I can't think of a more renowned franchise in video games than The Legend of Zelda. From its classic 8-bit days to its colorful, fluid 3-D adventures of today, Zelda has always presented a world of wonder to gamers. With its perfect mixture of exploring a vast overworld, and scouring enemy ridden labyrinths, The Legend of Zelda has truly catapulted into mass popularity. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX delivers on the fronts that are the staple of all Zelda games, and even adds some secret content distinct from the original Link's Awakening.
After washing ashore the strange island of Koholint, Link comes to and realizes he has to get off the island. To do so, he must gain acess to all the instruments hidden throughout the island and use them to awaken the Wind Fish. Thus begins the courageous adventure of a boy on a quest to vanquish evil and bring peace to the land.
What sets Link's Awakening apart from some of the others in the series is Princess Zelda not being present in the game. Taking her place is the charming Marin. Aside from this, however, everything that's made the franchise great is here, and you'll love every minute of it. Featuring an unbelievably large overworld for a Gameboy game, so many little secrets are ripe for the discovering. Enemies present a formidable challenge in many parts, but the awesome dungeons are what make this game shine.
Of all the Zelda games I've played (after having played this, that's now all of them) none give quite the challenge in terms of puzzles than this one. Every dungeon has multiple floors with little details that hold massive secrets and genius layout design. There might be blocks that are barring your progress in a certain area, and there seems to be no apparent way in. But, to tackle this puzzle you must pass on this barricade and advance to the next floor. By this time, most have forgotten about the blocked entry below, but the astute will realize they have to drop down a hole from above, landing directly in the previously unreachable spot. It sounds so simple, (and it is, really) but in the heat of the battle these little nuances create a remarkably stunning, and clever atmosphere that sets the tone of the game.
What also surprised me was the quite challenging difficulty level. I can safely say that I've never died so many time in a Zelda game (103 to be exact). But this really helps the game, I believe, because it's not a simple traipse in the park and it really pushes you to make proper use of your items and the surrounding environment. Speaking of items, there are all the classic ones, (i.e. bow, bombs, etc.) but there are some cool new ones as well. Every dungeon requires the use of the item you found in it on the final boss. And there are some very unique bosses, ranging from flaming balls to swimming fish. Innovative ideas pour out of this game and it really shows.
When Link's not exploring dungeons, though, there still is a lot of fun to be had. As mentioned before, the overworld is absolutely massive, featuring myriad locales like swamps, plains, and mountains. There are quite a few NPCs littered around Koholint and they all have a life of their own. Many have sidequests to offer you and the rewards for these are numerous. Randomly traversing the world outside the dungeons is just as fun as slaying bosses. Very similar to Nintendo's other highly touted franchise, Metroid, there are many times when you'll encounter caves with unreachable areas. You won't be able to nab the piece of heart on the other side of the chasm until you gain certain items later in the game. Thus begins the constant teasers found throughout, inspiring you to push forth and advance in the game.
After having experienced everything the game has to offer, a secret, and admittedly awesome, dungeon is accessible to players with a Gameboy Color (hence the reason it's labeled "DX", standing for deluxe). Tack this onto an already fine game and you've got a classic on your hands.
My only gripe is that I didn't play this game sooner. It has everything Zelda fans could ask for and more. The fact that it was made over ten years ago boggles my mind. Its adventure of epic proportions gives gamers so many ways to experience the joys of Zelda, and this is the reason it very well may be the best one to date. Dust off your Gameboy and pop this one in. It's a classic worthy of mention, a true example of entertainment in its purest form; gamers rejoice.
Community review by Linkamoto (October 05, 2005)
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