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Kavawuvi

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Nintendo Switch game review; no spoilers)

Before you read, note that I did play a little bit of the GBC version of the game, but only up until the first dungeon. All of my other knowledge of the GB/GBC version game comes from watching gameplay. However, I did beat the Nintendo Switch version. Also, this review contains no spoilers.

 

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a remake of a game of the same name from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color era, featuring the traditional top-down perspective from classic 2D games like it. The main difference is that everything is presented in 3D, kind of like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the Nintendo 3DS except with a toy-like art style. The original game is, indeed, a classic, with the cruft of classic games that go along with it, and this remake is no different.

 

Premise

 

Link wakes up on an island. To leave the island, he must wake up the Wind Fish. To do this, he has to defeat all of the Nightmares and obtain all of the Instruments of the Sirens. To do this, he has to beat all of the dungeons, similar to most other Legend of Zelda games. Unlike most other Legend of Zelda games, Zelda is absent from the entire game, even in the ending.

 

Dungeons

 

Dungeons play very similarly to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You have to find keys, solve puzzles, obtain items, and find the Nightmare Key to finally unlock the door to the boss of the dungeon. Some dungeons also have mini-bosses which provide a fair challenge, but to obtain the Instrument, you must defeat the boss (the Nightmare). Unlike A Link to the Past, dungeons contain subsections that involve 2D platforming.

 

Items

 

In addition to obtaining items inside dungeons, Link must obtain items outside of dungeons in order to progress. Much of the content is completely optional, such as three bottles (captures and holds fairies - Link's only manual healing item), two tunic upgrades (reduces damage taken), heart pieces (increases maximum health for every 4 pieces), the Boomerang (ranged attack like the bow), and medicine (heals Link to full health if he dies - fairies do NOT do this unlike ALttP). I managed to complete the game with the starting green tunic, 15 hearts, one bottle, only half the seashells, and no boomerang.

 

Some required items must be found outside of the dungeon, including the Bow which is sold at the shop for an obscenely high price. You can steal from the shop, but if you do, your name gets permanently changed to "THIEF" and the shopkeeper will instantly kill you the next time you visit the shop regardless of if you have medicine, though he won't kill you when you re-visit after that. Note that there is a secret ending that you can see if you survive without dying, so maybe don't steal from him. You also have to go through a trading quest where you have to obtain an item and trade between different NPCs throughout a good part of the story.

 

There are also other collectibles: seashells, figurines, and dungeon tiles. Seashells are used for obtaining items from the Seashell Mansion. Figurines are used to decorate rooms, and there are many of them - some of them are Mario universe cameos. Dungeon Tiles are used for Chamber Dungeons. If you want to 100% the game, there's obviously a lot to stuff to find. If you hate doing this stuff, though, then this game isn't too hard on doing this stuff if you just want to beat the game.

 

Chamber Dungeons

 

Chamber Dungeons are a new feature of the game (the "gimmick"), and this consists of a simple dungeon editor. This dungeon editor allows you to place rooms you've collected into one big dungeon. You can do things like make a boss rush dungeon or a place to get money at a steady rate. Like regular dungeons, each dungeon needs to have a Nightmare for you to defeat in order to win. Doing any of this is completely optional, but you can obtain some rewards for doing so. Unfortunately, you can only place premade rooms. You can't create rooms, and the amount of control is limited. Also, you can't share dungeons.

 

 

Game Controls

 

Also, the game controls are interesting to say the least. Before, every action that didn't involve moving or interacting had to be bound to either A or B, but this game changed it so the sword (attacking), shield (blocking), power glove (grabbing), and pegasus boots (dashing) are always usable. I wish they expanded upon this and made the Roc's Feather (jumping) permanently bound to a button, too, as I found that I had this item bound for most of the game anyway, but this is still a very nice change.

 

This game uses 8 directional movement, which is perfect for the D-pad. Unfortunately, the D-pad does nothing in-game, and instead, the left analog stick is used. They really should have used the D-pad or at the very least both for movement, instead.

 

Art style

 

As I said before, this game has a sort of toy-like aesthetic to it. Plenty of things have a slight shine to it as if it was made out of plastic. At first, I thought it was strange to look at, but it kind of grew on me. In my opinion, this game overall does it well, but the depth of field effect can be a little overboard.

That said, it does sometimes stay with the original source material a little too much. The game is still a sort of grid-like system, which while it does copy the original game, I think it copies it a little too well. For example, many pits you can fall in are still circular shaped tiles like in the original game when they could be actual connected pits. This doesn't detract from the game in my opinion, but I wouldn't have complained if they changed this.

 

The game has also been changed so a lot of places take up more than one screen with the camera following Link in a sort of bounding box, such as in the overworld or in some of the dungeon rooms. Otherwise, many dungeon rooms take up one space with the camera at a fixed position until Link goes to a different room. The game handles this well, in my opinion.

 

Music

 

This game features an orchestral version of the original sound track. There is a small variety of music in the game depending on where Link is or what he is doing, including music for each dungeon. In my opinion, I think it all complements the visuals very well, but I recommend you listen for yourself.

 

 

How well does it run?

 

Since it's a console game, you might be wondering if it runs poorly. It doesn't run poorly, but it isn't flawless. This game runs at 60 frames per second with a dynamic resolution, and I personally appreciate this. The dynamic resolution scaling is sometimes noticeable, but only for a moment when you're entering rooms, so it's not really intrusive. Unfortunately, the game can intermittently drop to 30 frames per second when going between different locations. For example, if you are inside a house and you go outside, or if you're going from the outskirts to a desert or a forest, it can drop in frame rate momentarily. There is also one area in the game, a swamp, where the game does not run at 60 frames per second the entire time. It is important to note that I exclusively played this game in portable mode, but people who have played this game with their Switch docked have encountered the same exact issues.

 

I recommend watching Digital Foundry's review of the game if you want more information on performance, as they did an excellent performance analysis (the performance analysis is at 15:25).

 

 

Conclusion

 

Overall, despite the few issues the game has, this is a great game, and if you're a fan of The Legend of Zelda series, I highly recommend picking this up if you have a Nintendo Switch.

 

Is it was worth the $60? For what you get, it's no Breath of the Wild, but you can sink a lot of hours into this game on just finding all of the items, and the main story isn't exactly short. Perhaps if you're into completing the game, maybe! However, if you want to get this, you could buy a used copy or wait for it to go down in price if you want to buy a retail copy. However, there are plenty of games out there that have a similar amount of content which cost much less than $60, so keep that in mind.

 

Pros

  • Lots of new content
  • Improves upon the original game without straying from the original source material
  • Excellent soundtrack
  • Runs at 60 FPS

Cons

  • Analog sticks should not be used for digital input
  • No option to turn off depth of field
  • Some performance issues
     

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I've seen gameplay and the depth of field kills it for me. I can't watch someone play with that going on.

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Even though there's multiple buttons bound can you still only perform two actions at once?

 

I don't know what to think of the screen changes either. In the original game there are certain dungeons, for example, where even though there's one big room they still break it up into something like a 2x2 of screens and if they just made it one big bounded room it would not necessarily make it better. Did they make those changes very selectively from a gameplay perspective or was it pretty much everywhere?

 

Also, there's pretty brief sidescrolling portions in the original game. Are those still there too?

 

I'm a massive fan of the original game and played it on the original gameboy. It's literally the first game I ever played. I go back every few years and play it on emulator. I debated getting a switch just for this game lol.

Edited by Sunstriker7

Kavawuvi: one of these days these glutes are gonna squawk all over you

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40 minutes ago, Sunstriker7 said:

Even though there's multiple buttons bound can you still only perform two actions at once?

You can only bind two items, but you always have access to pegasus boots, shield, and sword.

 

Quote

I don't know what to think of the screen changes either. In the original game there are certain dungeons, for example, where even though there's one big room they still break it up into something like a 2x2 of screens and if they just made it one big bounded room it would not necessarily make it better. Did they make those changes very selectively from a gameplay perspective or was it pretty much everywhere?

Most rooms use a fixed camera just like before. It's only the overworld and a few larger rooms which use the bounding box camera, instead.

 

Quote

Also, there's pretty brief sidescrolling portions in the original game. Are those still there too?

Yes. The layout of everything is mostly the same as the original game.

 

Quote

I'm a massive fan of the original game and played it on the original gameboy. It's literally the first game I ever played. I go back every few years and play it on emulator. I debated getting a switch just for this game lol.

I don't know if I'd buy a Switch just for it, but it is a really good game. Maybe check out Digital Foundry's review as they do a good overview of the technical aspects, if you're interested.

 

 

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I ended up deciding against it at the time being because i need to afford other things right now but it's on my radar still. Thanks for the good review man.

Kavawuvi likes this

Kavawuvi: one of these days these glutes are gonna squawk all over you

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7 hours ago, ShikuTeshi said:

I've seen gameplay and the depth of field kills it for me. I can't watch someone play with that going on.

I sort of agree. Being able to turn off or at least tone down the depth of field would be really nice. It doesn't ruin the experience for me, but it is a little excessive in my opinion. Also, again, analog sticks are being made to do what the directional pad does 100x better.

 

This is a great game, but I think they should address these things in a patch. Every other problem I have with the game that I can think of, besides the frame rate issues, isn't necessarily the remake's fault.

 

5 hours ago, Sunstriker7 said:

I ended up deciding against it at the time being because i need to afford other things right now but it's on my radar still. Thanks for the good review man.

No problem. You might be able to pick up a used copy in a few years from now for a good price. I get plenty of cheap stuff off of eBay and Amazon this way.

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18 hours ago, Kavawuvi said:

Every other problem I have with the game that I can think of, besides the frame rate issues, isn't necessarily the remake's fault.

Well hey there now buddy, what about this? I want to hear this stuff too. We have spoiler tags.


Kavawuvi: one of these days these glutes are gonna squawk all over you

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