The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Game Boy) Second Opinion Review

By Athanasios 05.03.2016

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Link

Game Boy: a humble battery-muncher that managed to be one of the best handheld systems of all time, despite its somewhat unimpressive technical prowess. It had a serious issue, though. Many of its titles were shoddy copies of the "real deal," which comes as no surprise, since porting something from an 8-bit/16-bit platform required decreasing the overall quality of a game; gameplay, as well as audio-visuals. Luckily, the same didn't happen with one of Nintendo's flagship franchises, with The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening being only a few tiny steps far from the top-notch quality of its more popular siblings.

Like all the great old-school Zelda titles, what this lacks in plot (despite the existence of a few pleasant surprises), it gains in starting with a dramatic entrance that manages to create a strong connection with that special corner of every gamer's heart; the corner that loves a good fairytale. The Legend of Zelda intro? Simple, yet iconic. A Spartan scene with a waterfall accompanied by the most epic theme ever, and then it all fades to black. A Link to the Past? The pieces of the Triforce unify, the Master Sword does its thing, and the introductory cut-scene begins. Link's Awakening's answer to all this? Something less epic, yet equally as intense: lightning strikes on the horizon, the ocean is furious, and at the very centre of it all, the hero, Link, is trying to grab on to his shoddy raft… and thus begins his very first portable legend.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Game Boy

Upon opening his eyes, Link meets a girl who looks somewhat familiar, and soon learns that in order to escape from the strange island of Koholint, he must awake the Wind Fish - something that requires locating various dungeons to gather the needed key items, which, in turn, translates to lots of fighting and puzzle-solving. Needless to say that this doesn't reinvent the wheel, and just takes most of the good stuff from previous games, and combines them into a nice bundle of action-adventure fun.

Half of the action takes place in the overworld, and, to be honest, this section can get a bit boring, especially when compared to the land of Hyrule. Sure, there are still people to talk to, secrets to find, and enemies to slash, but it feels somewhat bland. There's no real feeling of wonder - something that could be attributed to the overall boring design, with most locations having that generic look of the Pokémon series. That isn't to say that the graphics are bad, however. In fact, they are amongst the best that one could find on the Game Boy, just not as good as expected. Same thing with the soundtrack: an overabundance of great tunes, but weak in comparison with the rest in the series.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Game Boy

The biggest disappointment when it comes to the overworld, though, is that many of the things that must be done here are blatant and extremely boring fetch quests, which feel totally out of place in a title that has always been about exploration, exploration, and more exploration. Find mushroom, exchange it with a stick, trade it for… something else, and then use that something to get the key item that was required all along. Fun? Not really…

Thankfully, this won't really take much time, which means that Link will soon get to try his luck at a dungeon; the place where the real fun is at. There are only eight of them available, yet they are so freaking good, that it wouldn't matter if there were 80 - that good! Note, however, that, while decent fighting skills are required here, this is mostly a task for the brain, since each of these wonderful labyrinths is filled with all sorts of puzzles that need to be solved.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Game Boy

Similar to A Link to the Past, the concept is fairly simple. Explore, find the unique weapon/gadget that is stored in the dungeon, find the boss key, and proceed to the monster's hiding place. The actual process of it all is very entertaining, with no level ever becoming boring, and with the epic confrontation awaiting in the end being nothing sort of exciting, since they are all true to the spirit of The Legend of Zelda franchise, by requiring a perfect balance between brains and Hylian brawn.

Sure, the adventure is relatively short compared with the rest, the replay value is not as great as in gems like Ocarina of Time can provide, and, as a whole, Link's Awakening doesn't really bring anything new to the scene, but it's an enjoyable ride nonetheless; a ride that should definitely not be forgotten. In other words: it's *wink-wink to the ones who know* a dream!

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Game Boy

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Nintendo didn't just take the easy route when it created The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (something that it did with Metroid II: Return of Samus). Instead of a measly sample of what the franchise is all about, this actually feels quite similar to its older SNES cousin. It has a few flaws (and most of them can be found in the inferior overworld section), but, being the true Zelda game that it is, exploring, dungeon crawling, and monster killing feels as great as it ever was.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (15 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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