If you no longer knew that Link & # 39; s Awakening first released Game Boy in 1993, you will be forgiven for thinking about the last Legend of Zelda game ] is brand new. Almost everything about the new version, which launches this week with the Nintendo Switch, feels modern – whether it's lavish detailed visuals and diorama-like presentations that make you feel in a lively, miniature world; or its tightly coupled card that forces you to think carefully about every tool in your arsenal to continue.
The new Link Awakening is an almost perfect example of a remake: it retains everything that made the original so memorable, while also making it work for contemporary audiences. And if you really didn't know about the beginning of Waking the Link ? You have a wonderful surprise ahead. Waking up the link is, I think, safe to say, one of the strangest adventures of Zelda . For starters, it does not include Zelda at all, nor the emblematic fantasy realm of Hyrule. Instead, he starts with Link breaking his boat and washing himself on a mysterious island. The distinguishing feature of the island is a large mountain, at the top of which sits a giant, spotted egg that is so high up that it is surrounded by clouds.
Before long, Link learns that an egg is home to a sleeping creature called a wind fish, and that the only way to get off the island is to wake him up. To do this, he first needs to find eight tools hidden throughout the island. It's a lot of footwork, but at least it gives you a clear purpose for the long haul. You can actually see the egg from the beginning and it sits there annoyingly throughout the quest.
This is a top-down Zelda sort of like the SNES seed game Link to the past . (In fact, Link & # 39; s Awakening was originally planned as the Game Boy port of this game.) As always, you need to explore the big world that is home to many dungeons where you can find the ones you need tools for progress. The island is like a big, interconnected puzzle that you solve, constantly gaining new abilities and objects.
This means that you will regularly encounter impassable points that you cannot actually cross later in the game. This can be a scale that Link is too weak to lift, or gaps that are too far to jump. During the game you will come across new items – bombs, arrows and other basic supports Zelda – that you can use to get to these obstacles and find secret places, new biomes and dungeons to explore. Link's Awakening map is not particularly large, but it feels tight, a place where you need to carefully examine every inch to find everything.
This is true of most Zelda games and there are many familiar points here. Still looking for cracked walls to bombard and bosses with glowing weak points to hit. But there are a few things that make Awakening the Link different. On the one hand, this is a setting that is a nice change of pace from the familiar Hyrule and one that quite often feels downright weird.
One of the weirdest things about the game is the plentiful Super Mario references, there are side characters that look like Mario and Luigi, side scrolling sequences involving goombas, and a woman holding a chomps chain as pets. It's even stranger because it's never really explained, but it just kind of fits. The Island Link & # 39; s Awakening has the kind of inhabited, historical flair that the series is known for, but it curves a bit towards the silly side of the spectrum.
What is perhaps most remarkable about this new version is how closely it adheres to the original Awakening the Link and how well it stands up However. The original games for boys don't usually age well, but for the most part, The Awakening Link doesn't feel dated. There are some pacing issues and moments where you may find yourself stuck because you missed a little something. (The annoying commercial sequence makes a return here, so you may want to keep a detailed guide.) But, more than most adventure Zelda it also provides clear ways to guide you. There are cryptic owls that provide advice, a literal phone line that you can call when you are stuck, and a map that you can mark to save places you may want to return to later.
By far, the most modern thing in the game is how it looks. The Awakening of the Link is equal parts fascinating and startling, richly detailed world that really invites you to explore. The connection and characters he comes across are like miniature figures in a handmade diorama and has a tilt-shifting effect that blurs the edges of the screen, making everything look even smaller. Everything is just so sweet, even jumping spiders with one eye.
But this is not only a sweet, charming world, but also filled with a surprising amount of detail. When Link is able to swim the lakes, you can see straight through the clear blue water towards the rocks of the lake. The old ruins look appropriately ancient, and the houses are filled with nice touches such as framed pictures and dishes in the middle of cooking.