E3 2019 Preview | The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
It’s hard to believe that roughly 26 years later, Nintendo would be remaking Link’s Awakening. A true gem when it released on the Game Boy, it’s still considered a classic today. It even had a color release for the Game Boy Color with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. Now, Nintendo has remade the game with brand new visuals for the Nintendo Switch. Is it still a gem like it was 26 years ago? Well we had a chance to play it at E3 2019 and we can say the answer to that question is a definite yes.
Our demo starts out just like the original adventure. Link has become shipwrecked, washing ashore on Koholint Island where a girl named Marin finds him unconscious. Waking up in a bed, Link is shocked to see Marin and her father Tarin. Link confuses Marin as Princess Zelda, as this Link is the same from A Link to the Past. She corrects him and informs him of his situation, telling him where he is now. Link gets up from bed and with that, we’re given control. The first thing to do is to talk to Tarin, because he will give Link his shield. Not only is this handy for defending yourself, but it’s also used for early obstacles. With the shield in hand, Link can now leave the house.
By now, it should be pretty clear that the visual style was completely overhauled. Obviously being a Switch title, the use of 3D models is one key difference. The other is the new “toy-like” style, where Link and everything around him looks like a toy from a diorama. It’s an adorable art direction and it really makes things pop with nostalgic charm. One other major difference is that the screen follows the player the entire time. No longer does Link travel from section to section, as everything is just one big section now. Granted, sections do still apply in dungeons, as each room there will have its own challenge. It might take some getting used to, but it works well for this kind of game.
Moving on with our demo, we’re timed here, with only 20 minutes to do what we can. First on our list is to get our sword back. Working towards the South side of the island, I avoided several Octoroks and Leevers to make it toward a Sea Urchin to push with my shield. Finding the sword on the beach, a large owl flies down and begins talking to Link. He assumes Link to be the owner of the sword and tells him about a prophecy of someone who would wake the Wind Fish. With that, he then tells Link to head North to a Mysterious Forest to continue his journey. Taking up your sword, Link brandishes it proudly and you’re now equipped to protect yourself. This is also where the classic overworld theme starts to play, telling you this is a Zelda game.
Combat is pretty much the same as it always has been. Holding one button will raise your shield and the B button will attack with the sword. Holding the B button will have Link charge up a powerful spin attack. Though it never came to this point in my demo, the X and Y buttons are also free for equipped items. This is a new feature that the original didn’t have, as the Game Boy only had the A and B buttons. Working our way up to the Mysterious Forest, we’re again greeted by the large owl. For fans of the original, they’ll probably be happy to know that the dialogue seems to be identical. Lines that fans have likely memorized from repeated playthroughs will still feel just as familiar.
Knowing I was on a time limit, I made my way through the forest, fending off Moblins and trying to rush to find the Tail Key. Unfortunately, I jumped the gun and walked into the fog of the forest, a mysterious raccoon sending me elsewhere. I forgot that I needed to go a different direction, entering a cave in a log. Taking the correct route, I walk across cracked floors that crumble if you stand on them for too long. Fighting off Keese bats, I was able to make my way through with ease, continuing my path till I found a toadstool. One thing to note about Link’s Awakening is that a lot of the game is a trade fetch quest. Several items will be used to trade for another to progress through the story. This case is no different, taking the toadstool to the nearby Witch’s hut.
After taking the toadstool to the Witch, she’ll reward you with some magic powder. That powder is required to turn that pesky raccoon back into a human, so that’s exactly where I went. Returning to the raccoon, I used the powder and sure enough, he turned into Tarin. Regaining his senses, the fog of the forest dissipates and we’re able to proceed to the Tail Key. This key would help us gain access to the Tail Cave, the first dungeon of the game. Making my way South to the cave, I defeat more foes and pick up special acorns. Link’s Awakening was special for having two power-ups, the guardian acorn for defense, and the piece of power for offense. These power-ups display differently, using a blue or red aura, which is a nice presentation upgrade.
Arriving at the Tail Cave, I use the key and enter the first dungeon. Dungeons in these games are a bit more simple, but at the same time, they require more puzzle solving. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it two rooms in before my demo ended. Either way, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a delightful adventure on the Nintendo Switch. It’s still going to be interesting to see what justifies the full price tag, but I’m still game to take on this adventure all over again. With content like the Color Dungeon, surely Nintendo has more in store for this title. Link’s Awakening will be available on September 20th.