The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

released on Sep 20, 2019

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a remake of the 1993 game of the same name. Besides the complete graphical and sound overhaul, its gameplay controls have been changed to incorporate the additional buttons the Switch holds as opposed to the 2-button choice of the Game Boy. The overworld map is far more detailed and specific locations can now be marked to be returned to on a later occasion. Additional heart-pieces can also be won, extending the heart meter to a total of 20 instead of the 14 hearts of the original.

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Bored me but the game looked great! Played nicely

Pretty cool game. I like the updated looks since they fit really well with the game's theme and the Mario enemies. Overall, it is a delightful Zelda and a recommendable introduction to some of the older titles which require more backtracking and exploring every corner of the map to advance.
personal note -> 9 deaths

Great update to one of my favourite childhood games, only held back by its performance.

I liked this one, but the dungeons felt kind of underwhelming and forgettable. The puzzles were mostly fun but I just felt they lacked any independent themes. Usually, I can recall a few standout dungeons from each game but for this one, I can't say I can differentiate them and I just played it through over the last few days.
Aside from that, the visuals are nice. The overworld is fun and the weird tone is the game's greatest strength. The story is basic, as per Zelda, but it has one of the best endings in the series.
I also found the performance a little lacking. In both docked and handheld modes there were frame drops all the time in the overworld when there really didn't need to be; this is a remake of a game boy game. I want to jump in with the original at some point now it's on NSO so I can compare.

Artistically, I love this game. The island setting is really refreshing and Koholint is so lovely to just exist in. The dreamlike nature of the narrative is super different for Zelda and the way it all wraps up at the end is so nice, finally meeting the Wind Fish, waking up, hearing Marin's song. Beautiful. And the visual style? Oh my god. I adore how this game looks so much, I want every game to look like this. It is so, so full of charm and colour and personality. Give me a Mario game that looks like this, give me a Pokemon game that looks like this, give me a fuckin GTA game that looks like this!! Genuinely what I would love more than anything else in the world is for the Zelda series - after Tears Of The Kingdom to come back to this style for the next mainline game. Don't just keep this relegated to remakes if you do Oracle Of Seasons & Ages, give me a full-on, original, top-down open-world game with this visual style. Drop me in a place as beautiful and mysterious as Koholint, tell me very little and let me discover it all on my own.
Unfortunately! When we talk about moment-to-moment gameplay, we're talking about a game that made me feel legitimately insane on numerous occasions! This sure is a game remade very faithfully from the 90s! Perhaps a bit too faithfully? Forget about the boss theme that is a 10-second loop of the most annoying sound you've ever heard in your life, this game has many methods of making you feel like you've actually gone crazy at its disposal. I understand that making any mechanical changes would fundamentally change the game's dungeons and thus make its status as a remake a bit wonky, but the fact that you can only push a block once in one direction before having to leave the room to reset it is nuts. NOT QUITE AS NUTS however as the fact that every block in the game that you could push looks exactly the same! There is no visual indication as to which blocks you can and can not push until you try, which leads to constant trial-and-error situations where you just push your fuckin face up against every block you see in the hopes that you can maybe move ONE of them to solve a puzzle! Even if you can push it, whose to say which direction you can push it? Because some randomly can't even go in certain directions! This is something you could change Nintendo! We won't crucify you! Give us a tiny little visual clue to suggest that that block is one we can push!
Dungeons are generally okay in this game, but almost all of them - at some point, want you to notice a random-ass bombable wall in the corner of a room to progress. In the Eagle's Tower, this drove me nuts. I spent a good hour or so trying to figure out how to get to the fourth pillar, I got the iron ball I need to use to smash it down in the room with it, but I myself had not managed to reach the room. I looked at the map and used my BRAIN POWER to ascertain that there was a big chasm on the 3rd floor I could fall through which lined up almost perfectly with the room with the 4th pillar in it on the 2nd floor. I do everything in my power to progress on the 3rd floor so I can reach that chasm, but eventually I go as far as I possibly can, still utterly blocked off from that chasm. As it turns out, there's a bombable wall in the bottom left-hand corner of the room with the 3rd pillar in it that you need to blow up to get to the 4th pillar. A bombable wall almost entirely enveloped in shadow, I might add. Between unintuitive block puzzles, random-ass bombable walls and some ridiculous "puzzles" like one in Bottle Grotto where you literally just have to kill the enemies in the room in a specific order, it often felt like I - the player was too smart for the dungeons in Link's Awakening. Frequently, I'm thinking about the dungeon as a whole and how my actions in one room might affect things in another, when it turns out the "puzzle" is actually some dumb shit tucked away in the corner of the room I was just in.
The critical path is similarly obtuse and old-fashioned. At no point is it so much as suggested that the game's ongoing item-trading quest will be key to beating the game, yet you can't enter a castle about halfway through without giving a banana...To a nearby monkey?? Who then builds a bridge for you to get across a river to get in? A monkey whose dialogue never remotely suggests that he will do that?? A banana that you only get from progressing far enough in - what has until now seemingly been a totally optional sidequest? And by the way! Do you remember how to get to the desert on the East side of the map? I'll tell you how I got there! An enemy threw a bomb at a completely inconspicuous bush on a totally ordinary floor tile which revealed a flight of stairs that I took to go through a cave and wind up on the other side of a river I couldn't cross - THAT'S how I got to the desert. The game tries to throw you a bone in regards to its obtuseness by giving you Owl Statues that give you hints in dungeons and letting you talk to a helpful old man on the phone in these little Phone Hut things, but on numerous occasions I found both of these things gave me misleading advice!
In the final dungeon, the Owl Statue gives you a hint that reads: "fill the holes with the rock that rolls." I assumed he was referring to a boulder or something of some kind that I was yet to encounter - but instead he was referring to that dungeon's weird-ass unique mechanic where you a control a vaguely rock-ish looking fuckin RC Car thing that fills in holes or lava with rock? But it doesn't roll! There is no rolling in its animation and when you're controlling it, it barely looks or feels like a rock - it's more like some kind of gadget - idk, it's really hard to explain what it is but it does not at any point come across as "a rock that rolls"! And when I'm stuck trying to get into Kanalet Castle and haven't figured out that I have to give a monkey a banana to get in, old cunt on the phone tells me to "annoy the crow by the castle" to progress. I look around everywhere I can near the castle, no crow! Why? Because the crow is IN THE CASTLE. Why couldn't you tell me about the monkey you fuckin inbred? Then I'd have at least developed some inkling that this fetch quest was crucial to the game's main path!
Anyway, wow what a gorgeous game. Love those crocodile guys, peak character design. Mmm. Just beautiful.
I liked everything about this other than the gameplay!