Review by Meeh
"True art. Beautiful. Glorious. The supreme product of the original Nintendo generation."
ALRIGHT. Let's get started. I would like to begin by saying this review may seem biased at points, but keep in mind that I hold this game in the highest esteem of ALL I have played, and you can bet your boots I have played a LOT of games over the 16 years I have been playing them.
I N T R O D U C T I O N
The Legend of Zelda: Link's awakening was originally released in 1993 as part of a bundle pack. After selling large numbers of copies, the game was re-released. In 1998, the game was re-released again, this time in a DX version for the GBC. You would think Nintendo wanted to sell the game, or something... anyways, it was successful for it's time, but soon forgotten with the release of Oracle of Seasons/Ages.
G A M E P L A Y : 10/10
This game enthralled me. Only two other games have ever come close to holding my attention the way this did (Skies of Arcadia and Metal Slug 3). The game is simply awesome to play. You become completely absorbed in Link's situation and ponder the consequences of his goal. All the tools Link uses are innovative and fun to use; at one point in the game, Link runs around with a pet Chain-Chomp (those big black balls with sharp teeth from the Mario series) tethered to him that munches on nearby enemies and digs for hidden items, and at another, he wields a flying rooster.
NPCs in the game actually have personalities, and they appear in numerous places as you progress. This gives them an aura of 'liveliness', so to speak.
The game has an average difficulty compared to the rest of the Zelda series. That is to say that you won't be forced to restart 39 times to get a lucky streak against any Nightmare(boss), but you won't be able to simply absorb the hits (as you could do in Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time and the Oracle series, for the most part) and beat the turd out of the Nightmare. Also, some Nightmares require amusing tactics to destroy them, in particular the boss of the second Dungeon; the player must beat a flying genie back into its bottle, then chuck the bottle into a wall. Another amusing (mini)boss has the player feeding bombs to a pair or disgruntled snakes.
The controls are absurdly simple. If this is your introduction to Zelda, then you will probably have to spend about 48 seconds (that's an average; I've timed it on some relatives of mine) figuring things out. Probably the most difficult thing to do is to save, which will require you to stretch your feeble fingers to cover all the buttons at once. If you ask me, that's quite difficult. ........what? ...pah. Fools.
G R A P H I C S : 10/10
Gorgeous. The graphics in this game were nothing short of artistic. These graphics were likely the best on the GB (next to Rare's Donkey Kong Land games), incorporating a similar style to LttP. The sprites were well done, and all their features are easily distinguishable. The bosses all have smooth motions, and no surface, item or texture looks stupid. The game's into sequence features an outstanding cinema sequence, about 25 seconds long. Simply amazing.
Keep in mind these graphics appeared in 1993. If you are a member of the current gaming generation, raised on titles like 'Resident Evil' and 'Thief', you probably are surprised that, zOmG, li3k dose graffics rnt fotorealistic1!1!11!!!!1! eleven.
My sincerest apologies to those that actually respect the artistic past of games. I just am sick of arguing with fools (to me, a 'fool' is someone who praises the trash that mass media influence has turned today's games into) who follow the motto "I am oblivious to the world outside my existence, so it doesn't matter!".
S O U N D : 10/10
It has always been difficult to score sound on GB games. You see, GB games rarely pass the realm of beeps and boops. I have some GB games that make noises like sandpaper on poorly paved concrete. So, normally I would omit sound in the score for a GB game. This game, however, has wonderful music, and several music-related elements. The overworld theme is a remixed version of the classic Zelda theme that sounds wonderful. The game was the first to incorporate music-style weaponry in the form of the Ocarina (eat THAT, OoT). All of the dungeons have individual themes which are fitting for each atmosphere. The 8 objects the player is trying to collect are all instruments, each of which adds a piece to the game's soul-stirring 'Ballad of the Wind Fish' which can be played at a certain spot and is essential to the game's completion. Some of the best music appears in the game's final areas, a desolate mountainous region deemed 'Tal Tal Heights'. Go get an MP3 if you doubt me; it's quite likely the best stuff in the Zelda series.
S T O R Y : 10/10
The only reason I gave this a 10 is because we aren't supposed to go higher than it.
I have NEVER seen a game with a more perfect, more touching, more soul-stirring story than this. NEVER. I kid you not. There are several reasons, but I would rather not go in depth; I'd take up about 6 pages with philosophical questions and analysis that I have accumulated through analysis of the story of this game.
The only way I could describe this story is as a tragedy. It is truly beautiful, and quite unlike any other Zelda games (the exclusion of the character Zelda in the game aside). We, the player, have for years been used to playing the role of the knight in shining armor, or the last man defending the space station, or the leading character in the party to destroy the big evil dude. Link's Awakening is NOTHING like that. I'll give you a bit of a taste:
In the game's opening sequence, you see a wrecked boat bravely battling a squall at sea, as lightning flashes in the background and rain falls from a darkened sky. In a flash of lightning, we see Link trying to hold his ship in one piece. Suddenly, another fills the screen, and we get a glimpse of the boat being struck by lightning.
Link awakens in a bed without his equipment, and sees a girl named Marin. She explains to him that she found him unconscious on the beach, and had nursed him back to life... she also briefly mentions that monsters have recently appeared on the island at roughly the time of your arrival. At this point, you gain control of Link. You will likely wander around Mabey Village for a bit, learning and growing attached to the townsfolk.
Following a path, you eventually find yourself on hostile ground. You enter the next area, and an Octorock appears and fires a few rocks at you. Using your shield, you work your way South and find a sword in the sand of a gorgeously-detailed beach. As you approach it, an owl swoops down and drops the first hints of the present situation on the island. From here, things grow more complex. In classic Zelda style, Link begins to gather the keys to dungeons and defeat the Nightmares(boss. They are aptly named, but I won't spoil anything) within them. As you near the completion of your quest, Link begins to realize what he is doing to his world, a world in which he has a love affair that proceeds further than anything we ever see between him and Zelda. The ending reduced me to tears the first time I saw it, and it still touches me today.
R E P L A Y
V A L U E: 7/10
You have no idea how much it hurts me to give this game less than a 10/10 in a score field. But, I must write the truth.
If you play this game all the way through, you will most likely enjoy it. I can offer no guarantees; every person is different, but I am almost positive you'll enjoy it. Anyways, after completing the game, you may want to replay it again to get a better comprehension of the little hints dropped in the beginning again. Or, you may want to play it again just because of the game's sheer awesomeness. At any rate, if you liked it the first time through, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't, you'll like it again.
I estimate that the game has 30 or 40 hours of play time, and much less if you rush it. Personally, I suggest you play the game at your own pace to absorb the glory around you.
However, the game does not seem to encourage the player to replay it. There are no extra features to unlock, although you may spend quite some time exploring Koholint to find everything. One incitement to replay the game is to get a death count of 0, thus revealing the game's secret ending. But that's about it. If you are anything like me, you will just replay this from time to time to relive the story, but otherwise you might just forget it.
F I N A L
R E C O M M E N D A T I O N
Buy. Buy buy BUY it. Or emulate a ROM of it. Or steal it. You MUST try this game. THIS is the pinnacle of gaming, a paragon of excellence. I recommend you buy it before it sinks into the depths of time.
Final score: 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/03/05
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