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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Review

A Semi-Musical Adventure

By: Stewart Bishop


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 5
   Plot 6
   Localization 6
   Replay Value 4
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

10-15 Hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
 

   After the success of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, fans were still itching for more Zelda. Despite having a very misleading title, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was more than enough to appease fans. With gameplay and graphics very similar to that of the preceding Zelda game, it was praised as an instant classic.

   Link's Awakening takes place just after A Link to the Past, with Link traveling across the sea by boat. Of course, since fate has no mercy for heroes, he ends up shipwrecked on an island and knocked unconscious. He awakens in the house of a local named Marin and discovers that the only way off the island is by awakening the legendary Wind Fish. Though the story strays from its roots by neglecting staple features such as the Triforce, Ganon and Zelda, it does nothing to detract from the game and make it feel any less magical than the other Zelda titles. Instead, it offers a refreshing break from the overused norm of 'rescue the princess and get the Triforce.'

   Link's Awakening is quite similar to A Link to the Past in terms of gameplay. The system has been tweaked to be more efficient, however; the traditional two-item system that has been used for the previous Zelda games is present, but the sword may now be replaced with another item. This allows for a bundle of combinations and saves a few extra trips to the menu to switch items. From playing ocarinas, throwing boomerangs and jumping (yes, Link's Awakening has introduced jumping to the Zelda world), youíll be doing a lot of switching, guaranteed. Unlike other Zeldas where an item had a respective dungeon where it was used for every puzzle, youíll have to use combinations of items, old and new, to get past the labyrinths in Linkís Awakening. After the maze is cleared, you'll face off against a boss of some sort, each having set patterns and a particular weakness that you can exploit, provided that you can figure it out. Defeating them is simple enough, but finding out how to harm them can be a chore in some cases. The most difficult parts of the game are always figuring out where to go and what to do next, rather than tough battles.


...Or a Triforce
Now I'll Steal Me a Master Sword...  

   The graphics also have the general 'feel' of A Link to the Past. Several familiar items such as pots and bushes to throw around are abundant in the game. Though not as detailed and high-resolution as its SNES counterpart, it is quite remarkable. The sprites are smoothly animated and a high level of detail was put into the background and foreground alike, especially considering that it is a Gameboy game. The only blunder is the occasional slowdown on some graphically intense events, such as an entire field of bushes being slashed to bits or a flock of angry chickens swarming across the screen. This can prove to be somewhat annoying, especially when you're trying to make timed jumps at the same time.

   The music also crawls slowly when this happens. Thankfully, it doesn't happen often, especially since the music is very good. Like its predecessors, the main highlight of the music is the Overworld Theme, presented in all of its glory through a Gameboy speaker. Simply put, itís some of the best music ever to grace the handheld gaming world, with soothing tunes that vividly describe the magical realm of Zelda. It is also interesting to note that music plays an important role in Linkís Awakening. Though it is not as vital as in Ocarina of Time, there are several points where Link will have to bring an Ocarina to his lips to continue his quest.

   While the game itself is very good, there is little to do after its completion, which isn't a good sign since the game is short, even with all of the necessary exploration. Collecting seashells is a bore and frighteningly, there is no second quest. The only secret name that youíll be seeing in the game is "THIEF", which is what your name is changed to if you steal items from the shop.

   To this day, Linkís Awakening remains one of the most popular Gameboy titles of all time. Though it can be considered a black sheep in terms of storyline, this is by no means a bad quality. It combines the magical feel of a Zelda game with a title that is its own, all neatly presented on a tiny 2 x 2.5 inch cartridge.





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