Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Game Boy

Review by Review Contest 2003!



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

The Legend of Zelda: Linkís Awakening is the 4th installment in one of the best selling game franchises of all time and was both produced and developed by Nintendo for their Game Boy portable system. The game launched in August 1993 and then became available as a pack-in game with the original Game Boy system.

Taking into consideration the limitations of the Game Boy system, the developers managed to pack a lot of fine detail and intricate design into such a tiny screen. In addition, all images, sprites, and backgrounds are perfectly crisp, clear, and distinguishable unlike most games from the Game Boy generation.

However, as good as the graphics are, they still could be improved upon. The black and white screen makes it difficult to focus in on blurred objects. For example, one of the bosses fades out and spins rapidly around the screen. It is hard to pinpoint its location quickly. This is most difficult to see on the original Game Boy with the yellow-green screen. If you are playing on a backlit system such as the Super Game Boy or Game Boy Advance SP, this problem is not as prevalent.

Though hampered with the hardware limitations of monaural sound, the game still manages to pass the bar. The sound effects themselves are great and plentiful. For example, there are different and distinguishable sound effects swinging your sword, sprinkling magic powder and even a scream as Link plummets to his death after falling in a hole. With a few exceptions, the sound effects are very crisp and clear. Though the music is clearly a digital MIDI, it is complex enough to rival that of a live orchestration. The best examples of this music are when playing the learned songs on your ocarina.

So what could be improved upon? There arenít that many themes. As good as they are, they do tend to get boring. This could have easily been improved upon by adding a few more tracks.

The game has a remarkably huge over world map, especially for being a portable game. But in addition to having a big over world, the dungeons are big too, leaving lots of room for exploration. In addition, you also have your puzzles to figure out. While most of them arenít terribly difficult, they can be looked upon as having two parts: figuring out what to do, and then figuring out how to do it, all just adding to the challenge.

However, I was disappointed in the lack of side quests. There is a fishing game, a trading sequence, a river rafting game, and a collection goal that are optional, but thatís about it. That being said, there are a few mini missions built into the story line that must be accomplished to proceed further in the game.

Overall, the game is relatively easy to control. The direction pad lets you move around, and the A and B buttons control your items. The benefits are that you can move diagonally, and that you can set ANY item to EITHER A or B button. You are no longer forced to always use your sword if you donít want to! Unfortunately, you actually have to select your shield to use it. Some things can be a little difficult to do though. For example, picking up things on conveyor belts and throwing things at enemies. You will get accustomed to this as you play the game.

Link destroyed Ganon and has gone on a voyage in search of enlightenment. However while at sea, his became caught in a terrible storm. Link wakes up on Koholint Island to a girl who looks and sounds remarkably like Zelda, but isnít. Later, an owl tells Link that all will be answered once he awakens the Wind Fish. Thus, your quest begins.

I wonít divulge into the story anymore for fear of spoiling it for those have not yet played the game. However, I will say that it is rather unique. For the most part, it is relatively simple and quite straightforward. For that, I am a little disappointed because I prefer storylines that make me think. You get small bits and pieces throughout the game, just enough to drive you forward, but it really doesnít unfold until the end. This may bother some gamers.

The game is rather linear and is easy to get 100% on the first time through. Also, once you know how to solve the puzzles, and know what is going to happen in the story, the game loses some of its flair. All that being said, I still find it fun to dust off the game every few years and play through it again once I have forgotten everything.


In 1998, Nintendo re-released this game as Linkís Awakening: DX for the Game Boy color.

The game is inherently the same as the original, but new things have been added, the most obvious being color. As the box art says, there is a new dungeon! It is extremely short and you get to choose a bonus item that will help you in your quest. Iím not saying what it is, but it does make the game a bit easier.

A mini quest was also added! A photographer has set up shop and will follow you around to take pictures. The hard part about this is that once you miss a photo opportunity, itís gone forever, making 100% completion very difficult! The cool thing about this is that you can dust off your much never used Game Boy Printer, link up, and print your photos! A new sub screen was also added that would tell you how many heart pieces, pictures, etc. you have gotten. If you havenít bought the game yet and have a Game Boy Color, Advance, or Player, this game is definitely the way to go!

Easter Eggs!

There arenít many in this game. In fact I only know of one: If you beat the game without dying, Marin will be flying around in the end scene instead of a seagull.


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Last updated: Sunday, February 08, 2004 12:43 PM