A charming little waking dream — Hands-on with Link’s Awakening at E3

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening reigned as my favorite Zelda game for 24 for years. It took something as game-changing as Breath of the Wild to unseat the Windfish’s dream from its place at the top of my heart. With all that said, it’s no surprise that I’ve been eagerly waiting for the chance to try out the remake of Link’s Awakening. While my time with the game was short, I was blown away by the charm and whimsy of the new Koholint Island, and how my time wandering through Mable Village really did evoke the feeling of visiting old friends in a familiar place.

The first thing I noticed was a new control scheme, which takes advantage of the Switch’s many buttons. The shield now equips to the R button, and you swing your sword using the B button. (Purist fans will be happy to note that Link is still left-handed!) You can equip items to both the X and Y buttons; the item tray is automatically hidden if you do not have anything equipped to these buttons, making the interface incredibly clean.

Everything about the remake is just as charming as the original game, if not more so. The map has been faithfully and lovingly recreated, though unlike in the original, the camera now remains locked on Link whenever he wanders, rather than requiring you to enter and exit each screen. It doesn’t seem to have any real gameplay, but it’s a nice upgrade. Familiar characters, places and monsters await, and they are all brimming with new life thanks to the graphical upgrade. It was the little details which caught my eye and caused squeaks of joy: the way that sea urchins look around as they bobbed in place, the purple detailing on the owl’s wings, the way the ocean catches the light, and how Link’s face turns red whenever he tries to move an object which is too heavy for him.

The sound design is top-notch; the music is a beautiful rendition of the original 8-bit sound, but softened and given much more depth, thanks to the addition of a number of instruments that Link himself will have to use if he hopes to wake the Windfish. The Pokemon-esque way BowWow says its name when chomping things brought a smile to my face, and even the sound that Link makes whenever he walks through the tall grass was satisfying.

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief time with the remake of Link’s Awakening, and you can start your own exploration of Koholint Island on September 20th, when The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening gets released on the Nintendo Switch. Check our playthrough of the first ten minutes in the video above; follow Gaming Trend for more videos and hands-on coverage from E3!

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