The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Title: The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Websitehttps://www.zelda.com/links-awakening/
Genre: Adventure, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 20/09/19
Price: £49.99 – Rapid Reviews were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

Striking an Ocarina chord…

As the Nintendo Switch continues to strike a chord with fans both old and new, the justification for purchase strengthens by the minute. With brand new IPs, recent ports and the ever-present Nintendo mainstays, the eShop is fit to burst. So too are gaming backlogs the world over. None of that matters though, as Link’s Awakening has arrived. If ever there was a title to epitomise all that Nintendo and their latest console stand for, this is it.

Not content with the tag of ‘remaster’, Nintendo was quick to clarify that this is much more than that. ‘Reimagining’ is the phrase used to describe Link’s next outing on the Switch, and never has a phrase been apter.

With a transformation that is unrivalled in gaming to date, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a spectacle of the highest order. Excitement reached a fever pitch during early gameplay snippets released by Nintendo, only for comparison videos and in-depth analysis to turn it up a notch once more. Thankfully, what was showcased in the months leading up to release has come to fruition, and boy does it look beautiful.

…’ reimagining’ doesn’t seem to cut it…

When a game bearing the ‘Legend of Zelda’ title releases, you know you are in for a treat. No sooner is that felt than in the opening sequence of Link’s Awakening, with Link washing up ashore on Koholint Island. A place that, for some, much time has been spent already exploring. Not like this, though. It is mightily impressive, so much so that even ‘reimagining’ doesn’t seem to cut it. The attention to detail, the design of each asset, even the way that Link saunters around, all bring new life to a title first released just over 25 years ago, in 1993. All of this has been achieved while remaining faithful to one of the greatest games to grace our screens – no mean feat.

Aside from the visuals, this game is almost identical to the original. It’s the same map, enemies, dungeons and the like. Gamers can retrace the steps from their childhood and clear the game with relative ease. For those gamers fortunate enough to have this version of Links Awakening as their first foray, it’s an incredible way to play. That being said, its success will depend a lot on perspective.

While the graphics have had an overhaul, the core gameplay remains the same. That is the same mechanics from the early 1990s. Even though Links Awakening does feel as though it was ahead of its time back then, it had some restrictions which limited its capabilities. By recreating the game in its image, this reimagining can feel restrictive too. On the flip side, what this game can do is showcase a time in gaming where exploration was rife and hand-holding was limited.

A conglomerate of failed attempts…

To uncover the truth behind your whereabouts and rouse the legendary Wind Fish, explore Koholint Island and all its trap-ridden dungeons, reimagined in stunning detail for this new release of one of the most beloved The Legend of Zelda games. Along the way, you’ll meet a hilarious assortment of charming characters to which you’ll never want to say goodbye. 

Link’s Awakening is a much more traditional Zelda title than Breath of the Wild, and for more recent fans of the series’, this game may not be what they had in mind. Focused much more on dungeons, the narrative in this game is to explore the island, find a dungeon and clear its rooms to unlock the necessary item. It rarely deviates from this, yet has enough variety and ingenuity to ensure that it keeps you wanting more until the very end.

It wouldn’t be Nintendo without a few new features, and there have been a lot of quality of life improvements to introduce Link’s Awakening to the modern-day gamer. These are features that would be commonplace today but will make a world of difference to those players returning to Koholint. Waypoints can be pinpointed on the map, more items can be equipped than before, and the soundtrack has received an update in the form of new arrangements: nothing groundbreaking, but necessary to cater for audiences old and new.

A feature which is much more ‘groundbreaking’, although not in its current form, is the Chamber Stones mode. Here, you can rearrange any previous dungeon rooms you have completed into a complete dungeon, bosses and all. With inspiration being heavily drawn from Mario Maker, it’s an addition which keeps people playing after the credits roll. It could have been more expansive and offer more creativity, but it is an enjoyable experience for a while.

It is rather unfortunate that this title cannot be heralded a masterpiece, because it has all the makings of one. From announcement to release, there was rich coverage of Links Awakening both online and at press events. At every turn, there was praise for how good it looked, but disappointment reserved for the performance. Some four months later, and the same disappointment is felt. Although far from game-breaking, it does leave the game feeling a little less polished than one would like. It is unforgiving considering how vital this game is in gaming history, and it deserved better.

Breath of the Wild is a console seller, and Links Awakening isn’t far behind. While it doesn’t offer the same values for money and performance issues are yet to be patched, what it does offer is an incredibly beautiful gaming experience that is well-suited to the Nintendo Switch. This reviewer purchased a Switch Lite, and Link’s Awakening was a near-perfect companion.

Rapid Reviews Rating

You can purchase The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/The-Legend-of-Zelda-Link-s-Awakening-1514327.html

You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.

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About Shaun Hughes

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