—living the dream—
Review copy purchased.
If you have ever had one of those dreams that you swore was real, then this game just might be the one for you.
Like any typical Zelda game, Link’s Awakening begins with the protagonist, Link, awakening from a good night’s slumber. From there, you’re immediately thrust into the thick of the adventure. Armed with only a shield, Link must enter and exit different areas in order to work out the mystery of Koholint Island. And it is that very mystery that will keep you hooked on this game.
Once you acquire Link’s sword, the real journey begins. The first big challenge you face is your introduction to a staple of Zelda games: temples. In Tail Cave, the enemies and puzzles are not so difficult, but you still need to use your wits in order to find the Nightmare Key-which you will need to locate in every temple in order to unlock the boss dungeon.
The game becomes progressively more difficult, most notably when you reach Eagle Tower. As the name suggests, this temple is geographically one of the highest, sitting up right on top of Mt.Tamaranch. Beating this temple is no walk in the park. Not only do you have to carry a large bowling ball around with you (and evade various enemies in the process) and throw it at a total of four pillars to access a new part of the level, but once you do there’s the boss itself. Let it be said that the eagle is one of the hardest bosses in the game not including the final battle. Personally, I would completely understand if you ended up screaming at the screen on several occasions. The eagle does that to you.
Nothing, however, compares to the final level. Upon entering the wind fish’s egg, you have to work your way through a maze of darkness to the slew of mini-bosses that await you below. Some of these bosses, appropriately named ’Nightmares’, might seem rather familiar to you. The names ’Ganon’ and ’Agahnim’ probably ring a bell: Ganon from several other Zelda games and Agahnim from A Link to the Past. In fact, there’s even a boss that is highly reminiscent of Gohma from Ocarina of Time. But I digress. By this stage of the game, you’ll have gathered a lot of extra hearts, and you’ll definitely need them. Nothing quite beats the feeling of dealing the final blow to the last Nightmare. When you do, an unbelievably bittersweet cutscene begins to play, one that makes you question and wonder things you’ve always believed-even in real life. To be honest, the feeling is not unlike the ending of Peter Pan, but I won’t go into much more detail than that. The journey is in your hands.
All in all, the creators of the Zelda franchise are masters at the art of exploration with minimal prompting from the game itself. You as a player are left to rely on your own instinct to figure out each puzzle, and it is glorious when you do. Another unforgettable part of this game is the music-in particular, The Ballad of the Wind Fish is a melody that carries a special wave of nostalgia to it that seems perfect for this game. Combined with challenging levels and humorous characters, this game is an old gem that you can keep returning to time and time again.