Throw Back Thursday – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (DX)

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This week, I’m going with a portable game that has some real depth to it. Released in June of 1993 The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening is the fourth game in the series and the first portable game in the franchise as well as the first to have a story unrelated to the main plot of the franchise as well. It started as a experimental unsanctioned project, to see just what the Original Game Boy’s hardware could do, after hours by programmer Kazuaki Morita after hours. As time went by other staff members joined in in what some at Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development saw as a “After School Club”. After the launch of “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in October of 1991 Director Takashi Tezuka asked for official permission to develop a portable game. With a 8 dungeons, 2D and over the top 3D game play elements, and a open world that seems almost as big as the SNES’s, there’s plenty to make you want to play this title even when your not on the go.

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WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

This game’s opening cinematic has link on a ship in the middle of a fierce storm when suddenly the ship is destroyed. Link wakes up in a strange house and is greeted by a girl named Marion. You learn you are not in Hyrule but the Island of Koholint. He learns that the only way to leave the island is to wake the Wind Fish, but the Nightmares are trying to keep it asleep and will do anything to stop you from collecting the 8 Siren Instruments that can awaken it. Game play has that standard top-down perspective mostly but has has segments on side scrolling, jumping, and swimming. You’ll play mini games of grab-claw, fishing, and trading goods. There are lots of secret caves, and even cameo’s from other Nintendo characters. There’s actually more to this game than most NES games of the time. In the DX color remake of this title there’s a secret dungeon that can give you a new tunic with different powers and ever a camera shop for use with the Game Boy Camera and Game Boy Printer if you have them.
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HOW DOES IT PLAY?

It plays great and remarkably like the SNES Zelda, which is incredible considering the limited power of the original Game Boy. You are able to map any piece of equipment to the A or B button, which makes it easy to customize the controls and some interesting combinations (Bow and Bombs button’s pushed together makes exploding arrows!). While this can make for a lot of menu swaps because of only having two buttons, it does give you time to think to and pauses the game, which is always a important feature on a portable game. The dungeons have a good amount of variety for only a few shades of grey, (the DX version color adds even more to the experience) and can provide a good challenge even for experienced Zelda players. Overall this is plays just as you would expect from a Zelda title. So get out you 3DS or check that dusty closet box for your trusty old portable and give this Zelda a play through, because with all the rush of this season a great handheld game is perfect for a quick fix on the go.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON GAMING

When this title came out, most Game Boy games were good solid games but nothing that would stick with you, but this games showed that even the low powered Game Boy could deliver a game that always made you wanting more. The game repetitively appears “Top Game List” and “Best Of” list for Zelda, Game Boy,  Portable,  Nintendo, and even Greatest Games for the last 15+ years and I expect will continue to do so.  I still enjoy this one as my favorite of the portable Zelda titles, which is a impressive list on its own. With few games on the original Game Boy that are must-haves, this is first on the list and one of the most original and unique games for the system.

So get out you 3DS or check that dusty closet box for your trusty old portable and give this Zelda a play through, because with all the rush of this season a great handheld game is perfect for a quick fix on the go.

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