E3 2019 Hands-on – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
I can’t explain how excited I was to play the remake of Link’s Awakening at E3 2019. I love all Game Boy Zeldas, and while Oracle of Seasons is still my favorite of the bunch, I have lost count of how many times I’ve played and beaten Link’s Awakening. That’s the perfect game to remake to a new system, as it had a great story and setting, but was severely hindered by the hardware limitations of the Game Boy. After playing the game for a good fifteen minutes, Nintendo made me want the remake even more than before.
We already knew that the game looked great with its plastic figurine art style. We all knew it would feature an orchestrated rearrangement of the original game’s soundtrack. I was a lot more curious to check out the gameplay. I wanted to know how the game’s mechanics would be translated to an infinitely more powerful system than the original Game Boy, and if the game would fit into this new engine. Thankfully, it does, although I have a few doubts regarding its longevity.
The best thing I can say about this remake is that it’s still Link’s Awakening. Everything I could do in the demo looked and felt just like the original. I woke up from Marin’s house, got the shield, ventured down the beach in order to get my sword, went up to the forest, grabbed the mushroom, had the witch transform it into magic powder, turned the raccoon back into Tarin, got the key and entered the first dungeon. I could also grab a few Heart Pieces at the same exact locations featured in the original. I could even steal items from the shop (and get violently killed by doing so). I managed to do everything pretty quickly out of muscle memory. This iteration of Koholint is identical to the original. But that doesn’t mean that the remake plays just like the original.
My biggest issue with the original Link’s Awakening, as well as the Oracle games, was that, due to the Game Boy’s lack of buttons, you could only hold two items at any given time. The Switch version of Link’s Awakening fixes this problem by having two dedicated item slots, as well as a dedicated sword button and shield button. That dramatically decreases the amount of times you need to pause the game to change your items. The overworld isn’t tile-based anymore, making the sole act of traversing through the map a lot faster. That’s all fine and dandy, but the game’s size and scope haven’t changed. As previously mentioned, it took me less than ten minutes to reach the first dungeon.
I want to understand what Nintendo will add to the game to beef it up, as the original Link’s Awakening wasn’t exactly long, and the changes made to this remake will make it even easier to beat. We are already aware of the dungeon creator, truly a dream come true for hardcore Zelda fans such as myself, but I really want to know what else is going to be added. Since this game will be sold at full price, I imagine more additions are on the way.
All questions aside, I loved this demo. The Switch version of Link’s Awakening looks and sounds amazing and plays like a dream. I really can’t wait for the final version, not only to awaken the Wind Fish for the millionth time, but also to see if Nintendo will add more features to the game, just like they usually do in their remakes. Link’s Awakening will most certainly please not only fans of the original game, but also anyone who enjoys a good and charismatic adventure game.