Review by MalachiX
"The Best Gameboy Game Around"
Link’s Awakening has long been considered one of the outcasts of the Zelda series. Like Zelda II and Majora’s Mask, it has a small band of supporters but is generally looked down upon by most Zelda fans because of its decidedly different style. Such an attitude is really a shame because Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a truly wonderful game and probably the best to ever grace the Gameboy.
Just as Majora’s Mask was a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening is direct sequel to A Link to the Past for the SNES. Also like Major’s mask, LA uses pretty much the same engine that it’s predecessor did but differs sharply from it by environment. LA differs from most chapters in the Zelda series in that it does not take place in Hyrule and Zelda or Ganon are no where to be found. It is for this reason that LA is so abhorred by many Zelda fans but the change of scenery actually helps the game quite a bit. After all, players had already explored Hyrule several times in 2D. It was time for a change and this new Island really adds some life to the series.
The game opens with Link at sea apparently some time after A Link to the Past. His small boat is suddenly swept up by a violent storm and Link is knocked unconscious. He washes up on the beach of a small island called Koholint. Link is told that the only way to get home is by waking the Windfish, some bizarre creature who lives in a giant egg. To do this he must collect eight different instruments and use them to play the Ballad of the Windfish. LA’s story is one of the better ones in the series. It’s Alice in Wonderland quality makes it distinctly different than the “save the princess” plotlines that most other chapters have had. Sure it’s not ultra complex as one would find in a Final Fantasy game but it has it’s own simple charm.
As I mentioned before, LA uses the Link to the Past engine and the two games play remarkable the same. As with all Zelda games, the main gameplay consists of exploring the vast over world and tackling the numerous dungeons. The over world isn’t quite as large as the one found in LttP but it’s still quite impressive with tons of mini quests just waiting to be found. The dungeons on the other hand actually manage to be more fun than those found in LttP. Maybe it’s just because there are less but they seem to have a greater variety to them. The game has most of the classic Zelda items but also introduces a few new ones such as the Roc Feather that gives Link the ability to jump. All in all, while it my not be quite as large as it’s big brother on the SNES, Link’s Awakening is a massive game in it’s own right.
Graphically, LA represents the pinnacle of what can be done on the GB. The backgrounds are detailed. The animation is smooth. And the characters look relatively good. Of course, if graphics were what you were concerned about, you wouldn’t be playing a GB game in the first place.
It’s the music where LA really shines. After all, in a game where the goal is to collect a variety of instruments, the music better be good. LA has what is probably my favorite soundtrack in the series. From the classic Zelda theme to the Ballad of the Windfish, every song is distinctive and catchy. Some manage to be quite moving as well and it’s hard to believe that such great music could come from the GB.
Replay Value: 9
Link’s Awakening is a masterpiece plane and simple. Like almost all Zelda games, the gameplay is nearly flawless and the presentation is some of the best around. It’s such a shame that so many fans allow themselves to miss out on this little gem just because of a little change in scenery.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/16/03, Updated 04/16/03
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