For all intents and purposes, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Nintendo Switch is as faithful as Zelda remakes come. It’s quite the visual overhaul à la Ocarina of Time 3D, but it doesn’t go to the extremes that Majora’s Mask 3D went to in order to change up the game. It’s very similar to the Game Boy original.
But it’s not 1:1, and Link’s Awakening’s remake is almost deceptive when it comes to its differences. Many of them are minor, but they begin to pile up over time, offering a fundamentally different games when all is said and done. The remake doesn’t overwrite the original, because it is just too different.
10 No Photo Side Quest
Funny enough, this is a similarity the Link’s Awakening remake has with the game’s original release. The photo side quest actually wasn’t added to the game until Link’s Awakening DX on the Game Boy Color. At the same time, is that really a good reason to omit the side quest? After all, it’s Link’s Awakening DX that’s considered the definitive version.
For the remake to remove the photo side quest (when the Switch has an actual camera snapshot button) is downright bizarre. It’s the same problem Game Freak ran into when developing Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. There’s no reason not to include features from a re-release that were meant to replace the original release.
9 The Color Dungeon
The Color Dungeon makes its return from Link’s Awakening DX unlike the photo side quest, but it does comes with its changes. Not only are the visuals naturally different given the aesthetic of the game, but the Tunic system has been revamped so that Link isn’t permanently getting rid of his green tunic.
Originally, completing the Color Dungeon awarded Link either a blue or red tunic, the former granting extra defense and the latter offense. Unfortunately, this meant Link could never wear the green tunic again. The remake changes things so fans can retain their green tunic after the fact.
8 More Heart Pieces
Anyone who says the Link’s Awakening remake adds nothing substantial clearly isn’t paying attention to the game. Very few 2D Zelda games feature a Link who can carry 20 full Heart Containers. Link’s Awakening wasthe first game after A Link to the Past to trim down the heart count.
The remake adds more hearts altogether, heavily boosting up the amount of side content in the game. There are now a whopping 32 Heart Pieces. The original game, in comparison, only had twelve. That’s not only an insane amount of content, it fundamentally changes the pace of the game.
7 Even More Seashells
If 20 new Heart Pieces aren’t enough, the remake also goes out of its way to up the Secret Seashell count. In the main game, Link only needed to collect 20 before he could get the Lv. 2 Sword upgrade. They were spread out over Koholint and savvy players could nab the sword before the fifth dungeon.
In the remake, however, the Secret Seashell count has increased and Link can now collect 50 Secret Seashells over the course of the game. This does mean there are new rewards, but it also means that the Lv. 2 Sword Upgrade has been pushed back further, meaning that players won’t be getting that sword until much closer to the end.
6 The Boomerang
Speaking of Link’s Awakening weapons, the Boomerang is universally considered to be the single best weapon in the original game. The reward for the series’ very first trading sequence, the Boomerang basically obliterates any enemy in the game in a single hit. It can even take out the final boss with a single blow.
Naturally, the remake rebalances the Boomerang so it isn’t totally overpowered. This is a double-edged sword, however. On one hand, it makes the game harder — something The Legend of Zelda desperately needs as a franchise. On the other hand, it removes everything interesting and novel about the Boomerang.
5 Dampé Side Quest
It perhaps goes without saying, but Dampé’s dungeon-building side quest wasn’t in the original release. Clearly modeled after Mario Maker, the dungeon side quest is a bit more single player-oriented than Nintendo may have initially allowed audiences to believe. That said, it’s implemented rather well and is pretty fun.
It not only carefully teaches players how to build dungeons, sticking with it ultimately nets players a bunch of different rooms to mix and match. It is a shame that there’s no online component, but dungeons can also be used to grind for rupees, making getting the Bow and Arrow far simpler and less tedious.
4 The Difficulty
Link’s Awakening was never the most difficult Zelda game, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Perhaps easier than any of the three games before it, but reasonably difficult overall. The remake does admittedly make the game easier by sheer virtue of offering players 20 Heart Containers, but Hero Mode turns LA into a game very reminiscent of the original Zelda.
It’s genuinely challenging and Link will die often should players choose to approach combat recklessly. It turns Link’s Awakening into a more immersive, slower-paced game. This is perhaps for the best, considering the remake’s Quality of Life features take away from the play time in the long run.
Bottles didn’t play a role in the original Link’s Awakening, but they didn’t necessarily need to either. Not only was the game easy enough to get through without Bottles, both Fairies and Crazy Tracy offered good enough alternatives to storing potions or fairies in a Bottle. Of course, Bottles being a Zelda fixture, they’re naturally added to the remake.
While they make the main game far too easy, they’re used very well in Hero Mode. Bottles can only catch Fairies, but Hero Mode holds off introducing catchable Fairies until a few dungeons in, forcing players to get accustomed to the game before they earn healing. It’s a nice way of implementing Bottles.
2 The Trendy Game
The crane game, formally known as the Trendy Game in-game, was fairly easy in Link’s Awakening’s original release. Players could knock it out early and never have to return. Not just that, it was incredibly simple to manipulate. The remake changes things, however, by making the Trendy Game more like a real crane game.
Not only is it much harder to hold onto a prize, the Crane is quite slow, meaning that timing plays an incredibly important role. It’s not unusual to nab a prize, drop it, and then have to push it towards the drop box over the course of multiple plays. The Trendy Game also features a ton of new prizes this time around.
Fishing also sees something of a change. Just like the Trendy Game, fishing in the original game was more or less over as soon as Link got his Heart Piece. This time, there are different lures, multiple rewards, and several different fish to catch. There’s always value to returning to the fishing hole and indulging in it.If there’s anything wrong with it, it’s that it doesn’t follow the modern Zelda fishing structure where Link just pays once. Instead, Link has to keep repaying to catch new fish. It’s quite frustrating, especially early on, but going in with a healthy wallet means that players can just make cash off the fish while enjoying the updated mini-game.