The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Review – Close To Flawless

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Link's Awakening




  • Classic Zelda title remade with glorious graphics and animations
  • An addictive story and one that you will enjoy playing time and time again
  • Take Zelda with your everywhere like the good old GameBoy days


  • An easy title compared to BOTW and might be over too quickly for some gamers

It’s time for my official Retro Dodo The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review, a review you can trust from an absolute Zelda nerd!

Every so often a game series will appear that defines a generation. Many of them differ depending on how old you are; think Crash Bandicoot, Solid Snake, Master Chief, etc. Some, however, endure over decades, enchanting new and old gamers alike with stories that don’t just last the test of time but sometimes end up controlling it too.

I am of course talking about The Legend Of Zelda series and the legendary hero of time himself, Link.

I have followed our favourite green-garbed hero on his adventures through Koholint, Hyrule, Outset Island and many more breathtaking worlds since I first held a SNES controller in my hands, and have gone on to enjoy playing updated versions of these classic titles on the Wii U, 3DS, and now the Nintendo Switch.

I’ve been working on this Review ever since the new game came out a couple of weeks ago, but the game has been that addictive I’ve found it hard to put the console down and start writing! I’ve got to a point where I’m stuck now, so now seems as good a time as any to let you know my thoughts on this classic remake!

(Review date 05.10.2019)

A Blast From The Past, But Should It Have Stayed There?

Link's Awakening Gameplay - Link on Koholint Island beach holding his sword

For those of you that haven’t played the original Link’s Awakening, we’re not going to judge you or tell you to go back and play it before reading this article. You’re here to check out the remake, so all your sins have been forgiven.

What we will say is that just because this is a remake it doesn’t mean that it is exactly the same game. There are some hidden extras and other elements that you won’t have on the original title, but the concept, storyline, and characters are all the same, although now they’re brought to life in amazing colour graphics with incredibly rich textures and animations.

Before I get cracking with thisng Review, let’s give you a little bit of back story into the title itself.

What Is Link’s Awakening?

This story comes after Ocarina Of Time in the official Zelda ‘Hero Of Time’ timeline but does not feature Princess Zelda or any mention of Ganondorf, The Triforce, or the Goddess Hylia. After a voyage in the ocean goes awry, Link’s boat is demolished by a fork of lightning.

He is washed up on the shores of Koholint Island, a new world in the Zelda series and one that seemingly has no connection with any of the other areas we know from previous games.

After being woken by a young girl named Marin, Link retrieves his sword and shield and sets off to find more about the island and the mysterious Wind Fish.

If you have never played the game before then I don’t’ want this to be the review that spoils what the Wind Fish actually is; all I’ll tell you is that it lives inside the big pink egg that you see on the title selection screen.

What Is The Gameplay Like?

Gameplay from Link's Awakening with Link firing a bomb at an enemy in the desert

Whether you’re playing in handheld mode on the new Nintendo Switch Lite or kicking back and enjoying the wonders of Koholint Island up on your TV, you’re sure to love the way this game handles.

Especially once you discover the updated features that Nintendo have added in after the success of Breath Of The Wild.

You might even notice that the font used for ‘Zelda’ on the title screen is exactly the same as BOTW; that’s a fact that you can tell your mates at parties.

Back to the review. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an avid gamer or a new player in the world of Zelda games, this remake has something for everyone.

If you’re used to the puzzles and trials in other classic titles or have recently smashed your way through Breath Of The Wild, then Link’s Awakening might be a little easier in comparison. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a go though, and there’s also a hard mode for you to tackle after you’ve completed the main story in normal mode. T

he storyline will have you hooked from the very first time a familiar flapping friend lands on the top of a nearby tree with a cheery ‘hoot’, and the thrill of getting new items to reach previously unreachable places will keep you coming back for more and more.

What Is Link’s Awakening Like To Play?

The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening gameplay - sample pic of the dungeon side view with Link jumping across stones held by chains

The controls are very similar to what you would expect from a classic Zelda Game; R Button for the shield, joystick for moving around etc, and the x and y selectable items are back too.

Link’s Awakening follows the same format as all of the other previous titles that you might have played pre Breath Of The Wild; items must be obtained in a set order in order to defeat bosses, opening up a predetermined path as you progress through the game.

Features like bottles for fairies and the world-famous Zelda trading sequence are essential if you want to complete the game properly, and there are tonnes of hidden elements that you need to find in true Zelda fashion.

Heart pieces can be collected to up your number of hearts as you progress through the game, along with a full container after you have defeated a boss at the end of a level.

The graphics in this remake make this version of Link’s Awakening so much more enjoyable to play. If you’re a chronological purist, then you might disagree with me, but the cheery round-faced characters and the new textures in the dungeons make the different areas easier to understand and navigate and generally more enjoyable to play.

While the game revolves around a ‘top-down’ view of your surroundings, the addition of side-scrolling sections such as the fishing game in Mabe Village and all of the underground passageways in the dungeons makes for a nice change to the normal method of play.

Revisiting The Characters

Mobiln boss in Link's Awakening gameplay

This is where my Link’s Awakening Review gets a little nerdier. You see, this title wasn’t originally supposed to be in the Zelda series.

It was designed with a different character in mind and then given the nod of approval from Shigeru Miyamoto once he saw the developers ideas in action. As such, there are a host of Nintendo bad-guys that would look more at home in the Mushroom Kingdom than in a Zelda title, which is a little weird, to say the least.

So far I’ve been put up against Goombas, Shy Guys, Bloopers, Cheep Cheeps and more, and they’re all a lot easier to kill with a sword than they are when jumping on them in blue dungarees.

Other Zelda classic enemies such as the Like Like Shield Eaters, Tektites, Stalfos, and Keese can be found while walking through the different worlds, as well as the original Moblins, the predecessors of the gangly club-wielding brutes in BOTW.

These ones look more like fat little pigs, but they can still put up a good fight and catch you off your guard.

Sample gameplay shot of The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening showing Link firing an arrow at a Moblin

Unlike BOTW, this Zelda title follows the ‘three-hit kill’ method of boss battling that we’ve seen in previous games in the series.

Like Queen Gohma and the dodgy looking crab under Valoo’s tail, three well-timed hits or three ‘stunned moments’ is usually all it takes to defeat a boss, but with the absence of that all-knowing health bar, I guess you can’t ever really be sure how many slashes you need to administer (I’m telling you, it’s three).

Are There Any New Features?

Gameplay still from my review of Link's Awakening - the map function has been upgraded with some useful features

I’m almost at the end of the game, so I want you to know that I’ve thoroughly tested out all of the new features in a bid to make this review as informative as possible.

I won’t give too much away in this next section, so don’t worry if you’ve not had a chance to slot your cartridge into your Switch just yet. The first notable feature is the map screen and the ability to pinpoint certain areas of interest with different symbols.

This idea was first brought to the Zeldaverse in BOTW and proved invaluable when heading back to get chests or shrines at a later date. Koholint Island is a lot smaller than Hyrule, but I’ve still used the symbols to map out where heart pieces and chests are and other objects that I haven’t been able to get until later on in the game.

Map It Out

The map also has a function where you can go back and relive memories of previous chats with important characters, so don’t worry if you weren’t paying too much attention at the time.

Seashells play a big part in Link’s Awakening and crop up throughout the game in a number of hidden places.

This is the touchiest subject in my findings because I still haven’t found them all yet, but it’s worth heading to the Seashell house at regular intervals to see if you get something nice for your collecting efforts.

There are more shells in the Switch version of the game than the original; what will you get if you collect them all?

Gameplay from Link's Awakening showing Link standing outside of the Seashell House

The compass, which Zelda fans will know is a tool that you can use to see all of the chests in a specific dungeon, plays a helpful tone when you walk into a room with a hidden chest inside.

This is super useful for when you’re looking for that last dungeon key and just can’t spot it anywhere. You might not realise that you have to defeat the hidden Chu-Chu in a jar in the corner of the room before the key drops down from the ceiling, but the helpful tone makes you check everywhere twice over in the search for your secret treasure.

Speaking of dungeons, another feature that didn’t appear on the original title is the Colour Dungeon, a tricky little challenge with multiple bosses that caused me to reach for bottled fairies a number of times.

I won’t tell you what you get from completing this, but it will definitely make your travels through Koholint island easier depending on your gameplay style.

My Final Verdict

It’s safe to say that I absolutely love what Nintendo have done with this remake, in fact, I’ve been thinking about cranking it up and playing on it ever since I sat down to write this article.

The music, the storyline, the characters; they all add to the games playability factor and bring back some of my favourite elements from previous Zelda titles.

I’ve given a score of 9.7 out of 10 for this Link’s Awakening Review. I want to give it 10, but there a couple of things that are stopping me from going the whole way.

As I mentioned above, if you’re coming from BOTW and hoping that Link’s Awakening will give you the same run-for-your-money, then you might be a little disappointed.

This game was made long before the technologies that allow for the epic maps that we have today, and as such it’s easier to play and most probably quicker to complete (unless you’re one of those people that went straight to defeat Gannon with a broom in BOTW and happened to come out unscathed).

If you’re looking for a quality game that you can play without too much thought or just want to relive a game from your youth, then Link’s Awakening is a must-have title.

Heck, it’s a must-have title full stop. If you complete it quickly, then you can pat yourself on the back and reward yourself by playing it all over again. That’s the best bit about Zelda titles; no matter how many times you’ve played them, you still can’t help but dive back in for more.

Will I Play It Again?

(Update 25.01.2023) Yes, and I actually have played it a whole bunch of times since I wrote this review on both normal and hard mode. While playing other games I always have Zelda on the go in some form, whether on the Switch, the N64, or the Wii U.

The great thing about Link’s Awakening is that it’s so easy to play and enjoyable to go through. There aren’t many games that I can go through again and again without getting bored, and yes, most of them are Zelda titles.

I think because it’s such a non threatening game, fun, colourful, and exciting to play with a storyline that you can just immerse yourself in, that playing it becomes more of a comfort than anything else.

Just like your favourite audiobook that you listen while going to sleep.

I much prefer the Switch version to the original too. Ok, I know I love retro games, but you just can’t deny that this game looks swish and is pleasing to the eye. I challenge you to not smile while playing this game!

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