I’ve had a great relationship with The Legend of Zelda games, lasting many, many years with few complaints and many amazing times spent together. The series first caught my attention a number of years ago, when one of my older cousins was playing Ocarina of Time, which had just released at the time. I was still very young at the time, but had quickly become my household’s video game veteran, playing games like Sonic, the original Tomb Raider, and my favorite as a wee child, Rocket Knight Adventures. At seven years old, I sat mesmerized by Link and his adventures with creatures straight out of the imagination – attacking an interacting with objects in a way I’d never seen. It was so colorful, and was one of the first games I’d been exposed to that had so many different items that weren’t guns. An Ocarina you could use to call upon magical forces to bend the rules of time and space?? A sword that made you older and continue fighting in the future?! It had peaked my interest and I knew I had to play it.
That time came for me a few years later when I had saved up enough allowances to buy an N64 on my own. As an elementary school student, this was an unthinkable amount of money and a huge investment, but I never regretted it. One of the first titles I got for the system was Ocarina of Time, and it was everything I had fantasized and more. It was pure video game bliss. That ecstasy continued through all the next Zelda games, with it being the most consistently stellar series I’ve ever played. We haven’t seen a major Zelda game release for console since 2011 (Skyward Sword) and, DAMN, am I hungry for more.
The four of us at Pixelrater couldn’t wait for March 3rd to come without immersing ourselves back into a Zelda title, and so we embarked on our journey, ZELDA BOOK REPORTS. I’ve enjoyed many Zelda games, but never played through Link’s Awakening, which first released for Gameboy in 1993 and then Gameboy Color in 1998. Tristan really loved Awakening, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
Link’s Awakening begins with a great storm. Link is cast off his ship in the tempest, and is seen lying on a beach with a girl who looks like Zelda tending to him. The island he washes up on has no way out, until the Wind Fish is awakened. The rest of the game follows Link on his journey to collect the eight instruments to awaken the Wind Fish, helping the people he meets along the way.
This game is charming as fuck. I feel like the perfect amount of time has passed from when it released to now, because I’m able to appreciate how well this game was made for when it came out. I’m totally getting the nostalgia feels, remembering the days of playing gameboy color until the sun went down, and then trying to catch the screen in just the right light to see what I’m doing.
Awakening employs Zelda’s tried and true formula, with no concessions made just because it was a portable title. I honestly expected the game to be much more simplified than it is, and it was really refreshing getting into the game and seeing how fleshed out it is. Here’s what I’ve done so far:
- Woke up from my shipwreck
- Got my shield from the dude in the room when I woke up (that was easy)
- Explored the first town/village, was scared by BowWow
- Tried to go East
- Tried to go North
- Finally went South to the beach where I washed ashore
- Got back my sword!!! Yay
- Met the owl (Less annoying but still annoying)
- Went to the woods cause the owl told me to
- Magic powdered the raccoon boy who started to spin and turned into a ~real boy~
- Got the key to the first dungeon
WOW. This far in, I was expecting much more hand holding. Instead of showing you exactly what to do/where to go, Awakening does an amazing job in its level design where it’s just not possible to continue to go anywhere else until you have the correct item or ability to get through. It’s been awhile since I’ve played a retro game, and so I’m still trying to get my sea legs right when it comes to combat and keeping myself from falling down holes. So far, so good.
- Entered the first dungeon, Tail Cave
- Got Roc’s Feather
- Died MANY times to the caterpillar boss
- Finally defeated the first boss/dungeon
- Got my first instrument to wake the wind fish
- The boys told me about the attack on the village
- Found BowWow
- Tried to take BowWow back
- I have to keep BowWow for some reason
- Took him on a walk around the village
- Nope still need to have him
- THATS WHY I NEED HIM
- Made it to Dungeon #2, Bottle Grotto
HOLEY MOLEY that first dungeon was like Swiss cheese w/ all dem holes (wink wink). Eventually I was able to puzzle my way to getting the Rock’s feather, which let me jump. I wasn’t expecting the ability to jump, and I wasn’t expecting the point of view to change from overhead to side view in parts of that dungeon. Very cool and a great nod to the MARIO games with the goombas. Otherwise, I didn’t find the first dungeon super difficult, the last boss kept knocking me off and I had to start that fight over more times than I’m proud of. After about a half hour in there, I came out with the first instrument. Yayyyyy! I do wanna say that the music up to this point has been absolutely FIRE. 8-bit realness with some familiar musical themes are making this run feel really great.
The next section was by far one of the more confusing on my end, I didn’t really understand what to do with BowWow at first, and once I got it I was feeling quite dumb. It literally tells you on a sign that BowWow is needed. sigh Real talk though, BowWow doesn’t come inside when you enter the second dungeon. WHO WATCHES HIM? Like, I’m literally borrowing him, that chick is gonna be PISSED if she finds out I left him in a swamp all alone for god knows how long. So sorry Mr.Wow.
- Began the Second Dungeon, Bottle Grotto (almost wrote Butthole Grotto)
- Couldn’t figure how to kill the Shy Guy looking people
- Where is the Bird Beak
- Finally Figured how to kill the Shy Guys
- WTF IS THIS BLACK HOLE PULLING ME IN
- I hate these block walls
- I can pick up rocks and pots now yay
- This was a really cryptic way of telling me what to do next
- IM A GENIE IN A BOTTLE BABEHHHHHHHH
- Next Instrument, CHECK.
- Finally actually returned BowWow, bye bb
- Just wandering
- Glad I did this villager roulette to get this banana, thank you monkey for building a bridge
- I’m collecting leaves in a castle
The Second Dungeon was much more puzzling than the first, but I had much less trouble with it’s final boss. I’m very excited to have gotten the Power Bracelet, now I can destroy ALL THE POTS (and I guess go to other areas of the map). There is a bit of a pause before the third dungeon, which is nice pacing-wise, and I’m in a castle collecting leaves.
Honestly, I’m really enjoying Awakening. It’s a super solid game in general, and it continues to be extremely exciting, even considering it’s age. Check in next week for my next entry in my ZELDA BOOK REPORT!