"Link's Awakening DX (LA for the purpose of this review) is one of the lesser known games in the Zelda saga. Their are several possible reasons for it's being relatively unknown: perhaps people are alienated by the original storyline, maybe people prefer the item systems of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Wind Waker, or perhaps people simply flat-out hate handhelds. In any event, LA is one of the stronger Zelda titles, due to its being perhaps the most unique of them all. "
Link's Awakening DX (LA for the purpose of this review) is one of the lesser known games in the Zelda saga. Their are several possible reasons for it's being relatively unknown: perhaps people are alienated by the original storyline, maybe people prefer the item systems of Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, and Wind Waker, or perhaps people simply flat-out hate handhelds. In any event, LA is one of the stronger Zelda titles, due to its being perhaps the most unique of them all.
The most important think that LA did to differentiate itself from the rest of the games is to develop its own storyline. Though OoT, Lttp, WW, FSA, and Minish Cap (I'm sorry but I haven't played Zelda 1 or 2) all have variations in their storylines, the same basic underlying plot is there. In all four of them, some terribly evil person is threatening to take over the world, and you, Link, must get some sacred blade and vanquish him. Also, note, that Princess Zelda gets kidnapped somewhere in each of those games. Not a single one of these things happen in LA. In LA, you are Link, whose boat was destroyed during a storm, and you find yourself stranded on a strange island. You are discovered by Marin, an inhabitant of the island, unconscious on the beach. She takes you back to her house to her husband, Tarin. When you awaken, they give you a shield and say that it had your name on it. As you traverse the beach, you discover your sword, which you had also lost. A n owl then flys to you and says that you are the boy who has come to wake the wind fish, and that it is impossible for you to leave unless you do so. This owl then tells you to head to the Mysterious Wood. He then tells you that you will find "much of mystery on this uncharted Koholint island." You are then directed by the owl to locate a key in the Wood and go to Tail Cave. Upon retrieving the key the owl requests that you find the instrument in Tail Cave. Once you acquire the Moonlight Cello, the owl informs that it is one of the Instruments of the Sirens. The instrument, he says, withe the other seven, can wake the Wind Fish. He then proceeds to tell you that he was told to give you instructions, and tells you where to find the next instrument. And this is how the game advances: you get an instrument, the owl tells you where to go next, you do some little side quest, you enter a level and retrieve the instrument. Rinse, wash, repeat. Just like every other Zelda game on Earth, except with an owl. However, the story itself gets much deeper as you progress. Indeed, the story is by far the most unique of the series (unless you count the original LoZ I guess.)
Graphics-wise, LA looks pretty good. Everything is in color (a huge step up from the original for the GB.) Everything looks pretty much the same as the two Oracle games (Link is identical I believe, as are moblins, octorocs, like-likes,and a plethora of other enemies; and Nayru from OoA looks a lot like a blue Marin.) Everything in the game looks as it should. I'm not complaining, especially since its a GBC game.
Though perhaps not anything revolutionary in terms of graphics, LA does sport a wonderful musical score. The Player Select screen has the classic Zelda theme playing, and (if you know how) this can be changed to a very lively salsa remix of it; as a matter of fact, the salsa remix is so good that I'm listening to it as I type this review. The main overworld theme changes from region to region. Up in the mountains, a very upbeat and heroic theme continually loops itself, whereas in the plains the classic theme can still be heard, though slightly less dramatic than in Lttp, and in the Mysterious Wood a song that gives a sorrowful feeling plays throughout. Dungeon music gets rather repetitive, but it gives the dungeons there Zelda-esque dark and gloomy atmospheres, and it has it has it moments. The theme for the towns is pretty happy-go-lucky, and isn't half bad. I don't like it quite as much as some of the other songs, but it's still pretty good. The only song that really ever gets to me is that idiotic music that plays whenever you get a guardian acorn or piece of power.
Zelda games are famous for their excellent gameplay. This game is no exception. LA offers a fair challenge, and the 2-D item, which, though annoying at times, is still quite effective. You have the classic items: you have a sword, a shield, an ocarina (eventually,) a hookshot, bombs, etc. There are other items, such as the power bracelet, Roc's feather, shovel, and other items we see very commonly in the portable Zelda games. As for combat: pretty much identical to Lttp and completely identical to OoA and OoS. The level layouts are pretty creative; the first level is shaped like its boss, Turtle Rock (the eighth level) is in the shape of a turtle, and other little details. As for the levels themselves: there are some tricky puzzles, especially in the eighth and fifth levels, and enemies tend to be pretty tough (note that all enemies typically do 1/2 or more hearts of damage, and that there are only fourteen heart containers in this game.) These factors make this one of the tougher Zelda games (especially when you consider the fact that there are no bottles, and the sword upgrade is really hard to get.) However, there is one thing that can really reduce (though not entirely destroy) the challenge factor of this game: the Color Dungeon. The Color Dungeon was something added into the game to utilize the fact that this was now a GBC game instead of a black-and-white GB game. This hidden dungeon is rather hard to find, but if you use a faq or guide, it's incredibly easy to get into. It is also relatively easy to beat considering what you get out of it. At the end of the dungeon is a great fairy who will give you the choice betwixt two tunics. One is red, and acts like a permanent piece of power (without the annoying music) and thus doubles the damage you deal when you strike an enemy, and also causes them to literally fly across the screen. This tunic WILL destroy any and all challenge that this game has, especially if you get the Lv. 2 sword as well. The other tunic is blue, and acts as a permanent guardian acorn (once again without the crappy music,) and thus causes you to take half damage. This will make the game much easier, but not totally wreck it. To show you exactly how much easier it made it, here's an example. On my second play-through of the game, I decided to try to go with out dying and thus get to see the secret ending. Needless to say, I had to save and quit many, many times (about once after every key) due to the fact that if I died I couldn't save and continue lest I should fail to go with out dying, and there is no save and continue in-game. I also died quite a bit (especially in the fifth level...brrr) that is until I found out about the Color Dungeon. After I had conquered this place and reaped my reward, the blue tunic, I am not sure if I ever died again (except maybe on the final boss, or in the eighth level.) Other than this little quirk, the challenge is at a very sufficient level.
All in all, LA is a great game. Though not my favorite Zelda game, it was still an incredible experience, and it really gave me a feeling of accomplishment when I figured out how to beat Turtle Rock without a FAQ. If you want to have a lot of fun while still being challenged, than LA is for you. I have no idea where you would find this game (I bought it off a friend for $20 some years ago; I regretted it then but I don't now,) but I would suggest buying it if ever you got the chance (unless you hate Zelda games, but then, why on Earth would you be reading my review?!)
Community review by lozlttp (June 28, 2006)
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