Review by mario man4

"Classic Zelda that exceeds its predecessors."

Imagine this. You were out sailing on your boat, a storm came along, and you found yourself washing along the shore of a mysterious island called Koholint. You have nothing equipped but a sword and a shield, and you have to get home. This is the premise of Link's Awakening, the first portable Zelda that exceeds in nearly every way. This game will enthrall both Zelda fans and regular gamers in a way that only Zelda can. Let's get into some more specific aspects of the game.

Story- 10/10
This, by far, is the most original and interesting story that any Zelda game has ever had. Most Zelda games follow a similar format (Get the triforce, beat Ganon, save Zelda), but this game strays away from the standard Zelda plotline and branches out into a fresh new concept that blew gamers away. You still play as Link, a courageous young Hylian who wields a sword and various other items. Your adventure begins when the boat you were sailing on is destroyed in a violent sea storm. A young girl named Marin finds you lying on the beach, and takes you into her house. You wake up and, after Marin's father grants you your shield, set out on an incredible journey in an attempt to leave the island. As the game progresses, you'll encounter a wise old owl who will reveal the secrets of the island. Your quest requires you to collect eight instruments that are found hidden well inside puzzle-filled dungeons. The owl informs you that the only way to leave the island is to awaken the ruler of the island, the Wind Fish, is to use the instruments as a sort of alarm clock. As the game goes on, you'll find out more about Koholint Island, and you'll discover that it isn't what it appears to be.

Overall, the story of this game far exceeds any Zelda game we've seen in the past. It had a mysterious feeling about it and it was built up throughout the game. The game truly shines in this category.

Game Play and Control- 9/10
Like every other Zelda game, the gameplay is superb. It mainly consists of solving all of the puzzles of the eight dungeons that are scattered across the massive world map. Each dungeon contains several rooms that include enemies that you fight with your trusty sword; new stone slabs that show helpful hints once you can find the missing piece; and treasure chests that include keys for opening doors, compasses for helping you find the keys, and maps that help you when you get lost. Also, in each dungeon, there is a hidden special item. You will be finding feathers that allow you to jump, powerful bracelets that let you lift heavy objects, and much, much more. These items are used to defeat the Nightmares, or main bosses, of the levels. Defeating a nightmare results in obtaining the instrument that will help you awaken the Wind Fish. The gameplay is fun, exciting, and sometimes frustrating when you get lost. It may take plenty of patience, coffee, and FAQ usage to get through this game.

Now, this game started a new and interesting concept that has never been tried again in a Zelda. Once in a while, you would come across a side-scrolling type area, which really opened up the depth of gameplay. You could now move about in a completely new fashion, which really added to the variety. For some reason, this is the only Zelda game that has tried this, which I think is a mistake. Anyway, the gameplay of this, along with very other Zelda, is simply genius.

The controls are smooth, simple, and really have no problems. You touch the control pad to move in the four compass directions, and you used items with the A and B buttons. So, really, your controls are limited to two buttons and a control pad. Because of its sheer simplicity, the controls of this game are easy to master.

Music and Sound- 8/10
The music of this game, while limited to the Game Boy's sound quality, is amazing. The music gives the game an epic feel that really connects with the gamer. Of course, you have the classic Zelda theme that is played in large portions of the overworld. However, you are given some new beauties, like The Ballad of the Wind Fish, a very catchy song that is sung by Marin when you speak to her. The dungeon music really gives off an “evil” feel, and the boss music really makes you feel like your fighting a Nightmare. Great classic music. As for the sound, there really isn't much to say here, other than it fits the game well.

Graphics- 8/10
I was really surprised when I put this game in my Game Boy and turned it on. The graphics during the opening scene were amazing. They took my breath away…and I was seriously thinking, “Am I really playing my Game Boy?” The great graphics continued for the rest of the game. Everything is crisp, clear and easy on the eyes. This game's graphics really took my breath away, from start to finish. The bosses were well designed as were the regular enemies. Don't be fooled into thinking every GB game has sub par graphics, Link's Awakening proves that wrong.

Replay Value- 7/10
This game, while amazing, doesn't have the best replay value in the world. Why? The answer is because there are literally NO side quests or extra adventures to partake in. Really, once you've beaten it once, you've done everything there is to do in this game. Don't get me wrong, you'll definitely want to pick it up and play it again sometime, but, other than finding all pieces of heart, there is nothing new for you to do. This is the game's low point.

Rent or Buy?
I would definitely say buy, for the sole reason that this game may take you a while to finish, and you really want to complete it, trust me. Believe me, it will be a worth-while investment and an excellent addition to your library.

Link's Awakening opened up some fresh and interesting new concepts of gameplay that truly set the game apart from the rest of the series. It also had a superior story that captivated you until the exciting finish. It still is and I suspect will always be my number one Game Boy game and my favorite Zelda.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/19/06

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