The Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake is adorable and faithful to the original

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is one of the best-loved Game Boy games, and it’s no surprise that Nintendo chose this entry for an HD remake. This unique entry in the series takes us far from Hyrule, to Koholint Island, where instead of fighting Ganon, Link must wake the Wind Fish. With the upcoming Switch remake, a whole new group of players will get to take on one of Link’s most eccentric adventures, and longtime fans will be charmed by the new visuals and gameplay features.

We’ve had some remakes recently that stray from the source material severely. Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Resident Evil 2 both carve their own paths rather than religiously following the original games. The Link’s Awakening remake is a bit more traditional. I got to play a hands-on demo at E3 2019 and from Marin’s house to the Tail Cave, the game remains almost entirely faithful to its Game Boy source. That’s not a bad thing, in any case.

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Link’s Awakening shirks the 3D of the main titles and plays from a 2D isometric standpoint. It’s not entirely top-down like the original, so you get to enjoy the new depth of the 3D word while getting that classic Zelda viewpoint. The most significant change with this remake is the graphics. The palette is what I’d call “classic Nintendo” with bright, vivid colors. The whole thing has a porcelain look to it and doesn’t look unlike a moving diorama. The graphics fit Link’s Awakening as the story has a much less sinister feel with the absence of Ganon. You’re just trying to wake the Wind Fish and stop some of the chaos on Koholint Island.

There are a few notable changes with the Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake which are welcome. For one, you now hold your shield out using a dedicated button on the controller. This makes it a lot easier to block at any time, which changes up a lot of the combat in the game. With all the extra buttons on the Switch, you can also equip two items in addition to your sword and shield. In the original, you had to unequip your sword and shield to equip other items, which often meant you were vulnerable. You’ll also get to spend less time in your inventory this time around, which should make the game a more enjoyable experience all around.

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There are tons of little tweaks all throughout the Link’s Awakening remake that makes the game feel fresh. Enemy AI is more advanced, and you’ll see some variations on familiar foes. Areas have been fleshed out as well, so the world feels a bit bigger and more detailed. However, at its core, the remake is still very much built around the original. This is awesome since Link’s Awakening is such a great game, and I’m glad that we’re getting the chance to play it with such an adorable visual update.

I only got around 15 minutes with the Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake, but I was impressed with what I saw. I didn’t get to check out the new custom dungeon feature, and I only made it about halfway through the Tail Cave before I got the “thank you for playing” screen. I definitely left the booth wanting more, and I can’t wait to complete my adventure when it releases on Nintendo Switch on September 20.