Legend of Zelda has been a franchise that I have gravitated to since the days of SNES. Firing up Link to the Past for the first time, I had no idea how this franchise would impact my life moving forward. Yet for all my journeys to Hyrule and beyond I have never actually had the opportunity to play through Link’s Awakening. In fact, I never owned a Nintendo Handheld until the 3DS and so missed out on so many of Link’s incredible adventures.
So when a Link’s Awakening remake was announced for Nintendo Switch and hoping to right what I would consider a travesty, I happily strapped on my sword and shield and set sail for Koholint Island. After several hours of exploring all that Link’s Awakening had to offer I’m ready to share my thoughts on this remastered title. So grab that coffee, kick back and enjoy our review of Legend of Zelda - Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch.
Taking a step off the beaten path, Link’s Awakening introduces you to the Island of Koholint through a beautifully crafted cinematic introduction. After this brief intro, Link awakens to find himself in a foreign land with no idea what’s going on. The story follows Link as he explores the Island looking for a way home. Soon into the adventure, Link discovers the dangers and plight the island inhabitants face and sets up to help. The story unfolds in classic Zelda fashion with rolling text boxes and great (and sometimes silly) moments of dialogue between characters as you navigate the world.
Speaking of the world, Link’s Awakening has been reimagined from the ground up for the Switch. Developers Grezzo and Nintendo EPD have done an incredible job of blending the classic game with some modern convenience culminating in a beautiful, rich Zelda experience. The graphical overhaul looks stunning and both the world and dungeons are a joy to explore.
The game does do a lot of hand-holding using everything from an owl that likes to push the narrative forward, to a recluse that will drop hints if you call him up from phone booths scattered throughout the world. While the latter is optional, that owl will not be stopped. If you are used to the freedom that Breath of the Wild offers than just be prepared when going into Link’s Awakening.
Functionally it is worth noting that the game does suffer from some frame rate issues in the open world. This was most notable in areas with large amounts of water on the screen which may have contributed to the issue. It wasn’t a game-breaking issue by any means but did happen pretty consistently while playing. Despite this, however, Awakening is a visual masterpiece and still plays exceptionally well.
The controls have been redesigned for the switch thanks to the modern use of more than three buttons. This mean that unlike the original, the remaster leverages the X and Y buttons so that you can always have two items equipped at any one point. This means less time in menus and more time in the thick of the action.
Combat is a delight and feels tight and responsive on the Switch. The ability to block and move at the same time makes combat feel fluid and natural and allows for some great strategy when engaging enemies. This coupled with the aforementioned button mapping means navigating the world, engaging enemies and exploring feel modern and fresh.
The dungeons in Link’s Awakening are a fun affair and definitely point back to the era in which the original title was created. Puzzles are fun and for the most part pretty straight forward with a few creative exceptions. Boss battles follow the Zelda formula of finding the weakness and hacking said weakness until it stops moving. On the surface, it may seem a little more basic than some of the newer titles in the franchise but it fits well with quicker play sessions that tend to be associated with playing on the Switch. Overall I found it to be a great experience.
The game also introduced a new Dungeon builder mechanic that I have not seen in a Zelda title before. As you play through the game you’ll come across a character that will introduce you to the mechanic and then task you with exploring dungeons in the world to unlock new set pieces for the dungeon builder. It helps create an incentive for replay and re-entering already completed areas.
The dungeon builder itself if functional if not a bit limited in what it can do. Rooms are separated based mostly on their entry points and some rooms are locked down and cannot be moved. It essentially becomes a game of connecting the dots as you place rooms together to try and incorporate the pre-determined rooms. It is definitely not the most advanced map creator but it is still great to dive in and explore the dungeons you have created.
Legend of Zelda - Link’s Awakening is great remake of the classic. Beautiful visuals, updated controls and an added Dungeon builder all breath new life into the title. Despite some frame rate issues, the game is a blast to play through and worth picking up not only if you love Zelda but also for those looking for an easy point of entry into the franchise.
- Beautiful Visuals
- Modern controls
- Great combat
- Frame rate issues
- Dungeon Designer is okay but could be better
- That Owl though