A beautiful, but flawed, island vacation

“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” for the Nintendo Switch is the second main entry in the “Legend of Zelda” series on the console.

“Link’s Awakening” is actually a remake of the original Game Boy title that was then re-released on the Game Boy color as “Link’s Awakening DX.” If you have played the older gameboy games in the series, this will feel pleasingly familiar.

The story is pretty simple. After a horrible storm and shipwreck, Link finds himself a strange yet colorful island filled with interesting characters. Link is tasked with collecting eight instruments to wake the windfish to go home.

Visually, the game is stunning. The new style is a huge step up from the original flat pixel design of the original. The style is reminiscent of plastic toys in a diorama. The colors really pop on the Switch’s screen in handheld mode.

However, this beauty is marred by weird frame rate drops occasionally. This typically occurs when loading in from a dungeon to the overworld. The game does a fantastic job of creating a seamless world with few loading screens, unlike the original. These issues are significantly reduced when playing on a TV in the Switch’s “Docked Mode.”

In the original games, there were some minor frustrations when it came to using various items such as your sword and shield. In this version of the game, many of these frustrations are addressed through various quality of life improvements. This includes having specific buttons for the sword, shield, or other items found later in the game.

Since the Game Boy Printer doesn’t exist anymore, the new addition to take its place in this version is Dampé’s hut. The hut lets you construct dungeons using pre-made rooms. The only way to share these creations is by loading them onto Amiibo and giving them to a friend.

I would love to see this feature expanded on into its own game like Mario Maker in the future.

The music brings a giant smile to my face. The soundtrack has been faithfully recreated and while maintaining the familiar sound to the original, My ears were treated to a wonderful new take on the classic tunes. “The Ballad of the Windfish” remains one of the best songs in the entire “Zelda” series.

The island of Koholint feels small at times, while at other times, feels too large. Before finding ways to travel faster, the overworld feels like a chore to navigate. There are a small amount of collectibles to find along the journey, but none of these made me feel like I stumbled upon something really neat.

The game is also relatively short when compared to a behemoth like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

When standing alone, I would suggest not buying the game at its full retail price of $60.

The game is, overall, a huge step up from the previous version, however a lack of meaningful exploration and various frame rate issues kept me from fully enjoying this otherwise great game.

This game has me excited about the possible re-release of the other Game Boy games, “Oracle of Ages” and “Oracle of Seasons.” If you are a die-hard “Legend of Zelda” fan, it is definitely worth the return to the island of Koholint, otherwise I would suggest waiting for the price to drop before picking it up.

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