Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Review

Sleeping On The Job
By: Roku

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interaction 4
   Originality 3
   Story 3
   Music & Sound 3
   Visuals 4
   Challenge Easy
   Completion Time 10-20 hours  

Don't fall
Don't fall
This review is based on the original Gameboy version. After returning to its roots and establishing itself on the SNES, the Zelda series decided to try its luck on the Gameboy as well. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening picks up where Lttp left off as Link travels to make sure his nemesis is unable to return. A storm causes him to crash his boat on a island where the locals take care of him. He then sets off on yet another adventure.

Battles are fought in the same way as they are in other overhead Zelda games. Generally, Link battles his enemies with a series of sword strikes and deflects shots with his shield. He still retains the ability to charge and release a spin attack and use a large supply of tools to aid him in battle. Awakening is a bit different from other Zelda games in the fact that Link can equip any two tools which may or may not include his sword or shield. While this isn't too amazing, it does allow certain combinations such as exploding bomb-arrows. Boss fights involve discovering and striking at an enemy's weakness. Battles are fought in real time and are quite exciting as a result. Very well done.

There are few new puzzles in Awakening, so few puzzles are a real challenge. Enemies are quite easy as well and as most powerups are optional, few of them are designed to match Link's potential strength. Though some bosses that have the habit of knocking him out of the battlefield are annoying, none of them are particularly difficult either. Even some of the later bosses can be defeated with only a few hits.

As with the other overhead Zelda games, Awakening has tight play control. The inventory interface isn't setup as well as Lttp's, but that is understandable as the Gameboy has fewer buttons and it does a good job with what little it has to work with. Though there isn't very much dialog, the little there is well localized. No major mistakes or noticeable errors.

Awakening is very similar to Link to the Past in terms of gameplay and puzzles. It borrows heavily from the first Zelda as well. Only a few tools such as the feather are new. The story, however, is new and interesting. The way the story is implemented is different as the story evolving slightly after each dungeon rather than after each set of dungeons. Trading has been added as well which allows the player to work towards some special items.

Though the storyline isn't amazing, it's still good for an action RPG. The story is about the same length and complexity as Lttp's story, but the implementation and advancement are a bit better. Generally, a bit about the strange world Link has found himself upon is revealed after every quest which helps the flow a bit. Also, it doesn't have as much competition on the Gameboy as it did on the SNES as far as story goes. A few NPCs have even been given personalities and a slightly larger role in the game.

That's not a dog...
That's not a dog...
As Awakening is for the Gameboy, there isn't as much room for dungeons as in Lttp making it much shorter. The entire game can be finished in about ten hours easily enough. To help make up for the slight lack in time of the main game there are several sidequests for Link to do including gathering heart pieces, completing the trading sequence, and gathering the many well-hidden secret seashells. These quests can add another ten hours easily.

The Gameboy isn't known for its amazing sound quality and this problem shows. A lot of Awakening's dungeon/cave music is very repetitive and sounds like bloops and bleeps. There isn't much track diversity either. The overworld, boss, and song of awakening are well done though, but can only do so much on their own. Sound effects aren't too impressive either, but are less noticeable than the music. Despite the slightly lacking music, it still manages to do a decent job for a Gameboy game.

Awakening's visuals aren't incredibly impressive for the most part either. Most sprites are plain, but still pretty good for a Gameboy game. The best part of the visuals show in the amazing amount of detail given to each boss and sub-boss. The detail given to these enemies along with how well they're animated is impressive.

Though it's very similar to Lttp, Awakening is still somewhat original and manages to be very good for a Gameboy action RPG. There are fewer levels, but each level is well designed and while visuals and sound aren't anywhere close to Lttp's, it still manages to do a good job given its limited resources. The main improvement is the plot flow which is quite nice. Overall, a great game and a good choice for a portable RPG. I recommend it to all Zelda fans and those that need a good RPG on the go.

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