Tomorrow, the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening will finally be out, giving a fresh shot of classic Legend of Zelda for fans who want a break from the game-changing Breath of the Wild. But before then, the fans can see what the general consensus is among the publications that have had a chance to play it early.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has always been something of an oddball in the Zelda canon. It was the first Zelda game released for a handheld device, in this case the Game Boy back in 1993. It swapped out familiar staples of the series, like Hyrule and Princess Zelda, for the mysterious setting of Koholint Island and a brand a new cast of characters for Link to interact with. The whole plot revolved around waking up a sleeping fish-god, and sometimes players fought enemies from the Super Mario series. It was strange.
That being said, it’s those same oddball elements that has made the game a low-key favorite among fans for decades. Those fans been excited to see a remake of Link’s Awakening with new gameplay, and it looks like they have good reason to be, according to the early reviews.
USGamer (Nadia Oxford)
"The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening remake for the Switch improves most of the flaws from the original game while maintaining (or enhancing) everything that makes Link's Game Boy adventure a classic. Its shiny new coat of paint suits it well, even if slowdown issues pop up from time to time. A few hours of play is all it takes to remind you why Zelda fans love Link's Awakening so very much."
GameSpot (Peter Brown)
"If you haven't touched a classic Zelda game in a while, Link's Awakening will almost instantly transport you back to the '90s. It's simple, in many ways, but the orchestrated journey still conveys a sense of adventure, and this new version is without question the best way to experience it. And more than anything else, it will put a smile on your face. Remakes are a dime a dozen nowadays and often easy to overlook. Don't make that mistake with Link's Awakening."
Game Informer (Jeff Cork)
Link’s Awakening has always held a special place in my heart, but asking someone to go back to the original release is tough. With this remake, people don’t have any excuses for not playing through one of the best (and strangest) entries. I envy those of you who will be experiencing this for the first time, though revisiting it all these years later is still an absolute pleasure.
Polygon (Russ Frushtick)
Link’s Awakening is a special adventure and a perfect introduction to even the youngest would-be Zelda fans, but it does fall short at times. The striking new presentation is stellar, even if the game can’t quite keep up with the splendor on the technical side. And the slight enhancements made to the original’s gameplay are mostly for good, even if the biggest new feature (Chamber Dungeons) doesn’t offer much. If you can get over these issues, you’ll find a charming recreation of one of the most approachable Zelda adventures ever made.
IGN (Joe Skrebels)
Link’s Awakening retains the style and feel of its 1993 self, but looks and controls like a game – albeit a retro-styled one – made in 2019. In doing so, this feels like it was made in some alternate present, where games remained in 2D, puzzle-focused and strange, but tech improved to support it all. You could, I guess, call it time travel.
Forbes (Ollie Barder)
"Overall, this is a excellent remake of an already faultless Zelda game. If you never played the Game Boy original, then you absolutely need to pick this up. If, like me, you grew up playing this game, then there is a lot of new content to keep you busy. While Breath of the Wild was the game many bought their Switch for, Link’s Awakening has only reinforced that decision for me. So buckle up and let a friendly owl show you what Koholint Island has to offer."
ScreenRant (Scott Baird)
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is practically the same game that was released in 1993 - for better or for worse. The original version of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is still a great game after all these years and the remake has the same great gameplay wrapped in a more pleasing package. The lack of compelling new content and the short length of the game are two disappointing aspects of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and returning players shouldn't expect much outside of improvements to the base game, but it's still the same excellent title that it was back in 1993.
Kotaku (Jason Schreier)
"You may recall that two years ago, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an all-time great that revitalized the iconic series. The company’s latest Zelda game is so radically different that they basically feel like different genres, but when taken together, they help explain what makes The Legend of Zelda so special. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the vastness of a polished, beautiful open world full of strange places to explore; on the other, there’s the density of an island packed with secrets. If the two games have one thing in common, and offer one reason to keep playing Zelda all these years later, it’s this: They both make it feel pretty damn incredible to swing a sword."
If there’s one thing that most critics agree is less than great in Link’s Awakening, however, it’s the new "Chamber Dungeons" feature that was added for the remake. As players clear the regular dungeons, they unlock dungeon “parts” that can then be arranged onto a grid however they like, effectively allowing them to create custom dungeons. It sounds interesting on paper, but most agree that it’s hampered by overly simplistic pieces and the inability to share creations without the use of Amiibo figures. In others words, fans shouldn’t expect to find a proper “Zelda Maker” in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
Still, it appears to be basically everything a fan could want from a classic Zelda game. Even with the tepid bonus content of Link's Awakening's special edition, it seems like its nails the series’ fundamentals and offers yet another deep adventure for players old and new.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is out on September 20 for the Nintendo Switch.