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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (Nintendo Game Boy Color) Review
Review by 
9.51/10 from 56 user ratings
In 1993, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Game Boy, the fourth installment of the Zelda series to huge commercial and critical success. When the Game Boy Color launched in late 1998, Nintendo decided to add a splash of color to Link's portable adventure, as well as a couple of odds and ends. The result: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX.

Link's Awakening, now in 100% more color!

The story takes place after A Link to the Past. Link is sailing abroad to beef up in case of future attacks on Hyrule. While he's at sea, a massive storm hits, ripping his boat apart. He washes ashore on Koholint Island, found unconscious by a young woman named Marin (who looks strikingly like Princess Zelda) on the beach of Koholint Island. After waking in her and her father Tarin's house, they give him his shield back and send them to go check out the beach where he washed up.

Upon arriving at the beach, Link finds his sword. Once he grabs hold of it, an owl swoops in and tells Link that in order to go home, Link has to collect the eight instruments of the Sirens and awaken the Wind Fish, Koholint's guardian. Each instrument is in a Temple on Koholint. Thus, Link's newest adventure begins.

If you've played any Zelda games before (or after) it, you're familiar with DX's gameplay mechanics. If you haven't, it plays from an overhead perspective (aside from the occasional two-screen side-scroller sections) with Link being able to move in all directions. The game continually shifts from the main overworld to nine (technically ten) dungeons. In order to get around Koholint Island, you'll need to traverse the dungeons and recover special items, such as the Roc's Feather (allows Link to jump), the Pegasus Boots (Link can charge forward and shatter some objects) and the Power Bracelet (allows Link to lift rocks and push and pull various objects).

Hmm, this guy looks a bit familiar...

Travel the overworld, find a dungeon, find the dungeon item, kill the boss, and get a new instrument. That's pretty much DX in a nutshell, though there is a lot of story progression between dungeons. The dungeons aren't overly tough and they aren't too long (which is good for a portable game). Each dungeon has you finding keys, a Nightmare key to let you into the boss' chamber, a compass to point out where the treasures are, a map to show you the general layout (excluding some hidden passages) and the dungeon item, which is often necessary to finish the dungeon and defeat the boss and snag a heart container to extend your life.

Also during your travels in the overworld, you'll have the chance to find heart pieces. For every four heart pieces you collect, you earn a new heart container. There are a total of twelve scattered throughout Koholint Island. Some are easier to find than others. You can also have a photographer take pictures of Link during his adventures if certain requirements are fulfilled, though if you're playing on a 3DS, you can't print the pictures. A bummer, but nothing that detracts from the gameplay.

DX features an extra dungeon not seen in the original Link's Awakening. It can be accessed after obtaining the Power Bracelet, though you technically need the Pegasus Boots to learn where it's located and how to access it. It's also worth noting that DX features a lot of cameos.

The controls are pretty simple. Move Link around with the d pad, press Select to open the map, and press Start to open the sub screen. From there, you can equip weapons and items to either the A or B buttons. Nintendo worked around the Game Boy's button limitations by allowing Link to unequip the sword. This comes in handy for those times where your level 1 sword just won't get the job done (bombs + arrows make for a deadly combination) or where you need a little extra oomph to get to those hard to reach places (Roc's Feather + Pegasus Boots).

Negotiate a peace treaty wi... just kidding. You have to stab him.

The one problem is saving. The way to save is to press Select, Start, A and B at the same time. On the Game Boy Color, this wasn't so bad. On the 3DS, however, it's a pain. Fortunately, the save state function alleviates the need to have to do this too often (I still did it on occasion just in case).

Graphically, this was a game created in 1993. The sprites went unchanged, though the game got a nice color treatment. The color looks good and the game rarely slows down, if ever. One of my complaints of the original was that some of the environments were difficult to see, and the color fixed that. Sound wise, DX makes good use of the Game Boy Color's limited sound capabilities in its music and sound effects.

All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX is a good, portable title. It's not as meaty as the console Zelda games (I completed it in about eleven and a half hours with everything found aside from a few photos), but it doesn't need to be. This was designed to be a Zelda game that you could play on the go, and it succeeded in capturing what made the console versions so great in a more bite-sized game. Highly recommended.

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Posted: 06/24/11, 20:13:02  - Edited by 
 on: 02/24/13, 22:22:29    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
Yeah, you can totally mess things up if you use it in the wrong place. I used it in a cave, and ended up in a cave version of the Eagle's Tower dungeon, which was fucking weird.

Which I'm sure is why they fixed it in the color version, and only released that on VC.

In some ways I actually prefer the black and white though. Some things just don't look right in color, imo.

Posted by 
 on: 06/30/11, 16:11:08
I love this game, but man does it make me rely on Gamefaqs more than usual. I'm at the part where I'm supposed to pay the frog money for a song. Ok... but I get there and he won't do anything. So then I read through Gamefaqs a bit more and apparently this is the third song for the ocarina. I DON'T HAVE AN F-ING OCARINA. NOTHING IN THE GAME POINTED ME TOWARDS NEEDING AN OCARINA AT THIS POINT. The telephone thing just pointed me to the frog. Actually I went to the frog on my own and since he wouldn't do anything I figured I wasn't supposed to be there yet so I spent like an hour running around the mountains trying to figure out what was next GAHHHHHHHHHHH and then I hopped on Gamefaqs and the FAQs all kept saying pay the frog for a song but he won't let me YADA YADA YADA.

Posted by 
 on: 07/04/11, 20:06:08
Did you finally get the ocarina? I'm not sure how far you are, but if you can get there you can get the ocarina. I think you can get the ocarina after like, the third dungeon.

Also, a lot of places you NEED to go at some point are marked on your map with a "!?". Places that are part of the trading sequence, or that have valuable items... And I think the place where you get the ocarina might be one of those.

Posted by 
 on: 07/04/11, 20:15:26  - Edited by 
 on: 07/04/11, 20:19:02
I need two more shells and I'm in the last dungeon...does anyone know off the top of their head if they are in this dungeon? I am gonna guess no...

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 04:58:41

They are not in the dungeon. Are there ever shells in dungeons?

There are 27 shells in the game, and you need 20 to get a better sword. You find them in tons of places. You might have missed some that you had to dig out (noticed any suspicious grass/shrubs patterns?), knock out of trees, or dive to find.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 05:19:05

Two more to reach the 20? Or two more in total?

There's actually 25 shells. And some of them are missable. Actually there's a few missable things in this game. I hate it when stuff like that happens, it smacks of bad game design to me. One should always be able to go back to previous areas.

EDIT: Guillaume beat me to it bah. And apparently the number of shells is wrong, I thought it was 25. Well there you go.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 05:20:07  - Edited by 
 on: 07/05/11, 05:21:51

Which ones are missable? I don't think I knew that...

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 05:31:44
Actually, I don't think you can even get all of them. Once you get the L-2 sword (reward for getting 20 shells) all the chests with shells in them turn into 20 rupees and the shell counter disappears from the sub-screen. So if you got the reward, don't worry about getting "all" of the shells -- because you can't. I guess you could get all of them before you get the reward, but there will be no record of it once you get the reward.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 05:55:07

Turns out we were both wrong, there's actually 26 shells . Rebonack is also correct it seems in that once you've gained 20, thats all you can obtain anyway.

From Zelda Wiki (spoilered for the new players):

Secret Seashells
3 Secret Seashells are missable, out of 26. Once Link has exactly 5 Seashells (no more, no less), he must go to Seashell Mansion to gain a 6th. Likewise, once he has exactly 10 Seashells (no more, no less), he must return there to gain an 11th. The third missable Seashell is the one near Kanalet Castle's entrance that must be accessed with the Flying Rooster (see above). None of this is actually a concerning issue, however, since Link only needs 20 of the 26 Secret Seashells to forge the L-2 Sword. After Link has powered his sword up, all remaining Secret Seashells in the game turn into Rupees, and the slot for Secret Seashells on the pause menu's inventory disappears.

There's also a few photo ops that are missable, and a handful of chests (due to the requirement of the flying rooster).

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 06:09:40

You can gain more than 20, it just won't do you any good. I used to do that sometimes, try to get as many as possible before getting the sword. Pointless, but when you've beaten the game dozens of times...

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 06:29:48

Ha ha, yeah. Link's Awakening: the last Zelda game that doesn't hold the player's hand throughout the adventure. It's kind of funny, because a lot of forum posters seem to lament the lack of freedom modern Zelda games feature, but... you know what? I think a lot of gamers nowadays would be lost without it. They may not *like* the hand-holding, but it's kind of necessary.

I don't think YOU fall into that category of course, but maybe you should have done a *bit* more exploring. I found that ocarina without any online FAQ or strategy guide when I played it on my own back when I was a kid. Explore! Discover! 'Tis the very essence of this franchise! (or at least it used to be....!)

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 06:44:21

I agree, it wasn't *that* hard.

The original, now that was a bitch. Must beat that one day.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 07:14:46
To answer your shell in dungeon question, yes there is a shell in a treasure chest in the 7th dungeon.

EDIT: Thanks for the info, i won't waste my time searching for them. I saw the one by the castle and forgot to take my cucco there earlier, oh well. Tricksies. There's always next time...

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 08:25:08  - Edited by 
 on: 07/05/11, 08:26:57
rebonack said:
Also, a lot of places you NEED to go at some point are marked on your map with a "!?".

I... did not know that.

@GameDadGrant I think there is a middle ground somewhere in between being totally open ended and hand holding. Stuff like putting a "!?" on the map for places you need to visit. But then you know, actually informing the player that this system is in place. Ok yeah it should have been obvious I guess, but somehow I missed it.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 16:48:43
Yeah I think I only know it from the manual when I was younger, since I now know all the places I need to go, I rarely look at the symbols on the map. The squares can be marked as dungeons, shops, !?, and... Maybe something else? It's not a huge help, but it can make you think "huh, I'll need to come back to Sale's House O' Bananas at some point." So if you get stuck, you can see places you haven't yet done something integral to your progression.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 18:39:31
Yeah, Link's Awakening is one of those weird "transitional" games that seems to have been made at a time where portable games weren't given the same level of consideration as console games. This came out after A Link to the Past, but the world design is stuck somewhere between the "you're on your own" style of LoZ and the much more directed style of LttP. There are a bunch of critical path activities that you're only directed to in esoteric ways.

Not a bad thing, but I imagine that it would be weird to play it for the first time today.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 19:09:32
I think I'm doing ok now. The 7th dungeon was pretty awesome. Or I should say is, haven't quite finished it yet. Knocked down all of the pillars, yet I'm not totally sure what I'm supposed to do on the top floor. I'll figure it out.

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 19:11:14
Kal-El814 said:
Yeah, Link's Awakening is one of those weird "transitional" games that seems to have been made at a time where portable games weren't given the same level of consideration as console games. This came out after A Link to the Past, but the world design is stuck somewhere between the "you're on your own" style of LoZ and the much more directed style of LttP. There are a bunch of critical path activities that you're only directed to in esoteric ways.

Not a bad thing, but I imagine that it would be weird to play it for the first time today.
If you ask me, it's a near-perfect balance! I'd love to see another Zelda game with this style of exploration, although the Oracle titles worked similarly.

I'm kind of tired of Link getting an "assistant" in every modern Zelda. Who needs a stinkin' assistant anyway? Heck, I wouldn't be opposed to an entirely text-less Zelda adventure!

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 19:52:30

Oh yeah, I wasn't complaining!

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 19:55:25

Yeah, Link's "partners" are kind of annoying. Navi at least made sense, as she acted as a "cursor" so you knew what Link's attention was focused on. (an enemy, an NPC, a sign, whatever) It helped players understand and wrap their head around the whole Z-targeting thing.

Of course, her "bigger" role (and the role every partner has played since that game) is that she's the narrator for Link. The series has become more and more... I dunno, "story" driven in modern times. And since Nintendo has (thankfully!) kept Link as a silent protagonist, the partner has been the one that's acted as Link's "voice." I suppose it's kind of a necessary evil? Or maybe Nintendo can find another work-around for this. Y'know, still tell an engrossing story, but without the need for Link to buddy up with anyone.

One thing I'll point out "in defense" of Link having a partner that Navi and Tatl provided (yet no other partner has replicated since) was a sort of bestiary for all the foes you encounter. Getting a little insight and description of the various flora and fauna in the Kingdom of Hyrule (and Termina) was pretty cool. (I also really liked the scanning in the Metroid Prime games!)

Posted by 
 on: 07/05/11, 21:20:05
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