Review by Kaas
"Link's Awakening; My favorite Zelda game."
The Legend of Zelda series always has been extremely popular; by players and reviewers worldwide. This game is no exception. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is the first and only Zelda (I'm not counting the Oracles series as they're for the GameBoy Colour) to hit the original GameBoy. Appearing only a year after the SNES classic LoZ: a Link to the Past, it is obvious this game was destined to be a success. Not only because it came out in good period, where people were hungry for more adventure from our little guy, but also because it takes a lot after LoZ:LttP. And what a success it was. I'll tell you a bit more about it in the following paragraphs.
I'll start with the most important part of a game: the gameplay. As this game is for the GameBoy, there isn't much room for complex controls. With that said, this game manages to do just great in that area. The control you have over Link is very good; you can direct him through a maze of monsters with a few gestures of your hand (well, after some practise of course). The controls are easy to learn and the items are easy to use. You can assign any item you have to the A or B button, then use it by pressing said button. The only flaw here is that you can get a bit bored by switching the items, which you'll need to do pretty often (especially later on in the game, when you have and need a lot of items).
The Legend of Zelda isn't about difficulty. It never has been and probably never will be. With the exception of Legend of Zelda and LoZ: Adventures of Link (both on the NES), every Zelda game has been relatively easy. The same goes for this game. From the beginning of the game you will have three hearts (life-energy), but it is very easy to find a lot more hearts. It is certainly not impossible to finish this game without dying once. Enemies aren't hard to kill, nor overwhelming in numbers. The bosses of this game are very cool, but not hard to defeat (with the possible exception of the final boss).
Every review of a game is essentially about one thing: is this fun to play? Well, I can tell you with a straight face this gameis fun to play. In fact, it's one the best games I've ever played! More than once I had a smile on my face while playing Link's Awakening, for no other reason than that it's such a fun and heartwarming adventure. There are minigames to play, some cool scenes, interesting side-quests and of course the wonderful main-adventure. I played through this game more than once (more than I can't remember, in fact) and never have I grown tired of it. I think one of the best things in this game are the characters. As the game progresses, you really feel like you get to known them. You really start to care for some of them. I've grown especially fond of Marin myself, but Tarin and some other village inhabitants are great too.
A lot of people complain about the (lack of) story in a Zelda game. They often say you just have to rescue Princess Zelda again. Well, not this time. This adventure is completely different from the other Zeldas. The game starts when you are sailing home after another adventure. Suddenly, the lightning cracks, the sky cries with rain and everything becomes black before your eyes Luckily, you end up on a beach where a girl finds you. She takes you to her home and takes care of you. When you finally wake up, you discover you're at Koholint Island. Usually a very nice place, but lately, monsters started appearing in the neighbourhood. What's even worse, with your boat destroyed, there's no way to get back to Hyrule! You'd better get out of your bed and start searching for some answers. Luckily, there are a lot of people on the island who will help you on your quest, like this wise owl. He appears in the beginning of the game and keeps appearing to give you new information about what's happening, and what's about to happen I'm not going to give away the story here, so it's up to you to find out what's going on. Needless to say, I really like the story in this game. Nintendo did something really good here, by crafting an adventure so complete, everything in the game just clicks. The people, the locations, the side-quests, everything. This is classic material.
I didn't know a GameBoy game could have such good graphics. There's an awful lot of detail in the surroundings and buildings, the people are really outstanding and there are even some cool effects in this game (like a giant collapsing). When you're outside, you really can tell the difference whether you're in the prairie, the desert or at the beach. Really good work has been done here; I think I've not seen a GameBoy game look better than this yet.
On the risk of sounding repetitive; the sound is excellent too. I always play this game with the volume wide open (too bad the GB can't play music really loud). I've always been a fan of the Zelda tunes, so I was quite happy to find out a lot of familiar tunes return in this game. No Zelda is complete without the classic overworld tune (you know the one), so I liked hearing in this game again. Of course there are a lot of new melodies, which are really good; I especialy liked the tune you hear when go to the mountains, that tune is almost epic itself! You'll find yourself humming this music for days after playing the game.
This game is pretty long; it has a whopping number of 9 dungeons, each with a boss. Also, you'll have to find the dungeon first, which can take quite some time for some of them. Even if you try to complete this game as fast as possible, you'll be busy quite some hours, if not days. Of course it's much better to just take your time, enjoy the setting and the interaction between you and the characters. That way, you'll get the best out of this game. It'll last for weeks if you don't rush it.
Once you've finished the game, it doesn't mean you can just throw it away. As usual, there are a lot of things to collect; you still have some heart pieces to gather, secret seashells to find, minigames to play and much more. Even if you've done all that, you can try to get the secret, second ending to the game! Once you've done everything there is, I can imagine you coming back to it after a while. I own all the Zeldas, but this is the one I play over and over again.
I think this is pretty clear; I suggest you buy this game. This is arguably the best GameBoy game ever, and possibly one of the most enjoyable Zelda out there. In either way, this a classic game, which everyone should have played. I may be hard to find a copy nowadays, but if you happen to come across one, don't hesitate. This is pure gold
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/21/04
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