Review by AlderDryad
"Undoubtedly my favorite title for the Game Boy."
-- Introduction --
Zelda has finally made its way to the Game Boy, and did amazingly well. Just like the original, you are given a top-down perspective of the game, controlling Link from dungeon to dungeon to eventually collect all of the items and complete the game. This was the first game in the series to allow you to un-equip your sword to replace it with another item, allowing for more weapon possibilities. This game was undoubtedly an amazing game not just compared to previous Zelda titles, but also compared to all other games for the Game Boy. When I think of this game, nothing bad comes to mind - only good memories of playing this game for months as a child. All aspects of this game are almost equal, and for the most part, this is one of my favorite portable games of all time.
-- Gameplay -- 10/10
The gameplay of Link's Awakening is just as intuitive as it's predecessors. From the beginning, it's not hard to figure out what to do or where to go. Through the entire game, you'll be going from one dungeon to the next, fighting your way through a large variety of unique enemies, figuring out puzzles to get to the end of each dungeon where you'll fight a boss to obtain the item at the end of that dungeon.
The concept is very much like the original Legend of Zelda, but this one follows a stricter storyline. Hidden in each dungeon is a different item, just like in any other Zelda game. The difference however, is that you usually need that item to get to the next section of the world, such as requiring the power bracelet to move a rock to get to another town, or needing the flippers to swim across a river or access a hidden underwater tunnel. In between dungeons, there are side quests to complete such as collecting other items, learning new things and obtaining required items to get to the next dungeon. Each dungeon also requires a key to open the dungeon, and you must find it beforehand.
The world in Link's Awakening is very open-ended, with 256 individual screens to see, not including the 300+ dungeon screens in the game. There are a few towns to explore, but most of the overworld is people-less, just enemies and caves to explore. The land changes from place to place as well. You have your water themed places, desert, beach, mountain, forest, swamp, etc. There is a lot to uncover in Link's Awakening.
-- Graphics -- 10/10
Not much to talk about here. The graphics in Link's Awakening for the Original Game Boy are fine. Much better than most games, actually.
-- Controls -- 10/10
I have nothing bad to say about the controls. It's a bit confusing to rate controls when they are as simple as directional pad and A and B. There is nothing bad about the controls though, in fact the simplicity is a great thing. Whether you've played a Zelda game or not, the controls are simple and anyone can pick them up within a minute. There are no combonational moves like in some fighting games. It's always very straightforward and obvious which button does what.
-- Music -- 10/10
If I could give this a higher rating, I would. This game, not only being focused on music, also has very good tunes in itself. In the game, at the end of each dungeon you receive a different instrument. With each instrument, you complete more and more of the final song which is needed to wake the sleeping "Wind Fish" and fight the final boss to complete the game. Many places in the overworld have different tunes, so you're not always hearing the same theme no matter your location. Also, each dungeon has different music - making them less boring than they could have been.
-- Story -- 10/10
Some people don't like this story because of the ending (I won't give away the spoiler), but I loved it. Now, playing through the game again, it seems blatantly obvious what it's leaning towards. However, as a child, I had no clue on the storyline twist, and it totally took me by surprise. I really enjoyed the storyline, and it seems the developers cared about it as well. Some games are fun to play, but lack background information, so you don't really understand what the goal is entirely. Some games on the other hand, go into great detail in the storyline and background information to the point where you're being told things that don't matter. It's even worse when things like controls and gameplay are taken away or held back, not used to their full potential, because they wanted to make the storyline perfect. This game won't bore you with background information, but rather imbeds it in with the game. You learn more as you go along, and nothing is pushed on you.
-- Replay Value -- 7/10
There's not much to do after beating the game, but since you can beat Link's Awakening without collecting everything, there may still be a lot of things you missed your first time around. There are many heart pieces to collect to max out your life gauge, and several side quests in the game. If you are playing the Deluxe version if this game, I'd rate it an 8/10 - there is an extra dungeon to play, along with a camera shop where you can see and print pictures that have been taken throughout your adventure. Aside from those, several things can be upgraded, but after you've completed the game 100%, theres really nothing left to do besides start another game, and try to do the same without dying once.
-- Challenge -- 6/10
Link's Awakening is a good, fun, challenging game. I played it, and beat it without help, at the age of 7. It took me a month or so, but eventually I completed it. The puzzles took me longer, boss battles seemed to be much more challenging, but eventually I succeeded. Now that I'm older, looking back at I can see it's easier than I first assumed. Puzzles aren't as challenging, boss battles are a bit simpler, and things seem to come to me easier. Playing through any Zelda game now, I can beat it without a guide for the most part. For a young player, this is the perfect game, but if you're a veteran of the series who has never played this game, it shouldn't be very puzzling. The Deluxe version of this game is undoubtedly harder, since it has a bit more to do. Several new enemies, new side quests, and a final puzzle which takes place through the entire game, ending with an even harder boss battle than before.
-- Overall -- 10/10
Link's Awakening, like any Zelda game, has stood the test of time. Now, over a decade later, it is still being played, bought, and enjoyed around the world. Having being the first handheld Zelda game, it definitely did an outstanding job. Some handheld games weren't as good as their brothers on the consoles, but even though Link's Awakening was on the Game Boy, it didn't take away from the Zelda experience.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/08
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (US, 08/31/93)
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