The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has long been my favorite 2D Zelda game. For years, I’ve argued it’s better than the original Zelda, A Link to the Past, or any of the others, and it seemed nobody would listen to me. So, needless to say, it was pretty gratifying when Nintendo announced they were remaking Link’s Awakening earlier this year. Finally, vindication! But is the return of Link’s Awakening too good to be true? Is Nintendo doing right by the cult classic?
At E3 2019 I got to play a 20-minute demo of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which covered the iconic opening moments of the game (finding your sword, exploring the Mysterious Forest, making the Magic Powder to get past that darn raccoon) and I can report the game feels exactly as it should. Link is quick and responsive, and slashing enemies with your sword is properly satisfying. The layout of the world doesn’t seem to have changed at all, so I managed to find my way with no problem (which earned me compliments on my Zelda skills from the Nintendo rep demoing the game). This version of the game does offer a few small, yet welcome tweaks – enemies now have actual AI, chasing you and responding to your attacks, rather than just following a pre-set pattern. The game’s menus also look much more elegant, with a new detailed map that should make exploration much easier for folks who don’t have the entire game memorized.
But ultimately, the main thing that really sets this new Link’s Awakening apart, are it’s visuals. This is an absolutely gorgeous game, with a huge amount of love infused into each screen. Everything in this game, from Link, to the enemies, to the NPCs are just so gosh-darn adorable. Even the Witch is cute! While I was moving as fast as I could to get through the demo in the time allotted, I really wanted to just hang out in the world and drink it in. And really, that’s about all I have to say about the Link’s Awakening demo. I didn’t get to see a lot of new elements, like, for instance, the game’s new Chamber Dungeons, but I’m absolutely confident Nintendo is doing right by this classic.
After going hands-on with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, I got a chance to sit down with Nintendo of Canada’s Andrew Collins, who answered a handful of questions about what makes the game unique, Chamber Dungeons, the new Link’s Awakening Amiibo, and more!
Nintendo announced a Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel at E3. With that on the horizon, why should people also be hyped for Zelda: Link’s Awakening?
I think one of the key things about Link's Awakening, is that it's a reimagining of an absolute classic. So many years after the original, there's still people who have such a strong reaction to it. When I saw [Link's Awakening] was being reimagined, I was over the moon, because it would be a great way for me to share the Zelda experience with the kids. It works on two levels -- you have the people like myself, who can introduce it to the next generation of Nintendo gamers, and then you've got those younger gamers who will be experiencing this story for the first time.
I actually had the same thought! My son who was definitely on my mind while playing. Is the game intentionally aimed at younger players?
Not necessarily. Link's Awakening is a game that will work for everybody. It's a classic Zelda game, it's got the beautiful look of a Saturday-morning cartoon, but I've played it with people of pretty much all ages here at E3. Everybody enjoyed it. There wasn't a sense that it was a kids' game. It's a game that has this appeal, but behind it is substance, and this great, classic Zelda story.
What’s been added to this version of Link’s Awakening for those who are already really familiar with the game? Is there be some sort of second quest or remix mode?
One of the key things we've done, is we've taken a look at the original game, and tried to find ways to refine it. We looked at the menu system, because if you remember from the original, you do spend quite a bit of time in the menus. We've been able to reinvent the menu process, so you don't spend nearly as much time in the menus. Another example is the map screen -- now you can manage a lot more things, and put reminders in there. For example, if there's a stone blocking a dungeon you can't lift up yet, you can put a marker down there and come back when you've got some extra strength. The enemies are also more intelligent. In previous games, you could run past them and they wouldn't react, but now they know that you're there. So there are a lot of things that change how you play a little bit.
But no new mode? Something unlockable perhaps?
Well, not that we're talking about at the moment.
The remixable Chamber Dungeons are a cool feature. Will you able to share your creations online?
We haven't shared anything about that. We'll go into more detail about chamber dungeons as we get closer to launch in December.
The new Link’s Awakening Amiibo is dangerously cute. What does it do in the game?
Any of the Legend of Zelda character Amiibo, you can scan to add additional chambers into the Chamber Dungeon. You can up to about, I think it's five, different chambers. The Link’s Awakening Amiibo will add certain modifiers to your dungeon.
Could we see more 2D Zelda remakes on Switch after Link’s Awakening?
E3 is all about games playable later this year, so we don't have any more information about that. We have plenty of Zelda titles keeping us busy!
Thanks for taking with me, Andrew!
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening ventures forth onto Nintendo Switch on September 20.