I am a Nintendo fan. I always have been and no doubt I always will be. The roots of my passion for Nintendo go back to my childhood – all of my friends had Sega consoles, from Master Systems to Mega Drives and I just wanted to be different. My first handheld was the now iconic GameBoy and when I progressed to a console, naturally my choice was the Super Nintendo. I’ve never looked back.
When tasked with writing something about one of my favourite games of all time I’m not ashamed to admit the idea scared me. It scared me because it would mean choosing one game, ONE game! I have so many favourites from my early days as a gamer in the mid-80’s to the present day. It was a daunting task.
My choice, in the end, goes back a bit, back to the GameBoy. It’s a choice that in the end was a complete no-brainer. It still is to this day a game that I play from time and time again, never getting bored and never once putting it down from start to finish.
The game in question was my first foray into a game series that spans many a generation. It was also one of the first games I actually bought with my own money. It cost me £24.99, most of my birthday money, from Toys R Us in Plymouth circa 1994. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was also I think the biggest game at the time on a GameBoy cartridge, pushing an almighty 4 Megabits and came in a gold box.
Can you tell what it is yet?
It is of course The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. A game that in my opinion is THE best Zelda game of all-time (the second best being Wind Waker). I know, Ocarina of Time tend salways to get that accolade but like I said at the beginning, I like to be different.
Link’s Awakening is a Legend of Zelda game from a bygone era, before the gimmicks kicked in. No motion controls here, no drawing on the screen with a stylus, just pure unadulterated and fiendish gameplay. The top-down Zelda games will always hold a place in my heart and this one kick-started that love.
The monochromatic visuals were sublime for its time – updated for the GB Color in the form of the DX version, with added puzzles – and was home to one of the most moving and emotional soundtracks of any game. From the opening cut-scene to the first part of actual gameplay there was already a sense of endearment to the few characters introduced early on, a sense of intrigue into what may surpass and genuine care for the character in your charge. Few games make you actually care about the character you’re controlling, the story that is being woven and the events that await those characters that you approach and interact with.
Without wishing to spoil the story for anyone unlucky enough to have not yet played this game (“I wasn’t born then” is not a valid excuse) this is one adventure game that everyone should play. You find yourself shipwrecked on the mysterious Koholint Island. Washed up on a beach and rescued by the lovely Marin – whom Link deliriously mistakes for Zelda – you are guided by a talking owl on a quest to awaken the Wind Fish that slumbers inside the giant egg atop a mountain. You are never short of things to do and areas to explore.
Link’s Awakening is a game of many levels, not just those of the ever present dungeons and outlying areas but also in the fact that if you look closely enough you will see cameos by famous Nintendo characters (Yoshi, Kirby and even the Goomba’s of Super Mario Bros), along with a rather cute version of a Chain Chomp.
There are many quests to undertake, side missions and distractions of a lesser nature that ultimately lead you to your goal earning you valuable items along the way, making them more than just additions and filler to an already hefty content.
I cannot say this enough, this is a game that every adventure fan should play at least once.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX is available to buy from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.