Link's Awakening was the first game from The Legend of Zelda series to grace the Nintendo Gameboy. Now, for the first time, fans of following Link's adventures were now able to take around a handheld version, rather than being bound to their television screens. Link's Awakening follows the favourite green-capped hero Link stranded on Koholint Island.
Whilst most of the Zelda games are set in the fictional world of Hyrule, with the enemy Ganon making a regular appearance, Link's Awakening scraps both of these in favour of a different fictional world. Koholint Island is watched over by a magnificent whale-like creature named the Wind Fish. Link soon realises that if the Wind Fish is awoken, he is able to escape Koholint Island. The Wind Fish can only be awaken by the playing of a combination of eight instruments, and so the game revolves around Link's quest to gather all eight instruments for the grand finale.
Link's Awakening presented gamers with the choice to wander around the island, completing side-quests, such as helping out the various visitors dotted around the map, or to stick to the main storyline involving the quest for the instruments for the Wind Fish. The obligatory Zelda dungeons are present once again here, which at times can be rather challenging to navigate your way through, but the sense of achievement once escaping one is worth pursuing it.
The controls are rather simple, which in part is due to the Gameboy only having A and B button, and the d-pad functionality. The A and B buttons are used to attack, interact with characters and objects, and assign objects, whilst the d-pad is used to navigate Link left, right, backwards and forwards.
One of the main elements in Link's Awakening that brings back nostalgia, is the music. As many of you may recall, the Gameboy was only capable of 8-bit melodies, but there was something different about the music used in this particular game. Somehow throughout the game, the composers have created a melodic, and often emotion-packed score. Take the "Ballad of the Windfish" for example, the song that is created once Link has collected all of the eight instruments that were scattered around the island. For an example of this, watch this video.
As you may notice from the video, the game is in colour. Thankfully, Link's Awakening proved to be such a hit on the original Gameboy that it was turned into colour for the Gameboy Colour, and entitled "Link's Awakening DX". If you intend to play this and have not done so before, I would strongly suggest scrolling past this video.
(Above: A screenshot comparison of the Gameboy and Gameboy Colour versions.)
Another element of nostalgia comes in the form of Nintendo cameos. Many eagle eyed Nintendo fans will take pleasure in noticing a character that looks uncannily like Mario, to collecting a Yoshi toy in a crane machine, and even at one point, fighting a boss that looks suspiciously like Kirby, amongst many more. Therefore, not only is this a glorious outing from the Zelda series, but it is also a fitting homage to the excellent outputs from Nintendo during the game's original release date of 1993.
Although not strictly in the Zelda timeline, Link's Awakening still serves as a worthy addition to the series. Straying away from the usual characters and settings is not the only change on show here, as the game also has a different feel to it. The dream-like quality of Koholint Island and the nightmarish bosses will stick with you long after completion.
Link's Awakening is a welcome addition to the Virtual Console store, and is an essential purchase for your 3DS, especially if you are interested in exploring the games in The Legend of Zelda series. The team behind Link's Awakening have successfully managed to capture the essence of the previous effort, A Link to the Past, and expanded on it, thus creating a true Nintendo classic, which will continue to keep it's admiring fan base for, I hope, many years to come. Nintendo 3DS owners, I urge you to download this now.