Link's Awakening holds some of my favourite memories from my childhood in it's grasp. The days that I spent sitting in my kitchen, trying to catch the sunlight at just the right angle while my dad watched over my shoulder as we figured the game out together are moments that I will never forget, and they are really the moments that formed me as a gamer. So when I recently entered a bit of a retro game kick, Link's Awakening was the first game I sought out. After searching for weeks, I found a copy at a local retro game store, and was finally able to relive the game that started it all.
The moment that I turned the game on and woke up in my bed in Mabe village, the memories game flooding back. There was the very Mario like man standing over me, with his shining red nose, who handed me my shield as I stepped out the door. When I turned to the next screen I was greeted by the Chain Chomp (yes, from Mario) named Bow Wow that I remember being so afraid of the first time I played the game, and there was Marin. Oh, Marin, how I used to love you. It took minutes for me to reacquaint myself with the surroundings of Mabe, despite the fact that I hadn't played the game in over 10 years, and I felt like I was home.
As the game chugged on, I remembered more and more memories from my childhood. The feelings this game managed to bring back out were... amazing. The fact that I was playing on an old GBA SP with a bad backlight, forcing me to play in the sunlight so I could see the screen properly, added to that. It all felt so right, entering back into my old school gaming mode of chopping every single little bush down to get every ruby I could, talking with every NPC until they had no more to say, exploring every cave as much as I could, it was fun, more fun than I've had in a while, no doubt thanks to nostalgia.
But nostalgia aside now, really, Link's Awakening is a WEIRD game. Like, really weird. You encounter such things as the previously mentioned Chain Chomp (and other Chain Chomp puppies, who are adorable), a Yoshi doll, pictures of Princess Peach, and even Kirby and the occasional Goomba as enemies. This is thanks mostly to the dream setting of the game, with it being said fairly explicitly that this whole thing is one big dream, and your goal being to wake up, and sadly, leave the island.
To do this, you have to go through eight dungeons and find the instruments required to wake the creature known as The Wind Fish. All of the classic notes are hit throughout these dungeons, along with some incredibly weird stuff, but that isn't really where the best of this game lies. In my opinion, the best of this game lies with the characters and interactions between them, and exploring this weird, wonderful little island. You come across some great characters throughout like a Rat photographer who follows Link around to take pictures of him at the oddest of times, the previously mentioned Marin, who acts as Link's love interest, and some other really just... odd things.
By the time that I collected my last instrument and Link was ready to go wake the Wind Fish, I really wasn't. I played this over a couple weeks and thouroghly enjoyed revisiting the island and the characters that inhabited it, so it was kind of bitter sweet to play the Balled of The Wind Fish to open the egg, take on the final boss, and wake up from the dream, leaving it all behind.
With all that said (phew!), I believe that everyone should experience Link's Awakening at some point in time, especially if you area fan of The Legend of Zelda series. It has some very weird, very obscure moments that will leave you scratching your head at times, but it is absolutely worth banging your head against to experience what is in my personal favourite game in the franchise, and one of my favourites of all time. If you haven't yet, I'd say give it a chance. You can get it a multitude of different ways, or just do as I did (the crazy way), and bust out your old gameboy and play it that way. That'd be my suggestion.
Thanks for the read, if you've read to hear, I always appreciate it, if you've played through Link's Awakening in the past, feel free to share your thoughts, I'd love to hear them.