The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
released on Jun 06, 1993
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is the first title in the series to be released on a handheld system and the only Zelda title on the original Game Boy. The gameplay is mostly similar to its predecessor with a top-down perspective, however there are short sections in dungeons where the game switches to a side-scrolling view with platforming elements. For this new adventure, Link must go onto each of the 7 temples to retrieve a musical instrument that will help awaken the Wind Fish. Along the way, he must search the land and uncover hidden treasures and items that will allow him to progress on his journey. Since its release, Link's Awakening has been popular among fans and critics.
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You know, I have a history of WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS disliking zelda games since I was a WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS little kid. Maybe part of it WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS is because I had all sega stuff growing up, but WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS going back to link's awakening once I WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS finally acquired a taste for zelda and saw everyone say this game is WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS one of the best in the series only to discover WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS that it plays it's little fucking "you cant do this yet" message every WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS fucking WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS time you even so much as touch the WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS thing you can't use yet that I just cant help but think my old point of view was just a little bit WOW THIS LOOKS PRETTY HEAVY YOU WONT BE ABLE TO LIFT IT WITH JUST YOUR BARE HANDS justified.
Interesting environments, a wide variety of tools and weapons, well-written and engaging characters, and a whole horde of secrets to uncover, all with simple black and green graphics on a cartridge that can probably hold less data than the document I’m typing this review in.
Many people are familiar with David Lynch's screed against watching films on smart phones. I agree with Lynch that watching films on phones sucks, though people certainly take it further. If you spend enough time talking about movies, you will encounter the "well you didn't really see the movie watching in that format" argument: only this cut, on this size screen, projected in these specifications, colour graded this way, with this quality of sound, sitting in this seat, and knowing this historical context is the only true experience of a film. Undeniably these factors can impact your appreciation of a film but I will maintain that, unless you stopped watching, you did see the movie. When my dad saw Mad Max: Fury Road on a plane and didn't like it, he was seeing it equally as much as I did in a theatre with a packed crowd or when he saw it on a big TV and enjoyed it a lot more.
You'll find this sort of discourse in any artistic medium, and as I've gotten more into video games, I've both seen and advanced similar arguments myself. Beyond the obvious instances where controllers differ substantially in form and function or a CRT provides a more authentic image, you have hundreds of invisible technical quirks that can affect the experience for better or worse. It becomes easy to just recommend/instruct people to play a game you enjoyed in the exact way you did and not risk the potential differences of emulating or going back to original hardware or whatever undermining their enjoyment. There will also always be the argument in gaming for the highest specs and most modern conveniences possible: give me a 30 year old 8-bit game running on my 360Hz 4K OLED monitor with save states, rewind, debug menu available, whole nine yards (and if I like it there better be a randomizer mod I can try out afterward).
This is a long way of saying I don't really care how you play Link's Awakening: on a pea-green Game Boy, on your Wii U, on your phone; in its original, DX, or remade version; for a couple hours, to the end, to 100% completion, etc. Go nuts. There's value in all its iterations, and all of it is Link's Awakening. However you played it, you played it, and I wouldn't be concerned about what someone in a discord or on here will shame you for.
But if after all that you'll indulge me one thing: I think you should play it handheld, because I think that's the point.
Worlds in (single player, offline) games materialize when you boot them up and disappear when you turn them off. Multiple games have made artistic hay under that particular sun, tending towards the "the best thing you can do is stop playing" conceit. Link's Awakening is distinct. I've heard Koholint Island being a dream described as a twist, when in reality it is much more a premise. I'd say the twist is that despite being the destined hero who always saves the day in other Zelda games, here there is nothing you can do to alter the transience of this world. Yet the game wants you to keep playing, and see it through to its conclusion.
We make and unmake every dream we have, inherently. Turning an idea into something material or corporeal is both creation and destruction: the result is never exactly what is in your mind, and you can never quite go back to what it was as just an idea. That disconnect can make anyone despondent if they dwell on it; if they let it convince them there is no value to making something no one will see just as you see it, if they see it at all. "Verily, it be the nature of dreams to end."
The Wind Fish is right, but it is also the nature of all things to transform. Experience becomes memory becomes premonition becomes experience and on and on. Dreams deferred will dry/fester/stink/crust/sag/explode. The story in the author's mind becomes the story in the cartridge becomes the story in my mind. You know it's just images moving really fast, it's just words put into a specific order, it's just code rendering. But when I take out my Switch and boot up this game, I feel like I am holding a world in my hand. I know it will textually evaporate when I finish it, I know it will literally evaporate when I turn it off, I know it was never really there to begin with.
But they only ever made and remade this game for handheld devices. And when I hold it I feel it. And maybe by telling that to you, you'll hold this game and feel it too. Or maybe you'll feel something different because you've held these words in your head. I'm fine with whatever.