MetalFRO's Blog

Posted on Aug 8th 2018 at 12:00:00 PM by (MetalFRO)
Posted under Links Awakening, The Legend of Zelda, TLoZ, Game Boy Guru, Game Boy, game review, Nintendo

As many of you may be aware, I came very late to the Zelda party. In fact, one might say I crashed the party. I tried to get in many times over the years, but it seemed as though the DJ never played my tune. Or in my case, the songs being spun just didn't grab me until I finally understood the lyrics. Whatever the case, The Legend of Zelda finally clicked with me when playing the original game for the August 2016 RF Generation Play Through, and I further cemented my newfound appreciation for the series when I played this game, in January 2017. I revisit it again here for this video review, and still find myself enchanted.

What was your first Legend of Zelda experience, and better yet, when did the magic capture you? Which game was it, and what about it captivated you?

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I'm having a difficult time figuring out exactly when I played this title, but it could have been as early as 1995 or as late as 1999 (or maybe 2000), though I am leaning towards late.  I do remember I got to the end but erroneously believed that I needed all the shells to get into the last level (I was missing one), so I quit.  I didn't pick it up again until I got the DX version in the Nintendo 3DS eShop earlier this year, and this time I finished it.  Like you said, it is an amazing game, and while I did have some issues with it (difficulty of later dungeons, swappiness of items towards the end of the game), it is still an experience that is easily recommended.
I love that you were finally able to play and appreciate this game! It's quite the masterpiece. To this day it remains my #3 favorite Zelda game, behind A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds. I thought it was super clever how they sprinkled in enough winks and nods to the first few games in ways that have a new meaning after you finish it, and made it just different enough that it felt unique and strange at the same time. I also like the subtle self-awareness in some of the NPC dialogue.

I don't remember when I first played it, my memories of those days are pretty fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure it was the original version. I don't remember having too much difficulty with the puzzles, but I may have used a guide for some of the more obscure item trading puzzles (which was another cool mechanic I hadn't seen before but loved at the time). Eventually I played the DX version and really enjoyed the new color-focused dungeons it added. By the time I shelved it I'd done pretty much everything I could do in the game. I agree that it's definitely worth playing, as it still holds up well.

And for the Pokemon fans, the walrus was lazily blocking Link's path in this game 2 years before Snorlax came along Tongue
Great review FRO!  I have to admit that I'm a big fan of the original Zelda and A Link to the Past, but I had never played Link's Awakening until early this year.  I know that's hard to believe, but quite honestly, the Gameboy was a bit after my generation. My much younger brother had one, but it wasn't a system that I owned until much later in life. I think I played this game for a little while on a few of our vacations, but never got into it. Anyway, after playing Final Fantasy Adventure late last year, I was completely blown away by the capabilities of this early handheld system.  I was told that I really needed to play Link's Awakening next, and so I did.  I have to say that I was as, if not more impressed with this game and it ranks among my favorite Zelda titles.  I even think it does some things better than LTTP such as adding the smaller quests outside the dungeons to obtain the keys, the long trade quest, and I feel like the NPCs are a much bigger part of this game. I also like how you can combine items, but the big drawback is all of the toggling for items that you have to do that takes you out of the game so often, and some of the items, like the power glove, isn't an automatic use.  Great, lengthy game that has some teeth you wouldn't expect. While many GB titles are simplistic and fall well below the standards of the NES, this one certainly goes above and beyond.
@bombatomba: Oh man, collecting all the shells in Link's Awakening is not an easy task, and to a kid upon its release, must have felt a bit like what folks feel now, trying to find all the Korok's in Breath of the Wild. Speaking of the DX version, I still have my CIB copy. I should think about giving that another go...

@zophar53: I appreciate the Pokemon reference, even though I can't relate, since I STILL haven't played any games in the series, except for briefly dabbling with Pokemon Go! to find out if my previous workplace showed up as a gym or pokestop. *ducks*

@singlebanana: Thank you! I will have to definitely agree that the NPCs make the game a lot more interactive, and I'm happy that the series, moving forward from this point, began to make story and dialog more of an integral focus. I will also echo your enjoyment of the trade quest, though I do think that particular mechanic overstays its welcome ever so slightly. Still, it's a fun section of the game, and fits in well with the overall story, since the sense of urgency in this particular LoZ chapter is much relaxed, compared to some other entries, so it doesn't feel out of place in the overall context of the game. And yes, the item swapping does get a bit tedious toward the end, and does break the immersion somewhat, but I never felt like it was too intrusive, and I still appreciated the ability to assign items/weapons to the specific button of my choice, rather than being locked in. That sense of freedom, however limited it was, still seemed revelatory for its time.
Great review! I really enjoyed the video.

My first exposure to the Zelda franchise was probably playing either or both of the first two games on the NES when I was really young, but that doesn't really count. I think A Link to the Past was one of the first SNES games I got when I was around 5 or 6 years old. I played it a ton, and despite my young age at the time, I was able to get really far in it, although it was still a few years before I was actually able to beat it. It is still my favorite game in the series and one of my all time favorite games.

I played Link's Awakening probably around the time it came out when I was around 7 or 8 years old. I actually got to the final boss back then but didn't actually beat him. I finally went back a few years ago and replayed the game and finished it this time. I remember thinking that certain parts of the game were really cryptic just like you mentioned and wondered how I ever figured some of that stuff out as a kid. It was still the pre-internet age when I originally played it, although I did have a close friend at the time who was playing the game also, and I remember us comparing notes and helping each other along.

It certainly is a great game, and it is very impressive when you consider just how primitive many other Game Boy titles are in comparison.
@Disposed Hero: Thanks so much! Yeah, it's interesting to compare Link's Awakening to games that came out during the launch, and in the months that follow. Sure, developers like Konami and Capcom were able to get quite a lot out of the Game Boy within its first 2 years, but LA is so tight, and optimized so well for the hardware that it just plays so smooth. It's quite a revelation, and the Game Boy was only about halfway through its life cycle at that point. Unfortunately, few developers were able to get that level of quality out of the handheld in the subsequent years.
Fantastic review! I also recently finally beat this game and had a blast with it.

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