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

By Rob 15.03.2006 18

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Link

When someone says 'The Legend of Zelda' to you, what do you immediately think of? The legendary 'Ocarina of Time' for the Nintendo 64? What about 'The Wind Waker'? Maybe that moment in Majora's Mask when Epona was nicked right at the start? But hold on just a moment. Even with top 3D games, most successful Nintendo games have some little brothers on the GameBoy. Yep, Zelda has that in the 'Oracle' games. But what came before that? Link's Awakening is often forgotten when Zelda games are being listed, but does it really deserve to be?

Well, being a Zelda game, don't read on expecting to find out about the best retro puzzler on the market. Well all know that Zelda is an adventure/RPG, and Link's Awakening makes no exception at all. Right from the start you know it's going to be adventuring galore. Link is on a ship back home to Hyrule after a bit of exploring, but he gets caught up in a storm, and the vessel gets struck by lightning. The ship is blown to pieces, killing all the crew apart from Link, who is washed up on some place with the name of Koholint Island. There, a young lady named Marin finds him unconscious on the beach, and takes him back to her house in Mabe Village. When he recovers, he learns that due to the tide, it is impossible to leave the island. So, boys being boys, he goes off to the beach to look for his sword and try and escape. The young lady was right, and he does not prevail. Then mysteriously, an owl flies down to explain something vital to Link. Without waking the legendary Wind Fish, there is no chance of him ever going back to Hyrule. So, his adventure really begins there, to climb the mountain where the Wind Fish's egg is and wake him up. Did nobody tell him that waking things up while they were sleeping was rude?

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

For an early GameBoy game, the graphics are brilliant, and the detail is great. Every character moves in their own little way, weather it be throwing a ball, or being in a panic because the town mutt has been dognapped. Even the leaves and grass blow when you swirl your sword near them. Remembering that this was one of the GameBoy's earlier games, it is great detail by Nintendo, even if it doesn't mean much. The graphics are pretty hot too; you'll see when you manage to get to the seventh dungeon, Eagle's Tower. The graphic style is very close to the one seen in the two Oracle games, just without colour (unless playing on a GBC or GBA). Minish Cap's graphics are superior to it, but that is over a generation later. In fact, the graphical style of Link's Awakening, is Pokemon-esque, just slightly improved.

The sound is again very much like those tunes heard in Pokemon. Simple little ditties are the type of music seen in both games, and both sound very alike. For instance, in Link's Awakening, when Link is mooching around in Mabe Village, a very light, innocent tune plays in the background, much like when Ash was in Pallet Town in Pokemon Red/Blue. When Link ventures to the Mysterious Woods, the music suddenly gets more sinister, much like when our favourite Pokemon Trainer infiltrated the base of Team Rocket. It's very similar, and you'll find yourself whistling along to the tunes as you play the game. The traditional Zelda tunes are still in there, such as opening a chest. Hardcore Zelda fans will be right at home here.

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

Like most Zelda games, the Main menu screen isn't detailed, nor do they have too many options. Obviously Nintendo concentrate more on the actual game... Once Link's Awakening is in your Game Boy, you'll be greeted with a small introduction movie with Link's ship being struck by lightening and him being found by Marin. Quite a nice little movie really, and the music adds to it. Then you have the usual stuff on the Main Screen, three files (why does OoT only have two?), and the option to copy or erase. It has a nice little ditty in the background, but name a file 'ZELDA' to get a better one...

Again, like most Zelda games, the Gameplay is exactly what you would expect, top-notch stuff. The aim of the game is to beat the 'Nightmares' inside the Wind Fish's egg, so that you can leave the island and get back to Hyrule. Of course, if you just to go straight up to the mountain where the egg was (love that Zelda freedom...) and beat the Nightmares, it would be very boring, so you need travel around the eight dungeons acquiring new weapons and items, learning more information and obtaining musical instruments to crack the egg open. Sounding familiar? The boss battles are also as great as ever, all very different in technique and personality. For example, one boss you will instantly recognise as the giant worm you have to slice the tail off, another is a giant blob of goo with one eye, and you will fight a huge fish in the depths of the lake. The Gameplay hasn't changed much from the other Zelda games, and it has certainly paid off.

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

Every decent game has side-quests to keep the player occupied for longer and make them go for 100%, and Zelda is no exception. Remember in Ocarina of Time where you had to keep going through processes to get the Biggoron Sword and the Lens of Truth? Well, processes much like these ones appear in Link's Awakening. If you manage to get hold of a Yoshi Doll (yes, that is the Yoshi of Super Mario fame), you're on your way to completing a vital part of the game. It is also possible to trade items to work to your advantage, and weapons such as the legendary boomerang can only be obtained through trading in the world of Zelda. And then there's the usual again, getting all the heart containers, all the bottles...there is loads to do in this game. And if you own the DX version, there is even more to do with an extra dungeon and the ability to take pictures with the underrated Game Boy Camera. Do Nintendo love us, or do Nintendo love us?

Like most Zelda games, Link's Awakening is truly a pleasure to play through. Unfortunately, it is also one of, if not the most, underrated games in the series. However, it really is a gem which is well worthy of a place in your Game Boy games collection. With a great storyline, cute little graphics, amazing bosses, loads of weapons, new characters to meet and so much to do, you really don't have an excuse to pick it up if you see it. As it's so old now it'll be in the shops for a very low price making this game irresistible. If you can't find it in the shops anywhere, try the internet, for you really must play this game. Even if you aren't a big fan of Zelda, I guarantee you will find this game enjoyable. And if you are a Zelda fan like so many people are, I can't find words that describe the feeling you get from playing the games. An absolute must-buy.

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

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Sadly the forgotten one in the ever-popular series. But it really shouldn't be, for it is Nintendo at its very best, and you would be silly to miss it. It has everything a game should have in it, and it is portable. Possibly the most overlooked and forgotten game ever, Link's Awakening is a real gem.






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   


I flipping loved this game and was the first 2d zelda game I was old enough to appreciate.

This was actually the first Zelda game (and first real adventure game) I ever it during summer holidays around the time when it came out, and was hooked - was holed up in my room for a week, playing it from morning till night, stopping only for food and the call of nature...I remember exploring every nook and cranny, shovelling every inch of land looking for sea shells and heart pieces (found them all on my first play through)...also remember that at the end of every days play, I could barely see anything - blurry vision coz of the eye strain...ah, those were the days! A fantastic game, with a great story, wicked puzzles and really cool cutscenes...its up there as one of amy all time faves on any system...

My favourite ever Zelda was a toss-up between this and Zelda III. Then Flagship started making amazing Zelda games and suddenly the two Oracle GBC games and Minish Cap shot up there as well. I love my Zelda games! :-D

Bloody brilliant...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Got it on my PC.

Ah it was great, but not 'Link to the Past' great. This sits in fourth place on the Zelda Ladder for me, right after Zelda III, Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask.

But who can complain? I've never played a bad Zelda. I never had a Philips CDi, hehe.

Great game, my first Zelda game too.

Guest 15.03.2006#7

Oh yes, one of the greatest Zelda games ever made, enjoyed this game so very much!

Rob, why do you give Graphics a 9 and then write 'we've seen much, much worse'? Surely it would be more logical to say "among the greatest graphics on the system"?

Didn't know that about the speed run, but the dungeons are so great. I loved that boss battle with the clowny ghost in a bottle...or did he throw bottles? Anyway, the first or second boss battle it was. Can't remember much of the rest though, need to play this again!:D

Did you play the DX version with the extra GBC-only dungeon? I only ever played the original...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
Guest 15.03.2006#9

Yep, same here. Played the original, my brother got it when it was released in Europe. I'm remembering the music from the lost woods now...and from Mabe Village, and from the mountain area! It's all coming back to me now! :D

You can't give it 8 for sound! More like 11 you crazy fool!

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

Shows how different people's opinions are of different aspects :Smilie

And tut tut Grumbler, your scream of rage/pain as screwed up the page in Internet Explorer! :roll: :tongue:

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I have this game- it's great! :-D.

Weird how it has characters from Mario in though (please DON'T let that put anyone off though!)

Sorry jesus, but LA has great GB music. All game music goes dumby-dum and doopy-doo in an ideal blue-sky world. :Smilie

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

i love this game far too much, completed it 5 times. Its my favourite 2d zelda game and thanks to you lot im gonna play it through again but this time on my gameboy player, huzzah!

-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?

o/o. This game is excellent.

'All game music goes dumby-dum and doopy-doo in an ideal blue-sky world.'

:lol: That made me laugh so much :-D 'Tis indeed great music!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Great Zelda title. I have fond memories of this one, It was a good companion to me as a youngster on a particular holiday, I was going to see family in Italy via Heathrow, I had my GB and Tetris, brand new, the local game store (SoftSpot) was outta Links Awakening, there I was minus my killer app, but almost miraculously, there it was, 1 copy in the store at the airport! Life saver! One for the Grand kids, that!

There's just one thing I can't get: (quote) Sound
Traditional Zelda sounds are included in the game, along with some completely new ones. The music in towns and cities actually resembles those in the original Pokemon games... (quote end)

In that case, the Pok


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