Visiting the past: Link’s Awakening

My first Zelda game was Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy. I didn’t really know what it was, but the box with a sword and shield on it seemed to be enough to make me want it.

Bearing in mind I was 10 at the time, I had a love for the Zelda series kick-started and it’s been going strong for 24 years.

Of course Ocarina of Time was released when I was a little order, and totally blew me away. But 10-year old me adored my adventures with Link and this big egg thing at the top of a mountain.

I have vivid memories of it, particularly of the day my youngest brother was born whilst I was doing a boss (inconsiderate little git). But I don’t recall completing it, or really what the hell was going on.

Now here we are with a re-make on Nintendo Switch and suddenly I’m able to play through it, pay attention to what the hell is going on, and take it in on a whole different level.

 

Hazy recollection

I had hoped to review Link’s Awakening as a remaster, and talk about how different it is or how much it sticks to the core of the original. But I can’t do that with any level of sincerity, because it turns out that I remember very little.

What’s worse is the bits that I do remember aren’t even Zelda staples. I remember chain-chomps and goombas. Link’s Awakening features Mario-related enemies and somehow, apart from our good pal Link, I’m mostly surprised at every turn.

That’s great though, I’m having one of those rare moments where I get to experience something I love for the first time, again.

How I can claim to have loved it all of these years is beyond me. I have fond memories of playing it, enjoying it, and getting quite far. I remember vividly getting 5 or 6 of the instuments, and things like the hookshot and bow.

It all seems like a dream now, and maybe that’s why I love it so much, because who doesn’t like a nice dream?

Replaying Link’s Awakening has very quickly become Ben’s Awakening as I start from scratch and make my merry way. It’s a great position to be in, and I feel like I’m learning everything from scratch.

Hopefully some things will pop in and out of my memory, but if they don’t, it’s ok. I’m having a blast starting over.

Link;s Awakening
 

Modern take

So here we are, I’m playing Link’s Awakening for the second time, but like it’s the first time, and goddamn…..this is a pretty little game.

Gone are the old black lines on a green screen, and here we are with this shiny, plastic-like, bright and colourful version of the game. It looks bloody lovely. All very cute, but the attention to detail is exceptional.

There’s nothing here that hasn’t been remade and crafted for the new version of Link’s Awakening.

The music takes me back, and I get to hear some of those amazing recurring themes from the series. I’m often caught humming away as I mover around the map, chopping grass for rupees.

I remember Mabe Village well enough, and walking through the old neighbourhood is a pleasure. Especially all re-made. I guess it looks better than my imagination had considered back in the day.

What an absolute joy it is to play. Nostalgia mixed with a lovely re-design and re-working of the music to modernise it.

Zelda heaven. 10-year old me is having a great time right now, but so is 34-year old me, too.

 

Cracking on

So, yeah. I have fond memories of something I don’t really remember.

It’s pretty and sounds great. All I have to do now is get beyond where I managed as a youth and see what Link’s Awakening has to offer someone in 2020.

2 instruments down, and ready with my trusty sword and shield, I’m taking everyone down.

Oddly, I’ve found myself puzzled on occasion, already. Now, there’s no way 24 years ago I was referring to the internet for help, so how I worked stuff out, I’ll never know. I’ve been wracking my brain over the most ridiculous things.

Link’s Awakening is very much an old-school top-down adventure and it doesn’t really lead the player through the game holding your hand. I love that. I’m having to work out what the hell is going on and where I’m supposed to go.

The only real issue I’ve found so far is that the frame-rate seems to drop quite drastically on occassion. Perhaps the graphical style is a bit intense for the GPU on the Switch? I feel like that’s unlikely when you look at games like Breath of the Wild of The Witcher 3, but there’s definitely something going on.

I’m dipping in and out of Link’s Awakening whilst I write bits on PUBG and some hardware stuff for FullSync. I can feel this becoming my go-to game in the next few week whilst I try to unwind.

I can’t wait to get fully stuck-in!

 

What to expect

I’m not really sure what else I’m going to write about Link’s Awakening. A half review of the game itself, and a half review of the latest take on it.

I can’t compare them both too thoroughly, but I can try, and I can play through looking for my fragmented memories scattered across dungeons.

It’s a blessing really, and I’ll be making sure to take down all the joys and woes of a game I’ve long held-up as the starting point for my love of the Legend of Zelda series.

Link’s Awakening is looking like a little gem for me to take everywhere I go thanks to the portable Switch. I’m really lucky to be get the chance to re-live it, and I’m taking the opportunity to do so with excitement and a little bit of hope that it’s as good as I made it out to be for so long.

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