t_prime's The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (Game Boy Color) review

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Excellent game all around, Zelda or not

December 25, 1993. The first present I opened that morning was my first Game Boy, along with two games: Tetris, a staple in those days, and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, the newest chapter in Nintendo's successful adventure franchise, as well as Link's first foray into Game Boy. Over a course of many months, I slowly but surely progressed through Link's Awakening, and even as other games came along, it remained my favourite game on the original Game Boy.

October 1998. A fevered pitch is running through the video game world. After a five-year hiatus, and six years on home console, The Legend of Zelda was very soon returning with it's latest installment, Ocarina of Time. Along with the Nintendo 64, the Big N's Game Boy handheld has also had the benefit of the use of newer technology, and thus the Game Boy Color had been born. It was seen as an opportunity to show to a newer generation of Nintendophiles one of the greatest games they'd never played, as well as give those of us from back in the day a shot of nostalgia. Well, with The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, they did exactly that.

Despite being already five years old when it was released "new," the gameplay was still as good as ever, despite the fact that you could still only use two items at a time, something which only miffed me after A Link to the Past and the ability to always have the shield ready. It's not very complicated; it's very easy to pick up and not worry about what you have to do. The top-down perspective never fails when dealing with the 2D adventure genre, and Zelda has always benefited from it. Various weapons, including the famous Sword, the Roc's Feather, the Hookshot, the Fire Rod, the secretly hidden Boomerang and even the first appearance of the Ocarina (albeit not the one of Time) are some of the weapons included in Link's arsenal.

After having to make due with green-and-yellow (and then black-and-white with Game Boy Pocket) graphics for nine years, the colorization of Link's Awakening was certainly a sight for sore eyes. It's actually a testament to how good Link's Awakening was in 1993 in that all that was needed to update it was the many colors. There were no major graphical enhancements at all; in fact if one were to play this game on an original Game Boy (which is possible), there would be no way to tell this is another game, save for the clouds and extra date and letters on the title screen.

The sound is as good as can be expected. All tunes are new, without any remixes or new versions of previous Zelda themes (save for the hidden dungeon, which has a remix of Level 9 from the original Legend of Zelda). However, the feeling and idea behind the music remains the same. The villages have their peaceful, serene melodies, the minigames have a tune you can hum to yourself, the overworld is heroic (for lack of a better word) and unlike any Zelda before it, the dungeons all have their own themes, each one foreboding and "dungeon-like" in their own way. The Ocarina even has three melodies you can play, each with their own magical effect.

There was actually a very good story, despite the fact that it is indeed a "side story" of the series and does not have anything to do with Hyrule, the Triforce or the princess herself. Link has become shipwrecked on an uncharted island known as Koholint Island. A girl named Marin finds Link washed up on the beach and explains that since he arrived, monsters have begun to wreck havoc on the island. Link sets off to the beach to recover his lost gear, at which point a mysterious owl approaches him and explains that a mythical creature known as the Wind Fish sleeps on the island, and that in order to escape the island, Link must awaken the Wind Fish by retrieving the eight Instruments of the Sirens, each hidden within the eight treacherous dungeons on the island. Faced with little choice, Link sets off to fight for his freedom, as well as the island that needs him.

Seeing as I'd played this game many times in it's original form, it wasn't difficult to find my way through it again. However, while not difficult, the original was no slouch, and the few things that were added in for the DX version made it that much more appealing. One such addition is the extra dungeon that is hidden under a graveyard, which emphasizes the use of color. For example to gain access, two Stalfos guard the entrance, and you must tell them which color shirt they are wearing. Puzzles within the dungeon include matching colored blocks in a correct pattern, and tiles that turn red mean the floor is about to collapse. The prize for finishing this dungeon is "The Power of Color", a choice between two new tunics that either upgrade your attack or defense.

The other extra is the Bucket Mouse, a rodent photographer who takes photos of Link at certain times throughout the game that can be printed out on the Game Boy Printer. Some photos can only be taken during certain mini-quests or before you access certain areas. There are twelve photos in all, and even if you don't have the Game Boy Printer, they're still fun to try to find.

There is nothing wrong with this game. Really, all it's missing is the feel the original gave me when I first played it, and even then that's nothing I should be complaining about. An excellent adventure all around, and probably the best GBC game available.

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