First off, full disclosure, this is my first time through this game. I know, I know, Shame on me. Yes, All the Shame on me.
Secondly, once you’ve lived through the amazing years of Zelda games, how do you go back and play something most likely deemed inferior in many ways; in fact, if one system producing a Zelda game would be looked at as possibly the worst system ever to have a Zelda game on, it would be Game Boy. But, as I played, I found I shockingly liked this game, not as much as a lot of it’s predecessors but still enough to say, so far, it’s the best Game Boy game of all time.
This is a strange Zelda game, but a progressive one; it’s a weird hybrid of the NES versions and what Link to the Past would become, it melds the art styles of the top-down open world view, with the more animated look of Link to the Past, while dashing in quite a bit of Mario inside.
The quest has to do with finding these 8 special items that will awaken the Wind Fish who will send him home, as you find yourself shipwrecked onto a strange island that is not Hyrule, but has a lot of the same monsters and secret dungeons that place does. The game is set up in that maze like structure the original 2 games are where you are traveling around the map accessing different points to gain entry to certain areas as certain times. There are so many puzzles and secrets that I honestly know I didn’t find them all and at times, I needed the magic of the Internet to find my way.
The music, as classic as ever and doesn’t sound as bad as you would think on this platform; the graphics are the one thing that hurts this game; Zelda becomes a place of color and wonder in it’s later years and this game is just gray and it hurts it. Kahlint Island is not memorable because it’s completely washed out.
The gameplay is classic Zelda and preps you to face the sturdy challenges Link to the Past would provide as you move forward. There’s a real cheekiness to this story though and like with Super Mario Bros. 2, which was a dream, remember, this game knows you’re not in Hyrule and has fun with it; I mean, there are Mario references everywhere! You make friends with a Chain Chomp, you collect a Yoshi stuffy, even King Wart shows up! And that’s not the end of the strangeness happening; you talk through owl statues and telephones as well; even a friendly walrus makes an appearance.
I don’t know if Link’s Awakening is anyone’s “true Zelda game” but it sure is a boatload of fun and is damn challenging in many respects. It’s worth the experience to give it a try and grade it for yourself, if for nothing else than to complete your own personal rankings of the Zelda games (come on, if you’re a true gamer, you know you have one!)
Playability/ Controls- 8.5
Replay Value- 7.5