The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review: Re-training your Zelda standards


The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch is such an incredible blast from the past that you just can’t help but keep playing.

Everyone around the internet has already praised Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch. How adorable it is. How it’s literally the same game from the Game Boy in the 1990s. How there are moments of screen lag, but otherwise nothing else detrimental.

They’re all correct. I spent a fair amount of my weekend powering through Link’s Awakening on the Switch and loving every second of it — well, almost every second of it.

There are some adjustments to be made on the player’s part. The last Zelda game I played this extensively was Breath of the Wild, which shed every single Zelda stereotype I grew up with.

It’s not a bad thing to return to those stereotypes. If anything, it’s a fun return to basics, to what we grew up with.

Still from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch from E3. Image: Nintendo.
Still from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch from E3. Image: Nintendo. /

What do I mean, exactly? Not being able to explore any part of the world you want. There are obstacles preventing you from reaching almost every area until you have a particular item (the hook shot, the Pegasus boots, the flippers). The fact that enemies will drop hearts to help refill your health. How if you have a fairy in a bottle, it will not automatically revive you if you run out of hearts–you have to use it before you die. I found this out the hard way.

All of these things I had forgotten, and it was almost delightful to experience them again after having nearly full freedom in BOTW.

It’s also weird how much of this game I’d forgotten and how much of this game I mix up with A Link To The Past. I played both games extensively as a kid, and I kept thinking certain things happened in this game (i.e. where you find the flippers in this game versus ALTTP). That kept messing me up.

I also had a solid recollection of every single part of Link’s Awakening… through the first dungeon. After that, it was just vague memories of familiarity. But it didn’t detract from the experience.

The only other thing that I didn’t notice until a half-hour in was the fact that the main world map is all one consecutive piece. No longer do you reach the edge of the screen and have to wait for it to scroll to the next one. No, it’s all one — something we’ve grown used to as of late, and I didn’t notice immediately. It’s not a noticeable difference (especially since the dungeons are still the one-screen screens), but it is certainly an upgrade.

Link’s Awakening is a wonderful way to return to your childhood, even despite the hefty $59.99 price for a 10-15 hour game.

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Have you played Link’s Awakening yet? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments!