When the Link's Awakening remake was recently announced in a Nintendo Direct I was in. Link's Awakening was already one of the best Zelda games in the franchise and remaking it seemed like a great idea. I pre-ordered the Dreamer Edition and it finally released last Friday and I wanted to write up my first thoughts as well as recap a bit of what others are saying about it.

A Worthy Remake of a Classic Game

In a nutshell the Link's Awakening remake is a very worthy remake for one of the best video games of all time. You can tell that a lot of love and attention was poured into this game by Grezzo and Nintendo and a very keen eye was paid to recreate the original game nearly beat for beat. That said, it's not perfect and a few glaring issues keep it from a perfect score.

Link's Awakening Suffers From Framerate Problems

The biggest issue that of the Link's Awakening remake is that it suffers from framerate issues. The game mostly keeps to a 60 hz/fps rate but at times dips to 30 and it's quite noticeable. Apparently this was an issue that many people noticed when the game was demoed originally that has improved but some issues still remain. I hope Greezo and Nintendo are working on an update because playing this game entirely lag free would be incredible. That said, it's a great game, you're just gonna notice the lag or at least, I do.

The Score

As a huge fan of the original Link's Awakening I consider that Gameboy the Gameboy Color DX to be nearly perfect games. Grezzo and Nintendo decided to go with a score that remakes the original chiptunes in a Breath of the Wild style orchestral motif. The end result is a very personal sounding score that makes you feel like the musicians are in the room playing along with the game. The recording of the songs is quite dynamic and the musicians themselves put a ton of style into the songs creating something very special. With that, this is one part of the game i'm not entirely sure about. The music is fantastic but as someone that adores chiptunes on the Gameboy i'm not sure the music is better or on par with the original score. Not all aspects of a remake will be better and for me, perhaps, i'm still stuck in the past with respect to the score.

The Remake Changes A Few Things

A few things I noticed that the remake changes were the opening cinematic. It's fairly faithful to the opening Gameboy scenes except the new anime style doesn't have music. The opening Gameboy scenes and score are forever burned into my brain so when the new cutscene dropped the music this was one change I noticed. Instead the new cutscene uses the visuals and sound effects to create tension instead of leaning into the score. It's a fun change and works quite well.

The Trendy game you play to collect the Yoshi doll and other items is one iconic element of the original Link's Awakening and they include it in the remake with a twist. In the old Trendy game the items moved around in a circle on a conveyer belt and the new game forgoes that entirely. The Trendy game claw in the remake, just like claw games in real life, can drop your items in odd ways that feel cheap but in the end this version of the game might be easier. This isn't a huge difference, but something I did notice.

The Visuals

Any review on the Link's Awakening Remake is going to mention the new lush toy like 3D visuals and how incredible they are and everyone would be correct. I won't talk much more about it but will note that the new interpretations of the Gameboy classic is quite bold and sometimes goofy. That said, the original game was pretty goofy too.

The Influence of Link Between Worlds

One thing I haven't seen discussed when people talk about the new Link's Awakening remake is how it feels like a proper follow up to Link Between Worlds. Link Between Worlds was a sequel to Link to the Past on the 3DS and the Link's Awakening Remake really feels like a continuation of that Zelda gameplay, art and musical style. Link Between Worlds didn't feature such a shiny 3D style, my guess is because the 3DS wasn't quite capable of it. That said, if Nintendo continues with the flagship Zelda games ala Breath of the Wild and the top-down Link Between Worlds / Link's Awakening style of game I'm in.

To compare Link Between Worlds and the new Link's Awakening Remake check the Link Between Worlds Trailer below.


The Story So Far

I've played the game up to the Slime Dungeon and so far, it's been incredibly fun. Link's Awakening isn't a very long game and so far they haven't added anything to it in terms of extending the story. I'll do a full review once I'm done with the game but if the game ends like it starts, it's gonna be really fun.

Travis   Admin wrote on 09/23/2019 at 02:29am

I finished it earlier and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to list off all the ways that it’s amazing.

But one thing I will say that you didn’t touch on much is the dungeon maker.

Eeeeehhhhh you know, the rest of the game doesn’t suffer because of its inclusion so I don’t really count this as a ding against it but, wow, this is entirely uninteresting to me. It just doesn’t hit any notes for me, because it’s all stuff you’ve done before, just remixed. There’s not a lot of room to do anything interesting there.

I had thought this was a beta test for a Zelda maker, but I read an interview where apparently the devs were asked to make something like Mario Maker for this and struggled to find a fun way to do it.

That, and the FPS dips (I think it goes well below 30), are the only complaints I have about this. The original Link’s Awakening was a strong contender for my favorite Zelda game, and this remake pushed it just high enough so I can say yes, this is it. This is my favorite. I love the new art style. I don’t think it’s necessarily better or worse than the original blocky pixels, but it’s a great modern yet simple take on it. But really, it’s the QoL updates that let you do things without so much micromanaging.

And the new score, holy cow. Yeah, the original chiptunes are great like you said, but this score feels like what the composers originally intended, even though the Gameboy couldn’t quite pull it off.

I think the score is symbolic to the game as a whole: the original and the remake can coexist well. This feels like the original, so much that I still remembered where some stuff was, and the maps from the old game are still accurate (except for a few minor things). But this could also be brand new. And in this way it excels in a way most remakes don’t: it almost immaculately recreates the original without being beholden to its mechanics that may have aged out.

To put it simply: this is one of my favorite games of all time, recreated to be even better than I ever remembered it.

Travis   Admin wrote on 09/23/2019 at 02:49am

Also I’m not seeing a bunch of similarity with Link Between Worlds, honestly. I don’t think people are talking about it much because it’s a very different visual language. I’ll give you the music a bit, but visually it seems more like an attempt to bridge the 2D and N64ish era rather than doing its own thing. It doesn’t seem like just a platform limitation but a whole different set of inspirations.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/23/2019 at 05:13am

It’s somewhat subjective comparing two games but in terms of Zelda games less so maybe. The gameplay differences in Worlds and the Awakening remake are pretty stark in the Worlds is quite a bit faster and in the Awakening remake Link snaps to one of eight directions and in general feels a bit slower.

That said, I’ve played both and just played Worlds to get the feel back and they are more similar than different which is a good thing. Zelda timeline wise Awakening happens right after Link to the Past and Worlds after that so I think it makes sense that they are styled together some if contain differences enough to give them a unique voice.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/23/2019 at 05:15am

Sorry the phone tapping made some of that hard to read. I still think the games feel similar but, it’s not a huge deal that everyone agrees with that.

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 09/23/2019 at 04:03pm

Back in my day games ran at 15 fps and we liked it! :) It is sad to hear about the FPS issue. Do you see the same performance docked and in handheld?

Travis   Admin wrote on 09/23/2019 at 05:09pm

I never tried it handheld, only docked. It definitely wasn’t game killing and it seemed like it was mostly around transitions from inside a dungeon to outside, or after fast traveling.

Will_Ball   Game Mod   Super Member wrote on 09/23/2019 at 05:34pm

Interesting analysis: https://youtu.be/UnckUk830HA

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/23/2019 at 06:00pm

Thanks for that video Will.

PS the Gameboy games could run at 59 hz. smile

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 09/24/2019 at 01:47am

I had the original game on the original Gameboy (not the Color) and loved it. I forgot all about the claw machine! I'm glad it's among your favorite games. It was definitely one of my most favorite Gameboy games! I haven't seen or read much about the remake, though. I don't have a Switch yet, so it's not exactly on my radar at the moment. It does look good though!

The FPS issue sucks, but thanks to the video shared by Will_Ball, it seems the current solution is to run it from internal memory. I don't know everything about the Switch, but if you get a hard copy of the game that comes on a cartridge or card, can you install it and have it run from internal memory, or does it only run from the card? It seems that the cartridge is an SD card, is that right or is it similar? Or, are you only able to install and run it from internal memory if you purchase the digital version? I think Steam has made me quite used to digital versions of games, which I think are great, because hard copies are easy to lose or damage. But, if the place hosting the game stops operating, then you essentially lose the game, or your ability to re-install it.

Travis   Admin wrote on 09/24/2019 at 02:12am

You can't install the cartridge games to internal memory. Which sucks but it makes sense.

However, there are more graphically (and presumably data) intense games on the Switch that run fine, so I'm hoping this is just an optimization issue they can patch.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/24/2019 at 02:13am

I have the game cart which does not need an install to play. Some games have a hefty update and they mostly run off the internal SD card but Link's Awakening runs entirely on the game cart. For now anyway.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/24/2019 at 02:14am

> I think Steam has made me quite used to digital versions of games, which I think are great, because hard copies are easy to lose or damage. But, if the place hosting the game stops operating, then you essentially lose the game, or your ability to re-install it.

Yep, that's why I buy physical if I can. In the case of the Wii it's now the difference between being able to play a game and not. I bought the physical version of Tetris on Wii and can still play it whereas the download version goes with your system.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/24/2019 at 05:37am
Travis   Admin wrote on 09/24/2019 at 06:00pm

Ha, now I wish I still had a save file with Marin.

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