Review of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - a modern oldschool with respect to the original

Author: Przemysław Zamęcki
Date: 2019-09-25 11:58:00
The review was based on the Switch version.

Although in the nineties of the last time, many of Poland became a "Pegazus", to the awareness of Polish players who were in love with Contra , Tanks or Super Mario Bros. The one-of-a-kind, unique game, The Legend of Zelda, hardly broke through. I am not going to look for the reasons for this, maybe it was simply the lack of availability of this title on Chinese cartridges (at that time I was an Amiga player with only the tip of my nose), but the fact is that in the reception of such titles as the new version of Link's Awakening , few of us will be driven by nostalgia.

The situation is completely different in Anglo-Saxon countries, where the Game Boy title, released in 1993 for the "pocket", has been enjoying the status of a cult production for twenty-five years and one of the best installments of Link's adventures in general. So I won't say that with trembling knees I was tearing the foil off the box of the recently released remake, but I certainly felt the importance of the moment. Come strength!

Where does this uniqueness come from?

During a powerful storm, Link crashes off the coast of Koholint Island, where a blonde-haired lady finds him and brings him to her home. And although the game is full of the series' motifs, we will not find the continent of Hyrule, Tri-Force, Master Sword , or even the title Zelda itself. It is quite original, it must be admitted that the approach to the subject is due to the history of its production, in which Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of the previous scenes, did not participate. I mean, of course, the original version, from the nineties, which was initially created after working hours under the supervision of Takashi Tezuka. The famous Shigsy reportedly had other activities on his mind, so he only participated in the Link's Awakening tests, from time to time offering advice and experience.

One of the developers - Kazuki Morita - wanted to experiment with the inventory and the ability to combine items. This "retrocrafting" was ahead of its time and was something fresh and daring in the game released on the mobile platform. I will not reveal any details here, so as not to spoil the fun of discovering the game on your own, but in this respect it was certainly an exceptional title in its time.

The developers from Grezzo, responsible for bringing the game back to shine, faced a real challenge. Enjoying the status of a cult version delighted years ago, which is why it also had to amaze in 2019 . Grezzo was chosen for this job for a reason, as he has already had some excellent ports from The Legend of Zelda series on 3DS: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask . However, preparing the port is not the same as creating the entire game from scratch, and in addition as faithful to the old original as possible. A cult cult, but time does not stand still and in order to gain the recognition of modern players, it was necessary to introduce a few changes in the mechanics of the game, related primarily to the use of equipment.

Ahoy known / unknown to land!

Link's Awakening is one of the most interesting episodes of Zelda . Tezuki was heavily influenced by Twin Peaks , a series that found its way into Link's story. In order not to reveal any details, let me just add that our goal is to find eight musical instruments that will enable the awakening of a huge whale sleeping in an egg at the top of the volcano. Only when this happens, the hero will be able to leave the island.

I might be tempted to say that if you played one game from The Legend of Zelda series , it would be like playing all of them. The parts differ in terms of story, sometimes inventory gadgets, platform-specific mechanics, and the way the world is portrayed, but the rest remain roughly the same. It is no different in the reviewed product, in which we do not find characteristic names of locations from the world of Link, such as Kakariko village, Zora's Domain or Hyrule Castle, and yet all these elements exist, although they have different names.

The game world has been divided into several regions that only appear on the map after their discovery. The very practical map itself has been drawn with all the details , and the possibility of zooming it helps you plan your route without having to wander around the rather complicated open world of Koholint Island. Teleports also help you travel over time, allowing you to move to a distant place in the blink of an eye. We do not have access to some locations from the beginning, because we do not find the right gadget in the inventory.

All that glitters is not gold

The course of the game, narration, puzzles, the presented world, plot - you can dissolve over each of these elements of the game, because they are coherent, thoughtful and give a lot of fun. However, there is no game that does not make any mistakes and it is no different with this position. The first problem is the very visible clipping of the animation . I usually play the Switch on a TV, and at first I thought the animation was failing for this very reason. However, when I switched to mobile mode, the situation did not improve at all. The loss of frames mainly occurs in the open world in more demanding locations for the CPU, for example in swamps. It does not interfere with the fun, but it seems sloppy and I am a little surprised that the product of this rank has not been polished with this element.

The second thing is control. The eight-way analog is not exactly what we expect in the new titles. The lack of a smooth transition of the character animation between directions is a fatal oversight . Especially since it also interferes with certain movements, which has caused me to lose my health or even my life. For example, a run / charge can only be done in four directions, which can be confusing when you need to react quickly. I don't know if this is the aftermath of the original or a deliberate but misguided decision by the creators.