This review covers both the original and DX versions of Link’s Awakening, since they’re virtually identical save for a few bonus things in the latter and its inability to use the skip screens cheat. There are also an insane amount of spoilers ahead, just in case you’re worried about the having the plot to a 1993 game spoiled.
The Legend of Zelda franchise is one of the oldest in gaming and has undergone several transformations in its many years, with Link’s Awakening being the first Zelda game to reach the Game Boy and provide fond memories for children of the world. My very first Zelda memory consists of me being forced to stay in some random building for reasons my young brain couldn’t yet comprehend, and I was stuck at the very beginning of this game while attempting to pass the time. At some point, a stranger actually helped me to progress the plot, and for the first time in my life I knew what it was like to want to stab someone for being better. That’s truly a lesson I carry with me, even today.
Stab lust aside, this is one of the greatest games ever. The whole development department for this game had to be tripping on some serious acid, because this game is weird. If you don’t believe me, allow me to explain the plot to you. Basically, the whole world exists as the dream of a fish, and you have to wake it up by assisting talking monkeys, fighting nightmare versions of villains from games past, and ultimately playing a bunch of instruments to wake it up. Rarely does the end of a game require the hero to possess the skill of one-man-bandedness, but luckily it’s a skill that Link has somehow picked up between repeatedly saving the same princess from the same jagoff.
At the end, you’re stranded on a piece of broken ship in the middle of the sea and the fish flies over you. Was it all really just a dream? I don’t know, ask someone else. I was a bit more concerned about my hero being stranded in the middle of the sea without a boat, but apparently being at a serious drowning/shark/starvation risk is a suitable ending for the family-friendly brand of entertainment Nintendo offers.
I love it. If you steal from the village store and then try to go back in, the shopkeeper doesn’t force you to pay. No, he murders you by shooting lightning from his hands and then permanently changes your name to “THIEF.” Now that’s hardcore.
Looking back, you kind of have a weird romantic thing with Marin, who of course ends up being little more than a figment of the fish’s imagination. Evidently, fish are capable of having complex, romantic dreams. Next time you eat seafood, remember this: that trout could have loved you.
Link’s Awakening is a bit like what you would get if you asked a schizophrenic homeless man to reenact scenes from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Is that a bad thing? Of course not. It’s a wonderfully insane game that’s worth every moment you spend on it.
Here’s what you should do: