Link’s Awakening was the first Zelda game that I bought and played, and completed.
Story: Link is sailing back to Hyrule, but gets caught in a storm and is shipwrecked. He finds himself conscious on Koholint Island, a mysterious land that has a polka dotted egg at the top of the island’s highest mountain. The most annoying Owl in the world keeps telling you, “to get home, you must wake the Wind Fish.” The story seems to take place after A Link to the Past and implies that Ganon is dead, but it can also take place after the Oracle Series (because at the end, we see Link sailing back to Hyrule). Most Zelda game plot lines are always more simplistic, especially the older installments, so it’s good for what it is.
Gameplay: It’s very similar to the classic gameplay of A Link to the Past, except for a few things. It introduces a two button system, where you can assign any weapon/item to either A or B, meaning the sword isn’t always equipped. The arrow/bomb combo is always a treat to use. Not only that, it introduces the Roc’s Feather, something that makes you JUMP! Very cool! Say goodbye to dead end bottomless pits! The most powerful weapon isn’t the sword, it’s the … BOOMERANG! Unlike all the other games, the boomerang doesn’t stun, it kills almost anything in one hit. Some will like it, others may not. On the downside, because there are only two buttons and not four, doing basic actions like lifting and running now work as separate items to be assigned instead of being on the same button. But don’t worry, the items you need to lift objects and run come pretty early in the game.
Graphics: The graphics are like the NES, but with a lot more detail, and they are a bit sharper. The frames of some weapons are used so quickly that it seems as if objects like arrows are coming out of Link’s body. But this is the Game Boy we’re talking about. They did the best they could with the graphics, and they are probably the best Game Boy graphics out there. Believe me, there are Game Boy games with much worse graphics. The DX version for Game Boy Color improves on the scenery and makes it look closer to it’s SNES counterpart.
Sound: Exactly the way the Game Boy sounds. Nothing special should be expected. There are a few over world tunes throughout the game, and each dungeon has it’s own separate tune, unlike previous Zelda titles where each dungeon had only one song (technically two in A Link to the Past). Some are catchy, such as the theme for the mountains, but others are not.
Extras: “I must be in 90’s Nintendo Land” says Link. Many characters and enemies from old Mario games and more make appearances in this game. One of them is a trade item, another one is an “escort mission,” while others are simply enemies again. Some places feature Side Scrolling rooms, and you can jump on a very familiar enemy much like Mario does. It is also possible to steal items from a shopkeeper, and you are even tempted to do so because he overprices his stock, and one well needed item costs well over 900 rupies! But if you steal anything, don’t go back in the store, otherwise you’ll be killed, and be labeled as THIEF for the rest of the game. It’s not something you want to do if you’re going for the perfect no death play.
In all, this game did very well when trying to match A Link to the Past on a Game Boy. Did it match it? no, but it still makes a great game, and a good one to travel with. If you’re trying to collect them all, don’t exclude it!