Sunday, 28 December 2008

10 Cool Things About Zelda: Link's Awakening

Mention the Gameboy version of Zelda to a random person in the street, and they'd probably think you were some complete nutter and stare at you, walking away in disgust. However, mention it to some geeky-looking people, and their eyes will glaze over, and weird electronic noises will burble forth from their mouths. This is your cue to run, since they're probably possessed by satan or something.

Nevertheless, the Gameboy Zelda (Link's Awakening, not the new ones) is a damn fine game. Damn fine, with infinite swearwords tacked onto the end. While most Gameboy games had boring covers, this one was gold, thus indicating it's coolness. Despite having owned (well, my sister did) the game for years on end, I never completed it, actually getting as far as level 8 before throwing it into a corner and letting the batteries decay and rot. Since my move to University though, I have found myself with a suspiciously large amount of free time - there was only one thing for it - to download a Gameboy emulator... and ZELDA!

Unfortunately the only emulator I could find was French, luckily however I am fluent in that language, so after three hours of fruitless struggling with it, finally got it working. And what a glorious, yet sad and pathetic experience it was, as I sat in the corner of my room, being simply stared at by all sane people. But I proved them wrong - I completed it! Aha! Unfortunately I wasn't able to find the extra dungeon (this being the colour DX version) which I would be annoyed about had I actually paid any money for it.

Instead of writing some kind of dull and lifeless review, below are the top 10 reasons why this game is so cool, including screenshots of the finale, which I can't find anywhere else on the net. Could I be, therefore, the saddest person ever?

1 - Cool-Ass Weapons

In most head-down games, you have pathetic things such as guns to shoot the enemy with. Or something, since this is one of the only Gameboy games I've actually played. However, by waffling on, I hope to trick you all into believing in my expert nature. Anyway, when you start the game, having been washed up after a shipwreck, you only have your shield, helpfully nicked by a jolly fat man, although I have my suspicions that he actually smashed Link round the head with a mallet to steal all his money. Note in the picture above there is a feather. Now, the sheer offensive capabilities of a feather may at first seem extremely small, but in fact this is Roc's Feather - it can make you jump! Link, obviously being unable to jump before, you see. The only thing is, I can't imagine why a feather would make you only jump. Wouldn't it make you fly? Or was Roc, the giant bird of legend in truth only a hopper, hiding this embarrassing secret by being all big and scary?

In the picture on the right, you can see Link mercilessly attacking a chicken, one of the many perks of this game. In face, if you use the fire rod, you can set the chicken alight! Ha ha! The Level 2 sword can also be used to attack chickens, albeit to a less successful degree. It will, though, fire swords at your enemies. A sword that fires swords.... cor.

2 - Level Entrances
Okay, not all level entrances, just this one. It's a giant cross-eyed fish. With an open mouth. And you go into this fish to find an entire dungeon, complete with doors and stone walls inside. From the look of surprise on the fish's face, I'd say that he accidentally swallowed the dungeon, and is simply waiting, biding his time until it... travels through his system. It's great inventiveness though - why go through a boring door when you can leap into the mouth of a fish and exit through... well we're not told how Link gets out, and I don't think we want to know.

3 - Blobby Things
There are many terrible threats that face Link on his epic journey. There are also many lame threats. One such are the little red or green blobs, that pop up every so often with signs saying "please kill me". You'd think a blob with no arms or legs would pose no threat whatsoever, and you'd be right. This is probably because that with no mouths, they're always on the verge of starvation. When they are cunningly cut in half, they create 2 more mini blobs... which stop you from running for a bit. Oh NO! Better get those insurance documents up to date.

4 - Sad Loners
In games like this, you need to go to special places to buy or trade for new weapons. Now, usually these places are in the main village, so the shopkeepers can take a stroll and chat to their friends, or get a bite to eat by attacking the chickens. Not the guy above, however. For some reason, he believes that the best, most busiest place for prospective trade is a small cave on a beach teeming with monsters. And all he does is stand in a puddle of mouldy water, clutching desperately at his boomerang (No, a real boomerang... minds like sewers) hoping some idiot would appear to get it. I appeared.

On a side note, if you pick up an item from the shop in the village, hold it above your head and run around the shopkeeper three times then out the door, you get it for free (although he murders you next time you enter). This does not work in real life.

5 - Weird Monster-Druggies
At different points in the game, Link will meet some weird jelly-bean like monsters. Fair enough, you'd think, just eat them, or failing that, attack them. However, doing that makes the screen shake violently, and it's you who loses life, boyo. But if you sprinkle some 'magic' powder onto them, they get all drugged up (strange that, eh?) and start to say things like "Hey mon" or talk about game design. Yes - the designers wrote themselves into the game! Now, if I were one of these people, I'd choose a more flattering form than a sentient bean, but they were Japanese...

6 - Little Marin
Link has a girlfriend! Woohoo! And since you play Link, that means you have a girlfriend too! Well, for the majority of people who would play this game to it's conclusion, a collection of 20 pixels is about as close to a real girl as they're ever likely to get, present company excepted. Poor little Marin - all she wants to do is sing her song, but is forever harassed by monsters and giant rabbits. And does Link care? No siree.

7 - Seashells!
Around the island there are many seashells to collect. It's unclear whether these naturally grow under bushes or inside trees; or if someone meanly hid them all in such weird and wacky locations. The fact is that they're there and Link has to collect 20 so that he can go to the Seashell Mansion to get his level 2 sword. Strange really, since I would have preferred a seashell-based weapon - perhaps a dangerous mollusk or even a cunning cuttlefish. Ah well, there's an idea for next time.

8 - The Mad Batter
There are also many villains in this game. But only one, the Mad Batter, is so incredibly lame as to actually help you. If you sprinkle powder on his amazing Temple Of Evil (tm) you wake him up. What's he going to do to you... oh no, make you carry more bombs / arrows / powder! Gasp! Poor Link, having to suffer by carrying more weaponry in this cunning assault. If only all the villains in the game were this generous. Instead of fighting the dungeon bosses, they'd just give Link the instruments he's after, because "they're a bit heavy and unwieldy to carry". Unfortunately the joke would be on them, since Link can carry swords, rods, boomerangs and eight giant instruments with the greatest of ease.

9 - Animal Village
Animal Village rocks, basically. If the normal village bores you, then go to Animal Village, where the inhabitants are... animals. And dream about being turned into carrots and stuff. Really, there's not that much you can say - the fact that it's a village full of animals really speaks for itself. Oh, and there's a female goat who writes to this man near the other village pretending to be a beautiful woman. Probably a commentary on the internet or something - full of goats...

10 - The End
So Link has defeated all the monsters and got the instruments - all that's left is to play them in front of the giant egg to open it (internal game logic, don't worry about it, it'll only hurt). But this is not the end - Link must face 6 whole monsters inside the egg, whose weaknesses range from being shot once to being shot twice. After this thrilling fight set to comedy music, Link emerges victorious.. but what awaits him?
Fair enough, you must climb a magical staircase - for a game this long, a magical staircase is de rigour. Then the owl, who has guided you throughout comes down to have a nice little chat - he wasn't an evil owl, but in fact a good one. Now who would have seen that coming? And then we get to meet the mystical magical Windfish, whom you have sought to awaken for the whole game. It is, in fact -

Even the caption editors expressed surprise. The Windfish is, in fact, a giant novelty flying whale. It turns out that the whole island is a dream the Windfish had when asleep, and when it wakes, all will vanish. By defeating the monsters, or Nightmares, Link helped the Windfish to wake. But hang on Link - because of this, Marin will no longer exist - you murdered her and her world for the sake of an insane-looking whale? If I were Link, I'd just smash an iron bar over the Windfish's head so he falls 'asleep' again. Sorted.

The island disappears, and Link is left drifting in the wreckage of his ship. In the wreckage in the middle of the sea with no hope of rescue. Well done Link!


  1. This is pretty much why I loved Link's Awakening.

  2. I've owned Link to the Past on the SNES, Ocraina of Time and Windwaker and I've been crap at all of them. Always wind up getting bored and playing something with a bit more action.

  3. Ha! And now I own 'Skyward Sword' and I'm crap at that too! However, its the most time I've spent on a Zelda game since 'Link to the Past'. It was cheap at Argos and I already had a Motion Plus, I couldn't resist!

    My comment from four years ago still stands though, I still wind up getting bored and moving on.