When Nintendo announced Link’s Awakening I was pretty keen. It’s one of the few games in the series that I’ve never really played and having the chance to play it in a fully remade form was genuinely exciting. And then I saw the visuals. I was less than impressed.
Having now spent a considerable amount of time with Link’s Awakening on Switch, I’m confident I was being a spoilt brat.
Link’s Awakening Preview
Straight up. Link’s Awakening on Switch looks incredible. Whether playing on the TV or in handheld mode, it is a stunning looking video game. Only Nintendo seems capable of creating visuals that leap from the screen the way most of its games do.
Link’s Awakening is no exception. The chibi-style and shiny quality of everything make it seem like the game is a diorama or set of toys come to life. It’s unbelievably bright and colourful, so much so that going back to any other game is really like going back to the bad old days of brown and grey.
There’s a lot of blur too, to simulate depth of field. The overall look is like photography using a tilt-shift lens to create a fake miniature.
So as you play, it’s almost as though you’re leaning over a table, moving The Legend of Zelda toys around and simply imagining the action. It’s unbelievably cute, adorable and charming. And it’s like nothing Nintendo has ever done before.
Certainly not with Zelda, but not with any of its other games either. Nintendo frequently takes these risks with visuals, Windwaker for example, and it pays off nine times out of 10.
With Link’s Awakening, Nintendo has certainly done it again.
Brand-new coat of paint aside, Link’s Awakening plays like the amazing old school Zelda games of the 16-bit era. Let’s be honest, Link to the Past is probably the best Zelda game. Ocarina of Time is pretty much just a 3D remake.
Link’s Awakening on Switch plays almost exactly like Link to the Past. Having never played the original GameBoy version, I don’t have the experience with the control issues. I can imagine them though, knowing that the GameBoy only had two buttons and a D-Pad.
Now, with all the buttons available on the Switch, Link’s Awakening controls like a dream. Movement is handled by the left-stick while you press B to use your sword and hold R to use your shield. Moving the shield to a dedicated button frees up the X and Y buttons for your other items.
Having played for a few hours, I’ve already collected Roc’s Feather, Magic Powder and a few other cheeky items. Being able to use the feather to jump while also having access to the shield, sword and magic powder feels great. Movement is silky smooth and general gameplay is great. It has that total Nintendo polish and never ceases to be fun.
The sidescrolling sections are just as hilarious and out of place as they were in the original, but that’s what makes this game the game it is. As do the random Shy Guys, Chain Chomps, Yoshi toys and other odd inclusions.
You’ll also see Moblins, Octoroks, Cuccos and plenty of other Zelda mainstays. They’re all rendered in the cutsy, plastic chibi-style and they too, look great.
Playing Link’s Awakening is genuinely a good time and for the entire time I’ve been playing, I’ve not stopped smiling. There are only a few games that can make you feel that way, Link’s Awakening is one of them.
I’ve still got quite a long way to go to get through the game but I’m looking forward to every moment.
Look for our review soon.
Link’s Awakening will be available on Switch on September 20, 2019.
Link’s Awakening is being reviewed on Switch using a digital code provided by Nintendo.