June '24 Monthly Game Club - The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

June 2024’s game selection for the Monthly Game Club is The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening!

I nominated it, and here’s what I had to say about about the submission:

It’s beloved, seems a little weird, it’s inspired by Twin Peaks, and I haven’t gosh darn played it!

It was originally released on the Game Boy in 1993, got a DX version for Game Boy Color, and somewhat recently received an entire remake on the Nintendo Switch.

What do you know about this game, anything interesting? Any memories from playing it back in the day? And what version do you plan to play for the club?

Also, what’s up with the Switch remake? Do you have a preferred version?


I think I’m going to play the DX version. I’ve got it on my 3DS, and I haven’t broken that bad boy out in many years.

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I’ve played the DX version and the switch remake. They’re both great.

I know the art style and performance of the Switch remake have seen some criticism, but I love playing with my little Zelda toys in my little tilt-shifted diorama. I would definitely recommend playing either version.

It’s such a neat little Zelda game, and to me, feels the most like a little puzzle box out of any Zelda or Zelda-like. It’s up there for me as one of the best games.on the original Gameboy, alongside Donkey Kong '94.

The greatest impression the game left on me was how weird it was. You can unequip the sword? You can jump? You can stomp goombas? I guess what I mean to say is that it feels like a fangame, from before fangames were really a thing. That’s cool!

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ohh boy, I have only ever played the Switch version of this. I got stuck in the fifth dungeon, I think. Like I just didn’t know how to solve a puzzle and I had already mucked it up too bad for a walkthrough to be especially helpful.

The only gameboy zelda I had growing up was Oracle of Ages.

This seems like as good a time as any to give it another honest attempt. I’ll play the DX version just because I have an affection for the GBC.

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I probably won’t be playing this with you all, but it is one of my favourite games of all time. I got it with my birthday money in I guess either ’93 or ’94, so it has the significant advantage of getting to me when I was young, but I really believe it’s one of the greats, not just on the game boy but in all gaming. A great example of not needing powerful hardware to make a powerful game. When I first played the game I got stuck in one of the later dungeons. As a veteran of many Sierra adventure games, I assumed I’d done something wrong earlier in the game (actually I just needed to bomb a particular wall) and started over. Despite that, I still like the game. It was my first Zelda, so I’ve always been disappointed in the other ones where you can’t jump.

I’ve played the original and the switch versions. I have a copy of DX but haven’t played it. There were a few additions in the switch version compared to the original that I think came from DX, and to be honest I don’t think they added much. I didn’t enjoy the colour dungeon, for example. But maybe it’s just the influence of
image
and me wanting the game to be how I remembered it.

I did a screenshot Let’s Play of the original version some years back.

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I really enjoy Link’s Awakening, I’ve maybe rewritten this post 3 times considering what to and not to say for the benefit of anyone who may have not played it… maybe I’ll come back at the end of the month to further comment on what exactly I like about Link’s Awakening.

I think in considering what I do enjoy about it, I may have half convinced myself to play it again since it’s close to five years(!!!) since that version came out and maybe a decade plus since I beat the original on Game Boy.

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Ooh looking forward to this one! I have this game but have never played it properly. I have been working through the NES Zelda games, was planning to play LTTP next but I can skip ahead and play Link’s Awakening this month.

I have a few options for playing this, kinda tempted to play on an original DMG I bought a couple years ago.

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Highly recommend either the Link’s Awakening Redux patch to smooth out a lot of the repetitive text for acorns and such

OR

This really cool one that leverages more Super Game Boy features to let you use the whole controller and stop constantly jumping into the menu to switch items.

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That is very interesting! I was gonna ask, do people have feelings about the original vs DX versions of this game? Also would these patches be a good way to experience the game as a first playthrough or should I stick with the plain version?

Tbf I have played Oracle of Ages and Seasons extensively so I am no stranger to switching items around on the A and B buttons!

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I got it back in the day on my dmg, loved it so much. Got so stuck on one puzzle and only got past it several years later when I first got internet access at home and realised I could just look up the solution.

I reckon the menu juggling is sort of part of the game but a fast-forward to speed up the dialogue is a nice upgrade.

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Oooooh I have the DX cart sitting in my nightstand, guess I know what I’m playing at bedtime this month! I don’t have much experience with the Zelda series, some sporadic playing of 1 and BotW and all of Link Between Worlds in college (fantastic) but it’s been a big blind spot for me. Last year I completed A Link to the Past and loved most of it, had some issues with some bits that didn’t age great but overall very enjoyable. Stoked to get into Awakening and compare it to the Switch remake at some point.

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Link’s Awakening is the first Zelda game I have a memory of playing! I’ll have to check the basement in the evening. I might join in with the cartridge from back then with the red Gameboy I own since elementary school (lovingly called the brick).

I think it might be interesting to check how well it holds up today. I was really tempted to pick up the switch version but ultimately couldn’t get over the price at the time and never bought it. I might be able to get it from the library though…

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TLDR : I have nothing of actual value to say here, just nostalgic rambling.

One of my favourite games, probably tied with Ocarina as my favourite Zelda game. I played this when I was a kid on my gameboy colour. This was different from playing games on a shared console, where everyone kind of played together or watched each other. The gameboy was mine and I would get to choose the games for it. I went to Smyths Toys to buy a gameboy game because I had gotten some cash. I didn’t really know what was out at the time, or what kind of game I wanted, then I saw The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening DX on the shelf.
At this stage in my childhood I had played some of Ocarina of Time, never getting past Jabu-Jabu. So I was quite inexperienced with the Zelda franchise, I just knew Ocarina was cool. I knew nothing about Link’s Awakening , didn’t realise it was a colour remake of an original gameboy game. I didn’t even really understand the format of Zelda games, that each one is its own story - so I assumed this was a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time! None of that mattered, this was my chance to have a Zelda adventure all to myself .

I picked it up for like £20 , I can still remember the feeling of holding the cardboard box containing the game. That specific memory makes me a little sad for some reason. Got home , connected my Gameboy Magnifier screen / light combo, slotted in the cartridge and I was away. I loved how the the village was a friendly safe environment which allowed you to wander around and talk to people . Even as a kid, I could tell something was a little off with the people in this game , the way they spoke. There is a undercurrent of sadness and melancholy, teeming throughout the game. Besides the main plot which is an existential / nihilistic concept, the individual characters have their own sad stories. Another use above posted the image of the ghost who just wanted to see his home one last time before passing in the next world “…Nostalgia… …unchanged…” (and I will absolutely post the same screenshot from the DX version below ) There are a bunch of quests and quotes like that and I found this darker tone quite intriguing.

I played the heck out of that game as a kid, I would get pretty far, get stuck and decide “hmm. maybe I’ve messed something up, I should probably start a new game”. Which is obviously ridiculous but I didn’t have any goddamn internet to look up a walkthrough at the time, so I continued to bang my head against a wall. I think I got near the second last dungeon but there were some parts my dumb baby brain could not figure out. This didn’t taint the experience for me however - on the contrary it made the adventure seem even more epic and challenging. I was ok with not finishing it back then, I figured I would come back to it sometime.

Well I did come back to it, 24 years later. I got a Steamdeck, got emulators set up via Emudeck and finally made the journey back to Koholint island. And damn, if it wasn’t just as beautiful to me as it was way back when.

  • I love the music that plays as you initially set out to the beach to get your sword, then right as you triumphantly pick up and perform the signature spin-attack, the main Zelda theme kicks in! The first of many fist-pumps for me.

  • I thought the mario characters being in the game is kind of goofy but the surreal nature of their presence amplifies the themes of the game. Who would have thought a pet chain-chomp is the most powerful weapon in the history of Zelda?

  • Having only two item slots mapped to A or B is a real pain, but that was a limit of the hardware back then I guess. I’m also not a huge fan of the combat in the old top-down zelda games, they were a lot more exciting in the 3d zeldas in my opinion.

  • The dungeons in this game are not that hard at all. One or two towards the end can have puzzles that are a little obtuse or require thinking about the entire layout of the building - but very do-able.

  • I love the items in this game. Pegasus boots, to make you sprint straight into stuff like a freight train. Roc’s feather, which temporarily enables Link to remember he’s a human being with legs who can actually just jump whenever he feels like it. Flippers, that are legitimately just flippers that make him better at swimming.

  • Koholint island as a map is a charming place to explore. It doesn’t have wildly varying environments or biomes, but each area has its own sense of place and character. I only wish there was more of a reason to revisit more of the locations.

  • The plot is sad, its melancholic, its scary and surreal. As you get closer and closer to the climax, the weight of what you are doing and what is about to happen grows and grows. Are you ready to leave this world, to do what it takes to leave the island? This reflects metatextually on the player - are you ready to finish playing this game? Are you willing to do what is necessary, just to see the credits? Other games have explored themes like this more successfully and with greater focus, but even as a kid I found these ideas fascinating.

  • I feel like this maybe won’t hold up as well for people who didn’t play top down zelda games when they were younger, but I hope they would give it a shot. I haven’t played the Switch version but that looks cute and I’m assuming it makes a bunch of QOL improvements.

I love this game. I would recommend the DX version as the colours are pretty and there is an extra dungeon (which comes with a significant upgrade of your choosing). Every Zelda fan should play this , anyone interested in the Gameboy / Gameboy Colour should play this. For me it is the best gameboy game ever made , by a wide margin.
Try it, play it, find the seashells, beat the dungeons, but WHATEVER you do, don’t steal from the shop.

“…Nostalgia… …unchanged…”

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Link’s Awakening rules, it’s also one of my first ever games I played and probably one of the best ever. I love the gameboy version, I got dang good at the fishing and claw game. This was one of my go-to games for car trips before Pokemon Blue game out. I don’t think I actually beat the game until I revisited it as a teen on the gameboy pocket. Then I put it down until the switch remake a couple years ago, and felt right back at home again. As I type this I’m realizing I am starting to have nostalgia for 5 years ago.

I don’t know if I’m in the mood for it right now, or if I should wait for 10 years but I’ll follow along with this thread. Is there value in checking out the Gameboy Color version rather than the original or Switch remake? I remember the game well enough that I don’t think I would have much of a “new” experience, but I’m curious if it does anything that would have me look at the game in a new way.

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I beat this one so many times as a kid. It was easily one of my favorite GameBoy games— though Pokémon eventually supplanted it for me as it did for lots of other folks I’m sure—and arguably my favorite Zelda of them all. I’ve got the Switch remake that I only dabbled in a little, so this would be a good excuse to come back to that…

I’m juggling several things this month, so I might not end up having the time, but maybe I’ll load it up a little just for old time’s sake…

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I started Link’s Awakening DX last night on my Steam Deck, which has a nice big image with pixel perfect scaling. The pixel art is really well done. I didn’t realize I could push rocks around in the first cave, took me about an hour of exploring before I looked it up in a guide. :smiling_face_with_tear: I’m enjoying bopping around the island, and I like the owl.

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One of the top three most formative games for me. I’ve written everything I have to say on the forum before, but I’ll put it here again

  • got this game when I was learning how to read. The homie Tby Fx and I shared this when we used to talk over AIM back in the day, we both learned how to read with the guide book for the game.
  • can’t exaggerate how formative this was for me. Links awakening lives at the base of my brain stem. used to pretend to be inside the game every time I was at the beach or a pool of water when I was a kid. still kind of do!
  • the game was cited as being inspired by twin peaks. Nintendo is so funny with their release of this type of information. If you look at majora’s mask, it is so obviously twin peaks inspired, it shows a lot more direct inspiration, IMO
  • I have played this game so much, when the remake came out, I played for three days straight and 100%’d it very quickly from memory.

Best 2D Zelda that will ever be made, one of the best games ever made period. Along with Wario of this generation, it spits in the face of type-A Nintendo’s sterile conceptions and does something self-parodying which points at Nintendo’s own shortcomings.

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i have played this game far too much to NOT post in this thread. i remember my dad brought home a yellow DMG-01 with matching donkey kong land packed in. my aunt had got it for free or cheap somehow and he’d bought zelda coz he’s an old school 1980s D&D/hobbit head that wanted some fantasy. we didn’t get much beyond finding the sword initially. i remember talking to the kids outside of the library and being unsure who was talking. we didn’t know link didn’t speak! or at least, that he doesn’t speak to us, the players. characters in the game seem to respond to very specific questions but we don’t hear/read link saying em.

i think it was probably only after i’d gotten into wind waker that i went back and finished Link’s Awakening. it remains one of the most emotionally evocative games to me, thanks to the music and eerie writing.

zelda often gets mentioned alonsgide ghbli these days and although that is a more contemporary point of comparison than most remember, it’s interesting to think of marin and link’s relationship as something like mononoke, or ponyo. we deserve a dual-protagonist zelda game and the moxie LA’s team had to make a fun weird and heartfelt game is EXACTLY what would pull it off in a cool way. i’m not sure that version of nintendo still exists.

i think the remake is a remarkably thoughtful translation of the look and feel of the original. unless you are super sensitive to middling performance (which is all it is, it’s like playing a really pretty snes or gb game with a bit of slowdown and stuff). but both are such quick and breezey experiences that i would say just play both if you can.

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My first and my favorite Zelda! I have fond memories of being in my parents’ van late at night with a wild looking magnifier-light device strapped to my purple GameBoy Color and playing Link’s Awakening DX. This is also the first game I stayed up all night to beat. Pretty sure gazamcnulty farther up in the thread has a direct line into my memory banks.

I was onboard with the remake right away and while I like it well enough, there’s just something about the original/DX releases, coming out when they did, looking how they do and doing what they do…the remake can’t quite capture that magic. Perhaps it’s suitable that the game looks like a diorama of toys, an opportunity for adult-me to play with my toys in Koholint just one more time. (Also, honestly, the remake feels a bit more stuffed with collectables than the original games in a way that kind of detracts from the world itself? At least in my onion.)

This is such a breezy game that I may as well play the only version I haven’t yet: the original 1993 version. Though I should double-check where all the game-breaking oversights are…

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it occurs to me now (a few hours later) that i was basically unaware of the vast majority of video games at this point. i had played some megablast on atari ST, a tiny bit of sonic and california games on sega but very little else. zelda’s fantasy adventure was totally alien! it’s a feeling i’d basically forgotten. i was not video game literate! i didn’t think i remembered being that way.

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