It’s high time to expose myself to the pitchforks and torches of the internet. Hi, my name is Dominick Ashtear and I’m about to nitpick about The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
But before you get the wrong idea, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is my favorite video game of all time. And don’t get me wrong — of course the remake was amazing. Wandering around Koholint Island again brought me no small amount of joy. Being able to see all those characters and locations rendered to look like a toy set was genius. Still, there were a few changes in the remake that rubbed me the wrong way.
Spoilers and opinions ahead, so be warned.
1. Overworld camera
One of the biggest changes to the game is the overworld view. Koholint displays as one continuous screen instead of a grid of squares that Link scrolls through. For the most part, I think this is a great idea. The island feels more like one big world rather than a series of interconnected areas. However, the first time I wandered too close to Mabe Village’s boundary, I was met with a jarring sight.
There are flying octorocks right over the wall! I’m not supposed to see those guys for at least another hour of playtime. This happens throughout the game, too. You’re always getting little peeks at upcoming areas just by standing too close to the edge. It takes away the sense of mystery surrounding Koholint, as you always know what’s around the next corner. I would have liked to see the screen stop at these boundaries, keeping those areas secret for later in the game.
Also, this completely annihilates the screen warp glitch, one of the most fun bugs in the original game.
2. Lack of satisfying rewards for the hardest objectives
In the original and DX versions of Link’s Awakening, there were 14 full hearts and 26 secret seashells (though you only needed 20 to get the Koholint Sword). It was not a collectathon game. This time around, we have 20 full hearts and 50 seashells, not to mention Mario enemy figurines you can win in the Trendy Game and place all over the village. Forty shells gets you the Koholint Sword, but there are still 10 more, with a literal meter keeping track.
Your reward for collecting all the hearts is a full life bar — no changes here as Link has never received a special reward for this in the past. However, when working toward collecting all the secret seashells and figurines, players might be salivating in excitement over what they would get. If the Koholint Sword is worth 40 shells, what could possibly be worth 50? And what about these mysterious new figurines?
Well, as it turns out, the reward for getting all of the game’s secret seashells is just a Chamber Tile, a piece for the game’s most contentious new feature, the Chamber Dungeon.
As a side note, I enjoy the Chamber Dungeon, so it will not be appearing on this list. And getting this Chamber Tile is still better than getting all of the figurines in the game and learning that the prize is… nothing. Very exciting.
3. Too many secret seashells
The original game had 26 secret seashells, but you only needed 20 for the Koholint Sword. Still, it felt like there was a good density of them scattered around the island. Every so often there would be a chest, a suspicious patch of dirt, or a strange clump of bushes, and you’d feel it in your jellies that there was a shell in that spot. By doubling the amount, however, the developers created an interesting problem — where do we put all of these things? Turns out, they bury them everywhere.
With the new Seashell Sensor, you’ll hear a chime every few minutes. Sometimes you’ll be able to get it right away. Sometimes you’ll have to come back with a new item. Most often, however, you’ll just need to dig up every patch of soil on the screen until you find the secret seashell.
I found this to be an unnecessary break in the exploration and action, especially when the shovel would refuse to dig certain spots for some reason. Considering the unexciting reward for collecting all the secret seashells, I feel like the number of new ones could have been smaller.
4. Link’s design
I will say that I love the look of the game overall and absolutely adore all of the new character designs. The development team did an amazing job reimagining Link’s Awakening, which could not have been an easy task. However, from the moment they showed our hero back in February, something seemed a bit off to me. I couldn’t quite place it. That is, until I placed a promotional keychain next to a similar-sized figure…
5. Not enough changes
The Link’s Awakening remake features so many little changes. The Trendy Game. Fishing. Bosses getting an extra attack. Bottles. Extra warp points. Shield, sword, boots, and bracelet mapped to their own buttons. Power-up music no longer being the most annoying sound in the world. And so many more. It even featured a huge addition in the form of Chamber Dungeon. As a remake, it only makes sense to change things up a bit.
So then why isn’t there more? I feel that there could have been any number of things that could have been added to the remake that would enhance the old game. A new dungeon, perhaps. More item combinations, especially considering how prominent they are on the back of the box. Personally, I was hoping for a “Second Quest.” And would it have killed them to let you skip the compass reminder text?
All this said, the Link’s Awakening remake is an incredible game. I enjoyed every minute of it and can’t wait to explore Koholint Island yet again. However, its biggest problem is that it had to take what may very well be a perfect game and spruce it up for modern audiences. Old-school fans like me are also basically impossible to please.
Did I miss any minor quibbles? Are there any nits you found yourself picking? Let us know!