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.
I honestly did not know this game was released after Link to the Past. I always just assumed it was sort of like Metroid -> Metroid II -> Super Metroid. I guess this goes a long way towards explaining why it feels, in some ways, even more advanced than Link to the Past (although I'd still say that, so far, I see LTTP as the superior game.)
As for the fetch quest, it is a bit unclear early on that you're even supposed to be doing it, and once you realize you are, it's unclear where you're supposed to be. You can get stuck without understanding why you are stuck. I admit, I was using Gamefaqs a bit early on.
My third favorite Zelda title after OoT and ALttP and actually the first Zelda title I ever owned and thus got into.
Funny thing about the plot of the game though is that I remember reading an article on the franchise's timeline saying that LA took place between the time you go from the west continent to the east in AoL. Where I read that I can't remember but for some reason that always stuck with me.
@chrisbg99 That actually used to be on Zelda.com, Nintendo's official Zelda site. Ridiculous, IMO. If you've read the manual to the game, it's clearly supposed to be set after A Link to the Past. But then, this is why I never expect any sort of official Zelda timeline - because Nintendo has no fucking idea what they're talking about.
Link's Awakening DX is my favorite handheld Zelda game of all time. LA always looked to me like an ALTTP Lite, but considering that the GB was light years beyond SNES in terms of power and technology, LA is quite an accomplishment. I've played LA DX many times to death, but it's a game that deserves to be played even beyond death. 9.9'd.
I have to say, wow... definitely one of the toughest Zelda games that I have played in a long time. There are enemies that take off multiple hearts. Multiple hearts!!! None of this take off 1/4 of a heart nonsense. Of course, I may be making it even harder on myself because I'm like coming up on the seventh dungeon and I have no idea where to get potions or anything like that. Oh, and some of the dungeon designs are pretty tough too, I get stuck a lot. Albeit sometimes I feel like I get stuck because of unclear design.
@Shadowlink Nah have not played them, definitely will check them out.
You can buy a potion that automatically refills all your hearts when you die, just north of the witch's hut. You can also get tunics that give you permanent defense up or attack up in the color dungeon.
Blacked out in case you don't want these things, or want to find them on your own.
It's the dungeon that the team added for the DX version of Link's Awakening. Read below to find out how to access it.
Go to the library in the Mabe Village. See the book on top of the bookshelf? Charge into the bookshelf while wearing the Pegasus Boots to knock it down. It will tell you how to enter the secret Color Dungeon. It may help to use the Game Notes to write down the sequence.
When you finish the dungeon, you'll get the choice of a permanent offensive boost (Red Tunic) or defensive boost (Blue Tunic). Choose wisely, because you only get one crack at it.