One of Nintendo’s biggest giant franchises, there are no more precise sentences to explain what the Legend of Zelda is. Almost available on all platforms released by Nintendo, which are also sometimes designed in such a way as to make the most of whatever innovation they wish to offer, Legend of Zelda always appears as an adventure game that is ready to steal the hearts of any Nintendo gamer. Although it must be admitted, for gamers who are not too familiar with it, it feels, sounds, and looks like a franchise that has been consistently exploited by Nintendo. Though the last series – Breath of the Wild has become evidence that there is still a lot of potential that was born from the story of a Link’s heroism.
So like a series of Legend of Zelda that should be, you act as Link, an adventurer who suddenly stranded on a mysterious island called Koholint Island. He was found by a village girl named Marin who immediately took him to the house and took care of him until he was healthy again. The blood of Link’s adventure flared up as he began to rediscover his energy.
Link immediately tried to find a way to get out of Koholint Island, which, oddly enough, contained a giant egg in the middle of the island that resides on a high enough mountain. Rediscovering his sword that had been stranded on the beach, Link was suddenly visited by a mysterious owl who gave answers to one of the main questions that had plagued him since he woke up – how to get out of this island. The owl said that the only solution was to find and reclaim 8 different musical instruments scattered on the island.
That the 8 instruments must be used together in front of the giant egg of Kohonlint Island to awaken a monster named Wind Fish who dwells in it. As can be predicted, Link immediately performed the task as effectively as he could. Each of these instruments was not only stored in a dungeon, but also guarded by giant and scary monsters that must be defeated by Link. In the end, Link also couldn’t help but have to deal with his past.
Full of heart
Developing a Remake project on paper, is certainly not as difficult as struggling to mix an original game from the start. Especially if he really wants to be sold while maintaining a sense of nostalgia for gamers who had tasted the original series in the past. The same thing is maintained by Nintendo with this Link’s Awakening Remake. He is not as extreme as what Capcom is doing with Resident Evil 2 which comes with location simplification, changes in camera perspective, to injections of new elements in it. Link’s Awakening still carries what you know from its original series in 1993, but with a more modern presentation.
The result is a game that feels like an old Zelda taste, but now comes with a super cute look full of hearts. The visual approach offered by Nintendo here is indeed ready to make your heart touched. Not because the change of the world into three dimensions, but also the variety of redesigns that they offer for a variety of monsters to the human character that you meet, including Marin. Like a children’s three-dimensional cartoon to plastic toys, it looks cute while being supported by more modern elements, such as Link or Marin’s facial expressions that appear in several moments of the story. But fortunately, despite this heartbreaking design, you still won’t feel guilty about getting rid of those annoying monsters.
One of Nintendo’s other efforts to make it feel more modern also comes from the depth of field effect with the blur that is consistently present when you explore this Koholint island. Although the implementation itself is questionable because a blur system that is simply thrown at the top of the screen instead of representing a real-world perspective, for example, must be admitted, this approach does make Link’s Awakening look more dramatic. You will of course also meet a variety of visual effects as well as other Zelda’s latest series, from particle effects when you sow magical powders to their iconic animations when discovering new items. This is the modern Zelda you crave for.
But unfortunately, Nintendo does not seem to find a solution to the problem of framerate that still feels obvious. Although most of the dungeons can be passed by with a stable and comfortable framerate, this aspect will immediately “fall apart” when you are walking around the vast area of Koholint Island. These framerate ups and downs occur so often without clear triggers. Sometimes it can happen when you are just walking around, sometimes it is triggered when fighting against many enemies, sometimes it can be so drastic when you are just trying to clean the grass around. Waiting for at least 1 week after release to write this review apparently does not guarantee a quick update to resolve this super annoying technical problem.
Meanwhile in terms of music, there is nothing you need to worry about. As one of the elements that plays an important role for Link’s Awakening’s story and gameplay itself, you will still enjoy Zelda’s iconic music that is ready to make your adventurous spirit burn. Marin’s moment when singing to teach you one of the songs that you can repeat using your Ocarina is also presented with a style that still makes your heart touched and deserves to be appreciated at the same time.
So with all the combination of visual and audio side approaches offered, the remake of Link’s Awakening indeed takes it to a more modern level. Even to make us who have never enjoyed the original series, immediately fell in love. It also automatically creates so many old elements from the gameplay that it maintains, it automatically feels more modern at the same time.
Almost all gamers who had enjoyed the Legend of Zelda series in the past, especially in at least a few generations of consoles or handhelds seemed to have understood the kind of adventure game that he offered. It is not as complex as Breath of the Wild which even injects and takes the physics level to a higher level through mechanics that is even enough to facilitate rational choice, but it is still built on the same foundation. That your adventure is always focused on trying to complete a set of challenges, which sometimes also requires specific items to complete.
Armed with shields and swords, Link must survive on Koholint Island, which of course contains a variety of monsters with animated attacks, from just throwing you with a spear to flying and throwing at you a bomb that you must avoid. You can raise your Shield to defend against many types of attacks (except explosions), while swords – whether through slashes, punctures, spin attacks, until a running attack will hurt the enemy. Along with the journey, both from the exploration process or the item shopping system in the initial village, you can also get extra weapons such as bow arrows and boomerangs.
Then your adventure to find 8 instruments for the sake of waking up the Wind Fish comes in a format that is calculated linearly. Most of them will require you to complete specific dungeons which will usually also reward you with new items / equipment that normally open up the latest power access that now allows you to access areas that you could not visit before. There are dungeons that give you the ability to swim in deep water, there are dungeons that give you a grappling hook to cross a cliff, so that gives you a pegasus boot for super fast running that can be used as a platform for further leaps.
Then you also have to fight against so many enemies who live on Koholint Island and all the dungeons that you must visit. Almost all enemies can be defeated by using your sword swing, while others need arrows or boomerangs. But the most unique of course comes from boss battles that usually need a certain strategy rather than just cutting them down as fast as possible. There is a slime-shaped boss that you have to cut into two parts with a Pegasus Boots attack first, there are bosses that can only be subdued by throwing metal balls until they panic, and there are those that can be destroyed using just a bomb. Paying attention to how the boss works, testing all your weapons, and finding solutions to defeat them always leaves that satisfaction.
With these two combinations, Link’s Awakening might sound like a straightforward game that offers a short gameplay time. The good news? Not so. Koholint Island also contains a myriad of secrets and side missions that you are not required to complete, but will make it easier for you if you take the time. There is an opportunity to get an empty bottle that you can use to store fairies that are ready to recover your life in large enough portions. You are also chasing pieces of heart that, if collected as many as 4 pieces, will give birth to 1 new liver slot that serves as HP. Some even add capacity to the number of items you can carry.
Although “not necessarily” completed, not a few of these Koholint Island side missions that will offer something that is quite essential. One of the best examples is the boomerang. This throwing weapon can only be obtained if you successfully complete the side mission of exchanging goods between NPCs that are scattered along the Koholint island itself. But this busyness will feel appropriate when you start to enter the last few dungeons and find that some locations contain enemies that can be defeated with a range attack. Throwing a boomerang that in fact can not run out is certainly better to rely on a bow with limited arrows, especially in the middle of a world that is constantly regenerating enemies that you have subdued before.
With all these classic flavors, that doesn’t mean Nintendo doesn’t inject anything new. One of them comes in the form of “Zelda Dungeon Maker”, where you can build your own dungeon using blocks that you find throughout the game. We ourselves were interested in this mode but immediately ended with a big disappointment when we discovered that this mode ended like an online puzzle where you have to think and plan your dungeon design to be completed. Our hope is that you can try other dungeon gamers or let other gamers try your dungeon like Super Mario Maker 2 immediately ran aground with a sense of disappointment.
So with the vast world full of secrets to discover, boss battles that are unique and satisfying, and dungeon designs that offer their own challenges to master and learn, Link’s Awakening offers a classic Zelda taste that feels familiar. Clad in relevant modern visualization, it offers an exciting adventure that spoil the eyes.
So with all that Nintendo has to offer with Link’s Awakening, there is no reason not to fall in love with this series, especially if you are like us, including gamers who for the first time jumped into Link’s Awakening via this remake series. With super cute visual quality that spoil the eyes, iconic music that makes a burning spirit, a challenging dungeon ready to make frustration peak, until a satisfying boss fight, this is a classic taste of Zelda that should be but wrapped in a more modern presentation and relevant. One that made us quite surprised is the time of the gameplay that he stretches. Plunging into the “blind” without reading a lot of walkthroughs, trying to find a puzzle solution, moving to your next destination, to find the weak points of the boss you are fighting can actually take dozens of hours.
Even so, you seem to have understood that Link’s Awakening is not perfect. We ourselves are a little disappointed with the fact that the Zelda Dungeon Maker that he offered was not positioned like the Super Mario Maker’s level racic system. One other complaint also rooted in a technical problem, namely the framerate which surprisingly still occurred even when this review was written one week after it was officially released.
Once again Nintendo proves itself that they always have 1001 ways to offer a Legend of Zelda adventure to your table and it is still tempting to taste it, regardless of its shape, whatever its age, and whether you have a nostalgic sensation with it or not. After Breath of the Wild and Cadence of Hyrule, Link’s Awakening again confirmed the reason why many gamers around the world fell in love with Link’s adventures which in the end, it was always mixed with heart.
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