Review by PIW
Reviewed: 02/14/03 | Updated: 05/09/03
The Jewel in Gameboy's Crown
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is Link's only outing on the Gameboy. However, it won't distress you too much once you learn that it's a spectacular game. Breifly, the story. Now, I could copy and paste the whole beginning straight out of one of the FAQs, but instead I'll give you a brief overview. After Link defeated Ganon, he went on a quest to find wisdom, so as to protect him and his people better when Ganon, or whatever would follow Ganon came again. However, a terrible storm wrecked his ship, and Link became washed up on a desert island. Someone found him and woke him up, someone who he thought was Zelda. She tells you that you're on Koholint Island, home to a giant egg, which apparently holds a mystical creature known as the windfish. You go to the beach in search of your sword and other equipment you may have lost. When you get there, an owl tells you ''Awaken the Wind Fish and all will be answered.'' Link's quest to awaken the Wind Fish begins.
Okay, on to the actual game itself. Link's Awakening plays in a similar style to Link to the Past on SNES, but even more like The Legend of Zelda (the first one) on the NES. With only 2 buttons for weapons/items etc, it means that you have to swap around frequently to get everything you need. While this may seem annoying, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been, and in most situations, you won't have to keep changing and changing, not until the final boss, anyway. The game works as follows: you're in the 'World' as it were, that is to say, you wander around, and there are places branching off from it. You wander around, looking for things you might need, for example, equipment, rupees, Seashells etc. Then, there are eight dungeons, each of which you must complete in order to attain a musical instrument, which is needed to wake the Windfish. Along the way, in all places, there are enemies, monsters which have invaded Koholint, and you must dispatch of them, lest they dispatch of you. The fighting is pretty much hack and slash, no turn based combats or anything, but there are different tactics you can and should use, if you want to get rid of enemies without getting yourself killed.
To do use, you'll need to use lots of different items. This is fine, as loads have been chucked in. You have some classic ones, such as the Boomerang, Bow, and of course Sword and Shield, but you get new ones as well, such as Roc's Feather, which allows you to jump. Roc's Feather is a revolutionary thing in a Zelda game, as jumping had never been possible before, and has never been since. Many items can be used for many different purposes, and you should experiment with loads of items if you ever get stuck, as one will probably do the trick. The verstility is then increased, as you can use different combinations of items. A good one to use is the Bomb Arrows (Bombs + Arrows) which cause long range, heavy damage, which is always good for taking out powerful enemies before they get to you.
There's a lot of challenges in this Zelda. First of all, you've got the eight dungeons, which can be seemingly impossible at times. Not to mention the fact that you've got to find them all around the world. Fortunately the owl is often at hand with advice and hints and tips on how to get to the next bit. Some of the bosses you'll fight, well, OK, all of them, will be extremely hard if you're not exactly sure of how to use your items, so make sure you've got it covered. In addition to this, there are lots of puzzles within the game, most of which require serious 'brain-age' (thinking), and some of them will get you stuck for a long time. However, a little lateral thinking, and use of items will get you through easily enough.
The game will last you a heck of a long time, especially when you consider not only the huge length of the game, and the long time it'll take you, but also all the side quests you have. At the start of the game you have 3 Hearts, and that's you life/damage meter, or whatever you want to call it. There are 12 Heart pieces scattered round, and 4 will give you a new heart to your life bar. More hearts will mean that you're less likely to die, and so collecting them is advised. However, a lot of them are hard to find, and in obscure locations, so finding them won't be easy. There's also 25 Secret Seashells scattered accross the land, which you can use at the Seashell house to get some free stuff, culminating in something VERY special (No Spoilers). Throw in a traditional Zelda trading sequence, and you've got a game which will last even the hardest Zelda veteran 15 + hours to complete, getting everything, but for most, it'll take you about 25 + hours, so you're certainly getting your money's worth.
The visuals in this game are good for the standards of a Gameboy Game. Sure, there may be a distinct lack of colour, but there's lots of detail in each scene, and all the characters look great. Considering it's 8-bit-ness, the graphics are surprisingly good. The monsters look evil, you can actually see it in their faces. Everything looks as it should, for example, the pots look just as big as Link, and the strange looking chickens as well. The sprites, which are extremely well done, are not re-used over and over, but you get lots of different varying ones, which keeps you involved in the game, and doesn't let you get bored. Link's Awakening has some great tunes, some of which are extremely addictive. One thing that's nice about the sounds is that they're incredibly simple tunes. This is good, as they come out fine. I think that if they'd tried orchestral pieces, or something else intricate or complex, then it would've sounded crap. However, the sounds work perfectly, and they complement the game, and accentuate the moods that Link and others feel in the game.
Overall, Link's Awakening continues on the Zelda tradition of great adventures wrapped around brilliant stories. Link's Awakening has a great story, which is very emotional at some points. In fact, the ending is the most emotional moment I've ever seen in a video game. Extremely good.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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