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Review: The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch

Every longtime Nintendo fan remembers their first experience with Game Boy. For me, it was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The game was originally released back in 1993 — more than two decades ago. It also happened to be the first handheld installment of The Legend of Zelda, serving as a non-traditional sequel to a timeless classic, A Link to the Past. Fast forward to 2019, a full-blown remake is now in our midst.

Akin to all Zelda titles, you don’t need to play previous entries in order to enjoy Link’s Awakening, but series fans are bound to appreciate it more. The game is arguably the most different out of the bunch. There’s no Hyrule, Princess Zelda is MIA and the Triforce is nowhere to be found. Instead, the main setting is called Koholint Island. In an attempt to escape this mysterious place, it’s your task to find a total of eight different musical instruments to awaken the Wind Fish, which is said to have the answers you seek. That’s basically the gist of it; in typical Zelda fashion, the core focus is on gameplay by way of combat and puzzle solving.


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Despite being a reimagining, Link’s Awakening is the first Zelda title that was built from the ground up for Nintendo Switch. In many ways, the art style and top-down view resembles A Link Between Worlds, but Link’s Awakening is leaps ahead in terms of visual prowess. It’s not a conventional 3D game like Majora’s Mask or Breath of the Wild, but everything looks so crisp, especially on a larger HD screen. Right when you start your adventure, you realize the amount of detail placed throughout the world. Homes look liveable; towns are bustling with locals; and varied environments look fluid.

Link’s Awakening is by no means the biggest Zelda game, but it doesn’t fall short of things to offer. There are several towns to visit, numerous collectibles to find, multiple secrets to unfold, fun minigames to tackle and various paths to take in order to cover all the bases. And, as the cherry on top, slicing through tall grass is more addictive than ever. You’ll fly through early dungeons and puzzles, but things get increasingly more difficult as you make progress. For those looking for a guaranteed challenge, you can select hard mode right off the bat. But don’t say we didn’t warn you; Game Over screens are imminent if you choose to go this route.


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Link’s Awakening also serves as a fitting tribute to classic Nintendo via nods to iconic franchises like Super Mario and Kirby. You’ll come across recognizable faces along the way, friends and foes alike. NES and SNES fans will feel right at home, but if you didn’t grow up with either of those platforms (your poor childhood), you won’t feel out of place as all elements are designed to feel natural to the player.

There’s a brand-new feature called the Chamber Dungeon, which is helmed by the gravekeeper Dampé. You’ll eventually cross paths with him, and he’ll teach you how to compile your own dungeons. You’ll acquire dungeon rooms — also known as Chambers — as you clear actual dungeons throughout the main story. These Chambers can be arranged into custom layouts in the Chamber Dungeon, where you’ll be able to test them out for yourself.


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However, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before — the Chambers are exact replicas of the rooms you already trekked through with the same enemies, chests and hazards. They tend to easily feel repetitive. You don’t essentially have to go through them, but completionists may feel pressured to in order to unlock everything. While the Chamber Dungeon gives you some editing and creative power, it pales in comparison to something more fleshed out like Super Mario Maker. Needless to say, don’t go into it expecting a “Zelda Maker” of some sort.

Link’s Awakening has always been a super-solid entry in the Zelda series, and it easily lives up to today’s standards. It’s also a love letter to some of Nintendo’s greatest in its purest form. To top it all off, it has an alluring soundtrack with familiar tunes — including Marin’s soothing voice — that instantly warm your heart.


A review copy of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.

22 thoughts on “Review: The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch”

      1. It’s weird to think that we’re getting this game. At least where I’m from people never cared or said this game was bad. It’s about time this game gets the attention it deserves!

  1. Cool review and that score seems perfect.
    I’ve been racing through link to past in the build up to this game and even today that game is incredible.
    Think il be going straight into this one in hard mode. Can’t wait!

  2. I’m super excited! I owned it on my gameboy. Played it on my little brother’s gameboy color. Played it a few times in emulation, through the years. Can’t wait to experience it now in this version! Not to sound greedy, but maybe a remake/reimagining of Oracle of Ages/Seasons will be in the cards? Possibly making it the full triforce trilogy? Three games instead of two. I can always dream!

    1. While I doubt we will ever get a third Oracle game, a remake of Ages and Seasons would be great. And imagine, by having both games sharing a save slot, you could skip the annoyingly long codes.

  3. While I love this game, and played the @#$& out of it in both original and DX versions, I think I may wait a little while before I get it. For $60 there are other games I want to get.

    But let us not forget, they did say that if dungeon building was popular enough, they would consider making a true Zelda Maker.

  4. How come there is no mention of the frame rate issues? specifically in handheld mode? I was planning on purchasing a switch lite and this game in the morning but now I am second guessing the purchase. Curious about the reviewers thoughts…….

    1. I played mainly in TV mode while the Switch was docked and didn’t notice significant drops overall. Drops sometimes occur both in TV and handheld modes, particularly when a lot is happening on the screen, but things usually pick back up pretty quickly and doesn’t deter from the experience IMO.

  5. “NES and SNES fans will feel right at home, but if you didn’t grow up with either of those platforms (your poor childhood)”

    Lol, I thought I was the only one that felt like this! My kids tell me most of their peers play Fortnite and Minecraft these days so I’m glad that Links Awakening is coming out for Switch because Breath of the Wild was to hard for my boy (6 years old at the time). Now he’s 8 and much better at gaming and figuring stuff out so I hope he’ll enjoy Links Awakening and maybe build up to giving BOTW another go.

    Great review but I was wondering. Is the Japanese version of the Song of the Wind fish shown on the TV ad anywhere in this game ? The song sounds hauntingly beautiful that way and was wondering if it was in or just in the ad. Anyway, nice review again 👍

    1. Thank you! This game’s a more than suitable intro to the series, so it’s a great place to start for your kid 🙂 looks like the the song with lyrics was made specifically for the Story Trailers :/ but both versions are indeed beautiful!

    1. Probably also due to the very short length and quite easy difficulty, don’t you think ? You can finish the story in 8 hours in a very casual playthrough…

  6. I’ll wait for a major price drop.

    I already played the GBC version nine years ago. There’s little reason for me to do it all over again. But at least it’s an actual Legend of Zelda game this time.

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