The Link's Awakening Remake is Incredibly Faithful to the Original, Except for Maybe One Thing

Even the dialogue remains the same.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening can be considered the first weird Zelda [Editor's Note: I guess Eric isn't counting Zelda 2]. Rather than a hero's journey to stop Ganon, Link washes ashore on the island of Koholint, soon realizing he's trapped. It's a memorable journey that I was elated to revisit in a hands-on demo of Link's Awakening at E3 2019 today, and at its best it felt like reliving the past.

In pure story and gameplay, Link's Awakening is largely the same. I played the same opening path I'd trodden dozens of times; waking up, getting a shield, running to the beach, getting your sword. I knew which rocks to push in the cave inside the Mysterious Forest, and where to find the witch who can turn the Magic Mushroom into Magic Powder, so I could toss it in the face of that annoying dancing raccoon.

The difference is the look, where it trades Game Boy pixels for a toy-like aesthetic. The Link's Awakening remake is infectiously charming, almost adding a second layer of nostalgic veneer to the game I've often called my favorite Zelda. The owl hoots and flutters in just like he always does, but there's an added charm to even the most mundane actions like those.

More noticeably, there aren't "screens" anymore, but one constantly panning camera. If you're used to thinking of Link's Awakening in terms of linked screens, this can be jarring as you seamlessly pan across borders that exist only in your mind. Each transition is seamless, with the only hard cuts being areas like dungeons or falling into the well.

While it was an early version, with the game coming in September, the sometimes-choppy framerate was a little bothersome. And Link moves awkwardly, only in either the four cardinal directions or diagonally, rather than a 360-degree range of motion. These didn't really actively bother me, other than feeling uncomfortable in the moment against my muscle memory. They're also issues that are easy for Nintendo to address in the run-up to September.

My experience with Link's Awakening was largely a retread of my own nostalgia. I had seen and done these actions so many times before that they felt routine. But even in that repetition, the look and charm of the remake's aesthetic gave it new life.

I was constantly wondering what everything would look like in this new style. Link's Awakening is extremely accurate, down to the dialogue itself. The witch still does her sped-up brewing animation, hastily stirring her cauldron to make Magic Powder. The raccoon bounces and ricochets around after being dusted (and you can still affect his trajectory by standing in certain spots). My only bummer was that I was unable to rob the shopkeeper—we've asked Nintendo if it's still possible, but I ran laps around him trying to get the shovel early, to no avail [Update: You can totally rob the shop after all].

Link's Awakening is incredibly faithful to the original, even down to the dialogue. | Nintendo

I had to think over my time with Link's Awakening, because it was really more of the same, what I already knew and loved. But my Link's Awakening cart is in a box somewhere, and I'm one of the lucky ones who still has one. For so many people, this is a Zelda that's lost to time for them.

Everything that made the original is here, but all of it is still brilliant. The foreboding dialogue from your mysterious owl friend, the quirky cast of Koholint Island, and the excellent puzzle and dungeon design. I barely spent time in the Tail Dungeon due to my time limit, but the rooms I saw were just as I remembered.

It's odd, seeing something you know so well get a new look. But the new look only builds upon what's there, even accentuating the dreamlike nature of it. I was hesitant, but now I'm eager to return to Koholint and wake the Wind Fish all over again. It's like playing the game as you've held it in your mind, rather than what it actually still is, and an achingly loving homage to a game that shouldn't be forgotten once the cart batteries go bad. It will be out September 20 on Nintendo Switch.

Tagged with Action Adventure, E3 2019, Nintendo, Nintendo E3 2019, Opinions, Retro, Switch.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

The E3 2019 Awards: The Best Games We Saw at This Year's Show

Here are all the best games we saw at E3 2019, including our Game of the Show!

All the Zelda Link's Awakening Switch Details You Need to Know

This is our guide compiling info on the Zelda Link's Awakening Switch remake, including gameplay, release date, amiibo, and more.

Nintendo Fans Find Link's Awakening Remake Details in the E3 2019 Lanyard

Castaway, you should know the truth: Link's new character model is so very cute.

I Hope Weird Nintendo Shows Up To E3 2019

In a conference filled with sequels and remakes, I'm looking for a curveball only Nintendo can throw.

Pokemon, Link's Awakening, Luigi's Mansion 3, and More Will Be Playable at E3 2019

If you're going to E3, you can romp with Pokemon, visit a spooky mansion, and dream with a big fish.

More Opinions

Gooigi Adds a Gooey New Dimension to Luigi's Mansion 3's Puzzles

We get to know Luigi's Mansion 3's creepiest new character.

Animal Crossing: New Horizon's Customization Options Prove Representation Can Be Simple

Sometimes it just comes down to letting people play as themselves.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is the Better Marvel Game at E3 2019

The Switch delivers the Marvel experience I'm looking for.

All the Big Fan Theories That Have Already Emerged From the Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 Reveal

It looks like Ganondorf is making his Breath of the Wild debut, and that can only spell trouble.

More on Switch

Gooigi Adds a Gooey New Dimension to Luigi's Mansion 3's Puzzles

We get to know Luigi's Mansion 3's creepiest new character.

"If We Are Going to Do [E3] as an Industry, Then We Need to Be Into It"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | The theme of this year's E3 2019? Subscriptions and streaming, with every major company either participating or at least weighing in on the coming wave of services.

The E3 2019 Awards: The Best Games We Saw at This Year's Show

Here are all the best games we saw at E3 2019, including our Game of the Show!

Animal Crossing: New Horizon's Customization Options Prove Representation Can Be Simple

Sometimes it just comes down to letting people play as themselves.

Mr. Resetti Will Be on the Job Hunt in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossings' angriest mole won't be tunneling through your front yard anymore.

Cadence of Hyrule Diamonds - How to Earn Diamonds Quickly in Cadence of Hyrule

Here's how you can earn Diamonds in Cadence of Hyrule as quickly as possible.

Splatoon 2's Final Splatfest Detailed, Private Splatfest Mode Coming in July

The festivals are coming to an end with one last climactic battle.

More Action Adventure Games

The E3 2019 Awards: The Best Games We Saw at This Year's Show

Here are all the best games we saw at E3 2019, including our Game of the Show!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is the Better Marvel Game at E3 2019

The Switch delivers the Marvel experience I'm looking for.

All the Big Fan Theories That Have Already Emerged From the Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 Reveal

It looks like Ganondorf is making his Breath of the Wild debut, and that can only spell trouble.