Remake Review: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

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When the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was first announced, I was unsure of the new toy-like visuals. I was also wondering what, if anything, was new to this version of the game. I also have access to the 3DS virtual console version, so I was wondering if it was worth replaying it again, after having replayed it somewhat recently.

It should be noted that Link’s Awakening was the first Legend of Zelda game I’ve ever played, so I hold a fair amount of nostalgia for the game. In fact, it is also one of the few games I have played that gives me an emotional reaction when I get to the ending. Before I begin, I would like to mention that my replay of the original on the 3DS was a short experience, so going into this remake on the Switch made me wonder how well this game would hold out as a modern gaming experience. With all that said, let’s begin.

It is hard to start a discussion about the Link’s Awakening remake without mentioning the graphical choice. Everything looks like a toy here, making the game look sort of like a diorama made of figurines and other plastic toys. When the game was announced, I wasn’t sure if I liked the look. As I was playing the game, the look didn’t bother me, but also didn’t wow me either. There are a few scenes where the toy-like look is animated in a very smooth manner and it impressed me at those times.

LinksAwakenTown
A quick look at the graphical direction of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake.

I find it important to remember that this game is a remake of a Game Boy game, where the graphics were at best cartoonish and pixelated. Everyone playing the game should remember that as a remake, it has to have a similar feel to the original, but with some graphical improvement. Personally, the music alterations do more to bring back the feel of the original than the graphics, but the graphics do not interfere either.

So other than the graphics and sound, what else has been changed? Oddly, not too much, as most of the world of Link’s Awakening is designed in almost the same exact way. If you were looking for drastic changes in layout, you won’t find it here. It is impressive that so much of the game is so faithfully recreated at every point.

LinksAwakenBoss
The first boss in Link’s Awakening.

What is most helpful to the player in this remake is the use of the Switch’s extra buttons that the Game Boy doesn’t have. These extra buttons are stand ins for items you would normally assign to the two buttons on the Game Boy. There are buttons for the sword, shield, dashing, and lifting objects. The remaining two buttons you can assign to items like usual, meaning you don’t have to switch out items nearly as often as you did on the Game Boy edition. Another convenience in the remake is the removal of a message prompt when you find an obstacle you can’t remove yet. Also, the option to save is in a menu, as opposed to having to press four buttons at once. All of these changes lead to a much smoother experience.

There is one new noteworthy feature in this game, though. It is called the chamber dungeon, where you get to create your own dungeons to explore. It seems like a possible precursor to a Legend of Zelda level editor game that could be released in the future. This mode is fairly limited, as you have to use preset rooms based on rooms you have played already in this game. You are also limited based on the parameters the game gives you to fulfill. Also, the only way to share these creations is to have a Legend of Zelda Amiibo to store the dungeon, which you can then place on a friend’s console. Lastly, there are minimal rewards for completing your own creations, so there is little motivation to keep playing this mode, unless you find it fun on your own.

LinksAwakenDungeon
A look at the chamber dungeon feature, where you can make your own dungeon.

Other changes include more warp points, heart containers, and seashells to find. In addition, the mini-games have somewhat more depth, with some additional rewards. There is also an optional hero mode available at the beginning, where you take double damage, and there are no health replenishing hearts to drop from enemies or bushes. The only way to heal is to find a great fairy, get a heart container, or obtain the secret medicine.

Beyond that, the game feels mostly the same to the Game Boy version. Some major enemies late in the game might be more aggressive or have more health, but the bulk of the adventure is the same. Luckily, Link’s Awakening still holds up fairly well, and it is proof that the developers were just as good at making games then with limited technology as they are now with more impressive hardware. And yes, the ending still gave me the same emotional reaction I had the first several times I played this game on older hardware.

Recommendations:

  • Save your rupees, as the game requires some big purchases to progress in this game.
  • Keep an eye out for seashells, there are some decent rewards for gathering enough.
  • Start the trading sequence early, as you need it to progress.
  • Try out the chamber dungeons, but don’t play all the challenges unless you adore this mode.
  • Try not to get a single game over, there is a slight alternate ending if you don’t lose at any point.
  • If you like a greater challenge, try hero mode.
  • Play the color dungeon for your choice of rewards.
  • Test out the mini-games if only to see how they changed from the original.

Pros:

  • Fairly good musical changes.
  • Good puzzle design, typical for a Legend of Zelda game.
  • Game has the same charm as the original.
  • Better button configuration.

Cons:

  • New graphics are strange (Possible con, doesn’t impact game much, some players might like the look).
  • Short loading screens (minor con).
  • Slight lag when changing areas (minor con).
  • Game is relatively small.
  • Chamber dungeons require Amiibo to share, have limited rewards.

Other notes, unsure if a Pro or Con.

  • The game is almost identical to the original. This is good or bad based on your expectations for a remake.

Verdict:

8.8/10 A faithful recreation of a great classic

This is the definitive edition of Link’s Awakening, currently on the market (barring possible other future remakes, which is unlikely). I would have liked more changes or new features, but this game is a must buy for those who never played the original.


That is what I thought of this remake of Link’s Awakening. Did you like the graphical change? What did you make of the chamber dungeon option? Would you like a Zelda dungeon maker game? If you played the original and this game, which did you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review, be sure to click that like button. To keep up with That’s All Games, you may subscribe via email. Until next time, have fun gaming.

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