2D Zelda's but this remake has certainly changed my mind


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