Review of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: not worth buying

Video games, like movies, are in that inter-generational period, where gamers who remember the first version can share this “rebooted” version with their kids who’re now that age. I guess that’s kinda fun, otherwise I have no interest in revisiting these reboots or even playing that many of the new sequels.

For me, the Zelda series is in need of a revamp. It has basically been the same game since Ocarina of Time, with new aesthetics or slight changes in mechanics. And many of those have revisited concepts from older 2D games (Twilight Princess reminds me a lot of “A Link to the Past” with it’s Dark and Light worlds). Still fun, but I haven’t been that excited about playing them.

Looking forward to finding a copy in stores somewhere (I don’t buy from Amazon), mostly for my wife, who is much better at these games than I am. But I like many of the Zelda games (particularly from the GameCube era, of which I have nearly all but the last.)

Can’t agree with this. I mean about the “sameness” thing. OoT seems very different to me in terms of gameplay to Wind Waker or Breath of the Wild, apart from all of them being in 3D, which is more superficial a similarity than you might think. If anything, I’d say this category of games has been ravamped more frequently than most: nearly every outing represents some major shift prior.

However, I do think it would be neat to play as Zelda, the one character virtually all of these are named after. Not sure what gives with this or what the hold up is.

I do think the price is a fair critique (I’m not suggesting it cost $5, either).

I know of a few professional game critics who would beg to differ-- $60 means such vastly different things to people that it’s futile to guess whether or not it’s going to be worth the money to a given person. Personally I’m apt to spend more on beer in a week, so it’s absolutely worth it to replay one of my all-time favorite games.

So I’ve been playing this the last couple of days. One thing to mention, w.r.t. that “don’t buy it” clickbait review, is that the new version is (AFAIK) the first Zelda title to contain a dungeon editor, so even the claim that there’s no new content is questionable.

Not having played the original, it’s really interesting how many little details, even in the Switch version, give me deja vu for early Game Boy games. Things like the genie dungeon boss, the phone booths and the smooshed overworld map make me think “oh yeah, that’s a really early-nineties-Nintendo design choice”.


That seems like an odd thing to say in light of Breath of the Wild


I can’t quite agree with you on that. The 3D home-console Zelda games from OoT through Skyward Sword all seem very similar to me. The art style and some aspects of the setting changed, but the core gameplay and concepts remained basically the same.

Breath of the Wild, though, was a totally different game. In many ways it has more in common with the NES original than the other 3D titles.

I’m a bit disappointed in the simplistic dungeon design of Link’s Awakening. It may have been impressive on the Game Boy, but it feels pretty dated today. Mostly just variations on “find the key to open the next locked door”. My favorite part of the Zelda series is the dungeons - in the 3D games, they often have interesting, unique styles (the Yeti mansion in Twilight Princess, for example) and different puzzle mechanics. That was my one disappointment with Breath of the Wild - only four full-scale dungeons, all with the same visual style, and slight variations on a similar puzzle idea. I hope the recently-announced sequel keeps the nonlinear, open overworld of BotW, but returns to the dungeon style of the other 3D games.

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OoT did not reward exploration the same way other Zelda titles did (caveat: I never got around to playing any of the home console titles after Wind Waker until Breath of the Wild, so I can’t speak for their effects—maybe you’re right and the other titles do follow OoT more closely, but WW definitely is further from OoT, closer to BotW in terms of overall feel).

I didn’t see them as dungeons at all. Ever play or see that game Shadow of the Colossus? They were more like that, albeit much more elaborate. Consider as well how optional they were. Most of the dungeons in Zelda games offer a required MacGuffin in order to proceed in the game. BotW had no such requirement for the divine beasts—you could skip them completely.

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That’s true about OoT not offering as much for exploration. I wonder how much of that was due to the limitations of the hardware - they couldn’t make the overworld as big?

Wind Waker had a lot of islands to discover, but still forced you to go through a series of linear plot points and dungeons. To me that’s what marks it as an OoT-style Zelda game, in contrast to BotW. The other 3D games follow that pattern too.

Majora’s Mask took the Ocarina of Time engine and gameplay and built some super interesting storylines on top of it. It took the time travel mechanic from OoT and made it far more complex and core to the gameplay. That was very cool, and a different direction from the other games.


It looks gorgeous, and Nintendo are notorious for selling their 1st party games at premium prices, while rarely ever putting them on sale, unless they are later repackaged as “Greatest Hits.” Even then, that take years.

So I guess I’m saying, $60 is the price they chose to sell it for, and that’s the price I expect it will remain for a long time. If it’s not worth it to someone because it’s an old game, then miss out I guess. Or wait and see.

Personally, at $35-40 I would have bought it without hesitation. For $60, I can wait until my current backlog is reduced somewhat.

Too many games, too little time.


Even so, I think linearity is really orthogonal to explorability. Even BotW is essentially on rails—they’re just more hidden by design, or reduced to more localized events and encounters. (It’s still a computer game, after all, and not a tabletop RPG session.)

But you didn’t have to go to all of the islands in WW in a particular order. There was some order dependence, but, again, WW rewarded exploration, even encouraging backtracking.

Not much—if anything, based on what I know of the N64’s capabilities.

Design issues aside, some of these limitations should be maybe seen as external to the device itself, simply by virtue of being first out of the gate in so many other ways. (Also, I see Majora’s Mask is an example of a near inversion of this: maybe “smaller” than OoT, but I found it much more interesting to wander through, which makes me think it was a design decision rather than something anchored in a specific set of limitations.

OoT already has large areas to be traversed where nothing happens (or in the case of the stals, many frustrating things happen). Hyrule Field is just mostly empty.


I did not read the review, but seriously? The puzzle in LA are too difficult?!

I am not sure if you aren’t misremembering WW.

WW is very linear… It tells you to turn around whenever you try to stray (/sail) from the linear path. You have to visit almost all islands in the intended order. At the very end, there are a few tiny branches (get item A or B first).

OTOH, in BotW you can go wherever and do whatever you want after you finished the tutorial. You find shrines everywhere, through exploring. Even backtracking is more prevalent: You don’t have some specific gear or food yet, thus you cannot stay in some specific weather condition for too long. Thus you get the stuff, and come back…

After a certain point, the game absolutely allows you to go to any island you want. Did you get to play it to that point? (I’ve played WW a lot—far more than any of the others, though BotW might possibly edge it out in terms of time spent in game.)

Well, yes, it is transitional between OoT (which is far more constrained than WW) and BotW.

But even linear games can encourage exploration, even if the rails are waiting for you. (Cf. Myst/Riven, which are probably the best examples of this.)

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