Stupid? Silly? With Just A Hint of Mario
Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is lying to your right off the bat: There is no Zelda in this title. There is also no Hyrule. Link's Awakening DX was recently re-released on the Nintendo 3DS as part of the 25th anniversary of the franchise, and if you weren't around to play the game in its original incarnation, boy is it weird, it's almost a parody of Zelda.
Link's Awakening, as mentioned previously, does not take place in Hyrule. Rather, Link is stranded on Koholint island, where he gathers his shield and sword, meeting an owl who directs him to recover magical artifacts to awaken the Wind Fish, guardian of the island. So for the game, you'll be discovering dungeons, defeating their bosses, and recovering artifacts.
As far as the game goes, Link's Awakening plays like any other top down Zelda title. You start with your basic sword and shield, and move on to find more objects with their own capabilities. Bombs, power bracelets, and more will litter your inventory. You'll also take part in other staples of Zelda, including fishing mini-games, collecting heart shards, farming rupees from tall grass, and more. The controls in Link's Awakening are an improvement upon previous titles, allowing the player to assign the a and b button to specific items at will.
The game is not in 3D with the 3DS port, although it does have one feature that makes the game much easier: restore points. The 3DS' emulator allows you to create restore points at any time in any game, allowing you to go back to them without the need to save using the game's save functionality.
The bosses are the only real threat in this game, and are occasionally more frustrating than difficult. The first boss you come across is on a small platform, and has a tendency to knock you off, causing you to lose a half of a heart, but the process restarts the boss battle. Apart from intended mechanics, I can't find anything in the game that does not work pretty much as it did back when the game came out on the gameboy color.
But I mentioned this game being weird, and you'll notice this even before the first boss battle. Right off the bat, you'll come across a chain chomp, a Yoshi doll, Link's Awakening has a ton of Mario characters in it. You can steal from shops, but your character save file is renamed "THIEF" and you'll be killed on sight by shopkeepers, but it is possible to do once. Even the characters are strange, often giving you advice but not really knowing why. Two kids in the first village will tell you things like "you can save the game at any time. What does that mean? How should I know, I'm just a kid!" or a character says "you can assign that by pausing the game and pressing the button you wish to assign it to. I have no idea what that means."
The setting is rather tongue-in-cheek, and for a gameboy game offers a very long single player campaign, especially if you wish to collect everything. My biggest complaint has to do with the secret seashells. During the course of the game, you will come across secret shells, but there is also an area where you can go to collect more. Every five shells, you can go to a secret area and collect a hidden shell. If you have six shells, you won't get the secret shell. It's a minor complaint, but it does make the game impossible to complete 100% without a guide, as the game never tells you this fact.
If you haven't picked up Link's Awakening, do so. it's nothing to buy a 3DS over, but it's a great addition to your virtual library.