Review by Apathetic Aardvark
"This is a good game, but what does it have to do with Link?"
Zelda: Link's Awakening? I wasn't aware that Link had been put to sleep myself. You see, Link's Awakening was the first Zelda game I had ever gotten far enough in to see a plot develop. Sure, I had played the original on NES before, but quite frankly I was just horrible at it when I was seven years old. How was I supposed to know if Link had been put to sleep at the end of the game by evil forces? What was Link waking up from? My questions about the game were soon answered though, as early as the opening sequence.
And I must say I was impressed by Link's Awakening from the moment I turned on the power to my Gameboy. The first impressive thing was the slight introduction movie, nothing fancy, but for Gameboy, I was quite impressed. The thunder sounded like, thunder. Beyond this was the impressive title theme with a familiar theme I had picked up from my limited experience with the NES game.
I'm proud to say, I did not miss the first item in this game as I did in the NES version. Mostly because Tarin does not let you leave the first house without this item, Link's Shield. From here, you first real objective of the game is simple enough, getting Link his sword; after all, what is Link without a weapon? Once you get your sword the plot begins to happen. Hoot, an owl, will introduce himself to you and speak of a legendary hero who is said to arrive on the island. Could he mean Link?! Maybe! One thing about Hoot really got to annoy me, when he speaks; the dialogue box makes such an annoying sound every time a word appears on the screen. Tap into that, Hoot is an Owl, what's he doing awake during the daytime?
Also, I would like to add how much of a marketing genius Nintendo is. Not only did they make a character in the game, Marin, look virtually identical to Princess Zelda, they used Mario frequently in the instructions and have a Yoshi doll you can get very early in the game.
Back to the game itself; Link's Awakening offered a variety of items I was unfamiliar with. Everything from the Sword to the Bow and Arrow to something as petty as a shovel for digging are included in Link's arsenal. Sadly, Link has but two hands (or maybe because the Gameboy has two buttons) and may only have two active items at a time, which means you must select from a menu every time you wish to change to something else. This gets annoying at times. It's not a big deal at first, when you have only four or five items and are able to do most things with only two items, but after a while caves and boss lairs will have several kinds of obstacles which require you to switch every room. Granted it takes about two seconds to switch, but it's still a pain. In addition to this, one item, the Ocarina, can get in the way of scrolling through items as it has a sub selection menu, just something to complain about though. Aside from these minor annoyances, selecting what you want to use has never been made easier. The menu to select from holds only ten items and two more that you’re holding, so it's not as in some Final Fantasy games where you can scroll forever without finding an item.
As I had led into before, the familiar theme from Zelda was well done. This is far from the only song though. Every area in the game has a unique song to it, which is one good way of knowing where you are, besides the obvious way of using the map. I like the music to Link's Awakening, a lot. It's no Uematsu score loaded with a hundred songs, but they're good, there's a decent variety, besides, it's on Gameboy. I can't think of a single other game on the system with this many good songs. The sound effects are good as well. For the amount of items you can have, there is a good deal of moderately realistic sound effects. The ''alert'' noise when you're low on life is really annoying and the sound of Link getting hit sounds similar to a large fruit being punctured, but I can live with that.
The graphics are wonderfully done. I would venture to say better than any game on any portable system in the early 1990s. I thought this was the most remarkable aspect to the game.
The story after being introduced to Hoot slows down for a while as you are seemingly running around doing errands for the Owl. This trend continued though, which frustrated me at times. Rather than just being able to play through the game and do side quests as an option; the side quests are heavily intertwined with the story forcing you to do them at some point. While you get a reward for them (which you frequently just give away to the next person for another reward) they slow down game play too often. This is my biggest criticism of an otherwise solid storyline, being too dependent on side quests.
The main storyline itself just isn't bulky enough to support itself. Go around, kill the boss, get his instrument, talk to Hoot about where the next boss lair is and be on your way. Rinse and repeat that seven more time before heading to the final boss. The only real dialogue outside of this is one conversation with Marin as you escort her from Mabee Village to its sister village (the only other village in the entire game). In addition, the ending was less than I was expecting.
Unlike a standard RPG, Link's Awakening forces you to fight your enemies in real time. This is pretty cool though, it beats pushing 'attack' or 'magic'; giving it many aspects of an action game. One small problem with this though. Link can't shoot anything diagonally. You can jump diagonally, you can somewhat force one of the weapons to take the path of a diagonal, but you can't turn diagonally directly. This makes the game very two dimensional in that aspect.
Link's Awakening was unable to engage me any further in the series. I really didn't care what future adventures would have in store for Link while I had completed it. In fact, to this day I still have not gone back to play any previous game or any of the new ones. For a company so proud of the Zelda game heritage, Nintendo didn't leave enough pathways into future games to a somewhat lazy person such as myself.
Replay Value: 7/10
Challenge: Average, for an additional challenge a player may omit getting heart containers thus having less life and increasing the challenge, this is also a reason for a reasonably high replay value.
Overall Score: 7/10
Of course, being for such an archaic this game will need to be purchased rather than just rented. You'll enjoy spending your fifty sense for this oldie but goodie.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 04/30/03, Updated 04/30/03
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