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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Most games in the Legend of Zelda series follow a similar pattern: You're Link, you rescue Zelda, beat Ganon, and somehow the Triforce is involved. It's a pretty basic setup.

And yet, every once in a while, the series goes gloriously off the rails. Link's Awakening is one of those games. It's a weird, weird game, but a great entry in the series.

In Link's Awakening, you're Link, waking up on Koholint Island after a shipwreck. You can't leave the island unless you wake up something called the Wind Fish, and to do so you have to find eight musical instruments. There's no Zelda, no Ganon, no Triforce, a visit from a guy who looks like Mario, another one who looks like Wart, an enemy that looks like Kirby, and even Goombas and Piranha Plants in brief side-scrolling stages.

Obviously, Link's Awakening was a little different than other games in the series, but there was also another big reason: It marked the first time there were so many named NPCs running around Link's world. In Zelda II, there were lots of people running around in the cities, but only a few of them had names. In Link to the Past, there was a small town, but the people there were more window dressing than anything else.

In Link's Awakening, there are two towns, and each one has people with specific personalities. There's a fashion-loving Chain Chomp, a shy old man who only talks on the phone, a girl named Tarin who likes you, a man named Mr. Write who has a penpal on the other side of the island, and all sorts of other characters running around. That imbues the game with a lot more personality, which makes the final denouement that much more powerful.

The only flaw with Link's Awakening is that there are a few pieces of text that repeat themselves constantly. For example, whenever you walk up to a rock without the Power Bracelet equipped, you get a notice that "This rock looks too heavy to lift with your bare hands!" Every time you get a key, you get a notice that "This is a Small Key! You can use it to open a locked door in this dungeon!" The worst offender is the compass, which gives you screen after screen of text every single time you pick it up.

You also will have to switch out weapons frequently, which means you'll have to go to the pause menu, look at your weapons, switch them out, and then go back to the screen. It's not the end of the world, but considering how frequently you'll have to switch out weapons by the end of the game, it is a little annoying.

Link's Awakening is still great, and the Virtual Console version includes an extra dungeon and a person who takes pictures of Link during his adventures. It's a lot of fun and it's inexpensive. There's also a dungeon where you collapse one floor on top of another. That should convince you.

Final Rating: A