Your Move: Link's Awakening
In 1993, I bought a Game Boy, which came bundled with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I also bought a copy of Kirby’s Dream Land, because, as I told my mom, “Zelda games are boring.” I have no idea where I came up with that idea, but it stuck, and I didn’t give Link’s Awakening a chance until after I was done with Kirby.
Once I finally started it though, I was entranced. The game starts with your character, Link, washing ashore from a shipwreck. A young girl rescues Link and nurses him back to health. Link finds his sword and shield, and begins an adventure to return home.
Link’s Awakening was unlike any game I had played before. Despite the Game Boy’s sickly black-and-green color palette, the island the game takes place on felt colorful and alive. There was life in every corner of the game – it’s teeming with odd characters, sometimes vital to your progression through the quest, but just as often there to add to the curious nature of the island. Series mainstays Princess Zelda and the evil sorceror Ganon are nowhere to be found, and it’s not the fate of the world at stake, but rather the mystery of the island, making the story of this game much more focused and personal than previous titles.
Tomorrow, Nintendo releases a remake of Link’s Awakening for the Switch, and I couldn’t be happier with it. The colors are vibrant (finally), and the whole game is presented like a cute diorama. The main theme is performed by a string quartet - matching the sparse instrumentation the Game Boy could muster. I don’t understand how, but this game looks, feels, and sounds just like it did in my imagination when I was eight years old.