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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (Nintendo Game Boy Color) Review
Review by 
9.5/10 from 57 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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 Phenomenal  10.0 / 10
06/24/11, 20:13   Edited:  02/24/13, 22:22
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The original Zelda? I dunno, there was some random stuff but it wasn't a big enough world to really get lost and have no idea what to do next.

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 06:22
Out of curiosity, did you ever use the telephone booths? Ulrira generally points you in the right direction, if the owl doesn't.

I still maintain that LA had some of the best "guiding" (or lack thereof) in the series. From OoT onward, there's too much hand-holding, IMO.

Of course, that's coming from someone who'd love to see a text-less Zelda.

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 06:34
Yeah I used them all the time!!!

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 06:57

Explain that. Fully text-less? No NPCs or at least non-speaking ones? Details player!

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 07:17
DrFinkelstein said:

Explain that. Fully text-less? No NPCs or at least non-speaking ones? Details player!
I'm thinking something that relies completely on showing rather than telling. Think of silent movies, or comic strips that have no dialogue--it forces the creator(s) to think outside the box in presenting information to the audience. The way it'd be done in Zelda is that everything would need a visual cue (think of how you get Keys in the early games and the game doesn't need to tell you what they are, because you know key -> locked door).

Having no text would also...

-eliminate a lot of complaints about Nintendo being behind the times with storytelling (if done right, in fact, it could be a bold new statement on storytelling in video games, or at least a retro take that ends up paying off)
-eliminate complaints about no voice acting
-eliminate the ridiculous hand-holding
-eliminate the slower pacing with tutorials, reminders, etc, particularly on later playthroughs
-force the developers to convey information to the player in different, unique ways
-let the game stand out on its own more, rather than losing its identity (a possible concern for the series since after TWW)

I think it could be done. I mean, the original Zelda barely had text (and most of it was cryptic), while the original Metroid--a similarly non-linear game--had zero text except for the password screen, prologue, and epilogue. If those games can pull it off without even trying, why can't someone do something similar this day and age? With the knowledge of modern game design and how players think, it can even work in a less obtuse way than those old NES games (to minimize the chances of getting stuck). I dunno, I just think it'd be a cool experiment.

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 07:44

Sounds a lot like the Superbrothers' design theory.

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 07:52
@TriforceBun That sounds really cool. I would love to see something like that (though we probably never will).

Posted by 
 on: 07/08/11, 14:44
I had never heard of this game before.

Richard and his frogs have an origin story! My mind is blown.

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 17:00

Whoa! That's pretty cool that Richard is actually from the Japan-exclusive For the Frog the Bell Tolls.

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 18:07
I read that article last night. I didn't know about that game either. I wish the translation would get released on the eShop (but we all know that will NEVER happen)...

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 18:15
Never heard about For the Frog the Bell Tolls, eh? I've been wanting to try that out.

Another fun easter egg about Richard--in his villa, it plays the theme music to his game. If you wait a few minutes, though, you'll hear Totaka's Theme!

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 18:22
Wow, never knew that Frog game existed. It needs to come out here!

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 20:21

Now you're going to tell me you've never been to Chris Houlihan's Secret Room!

Posted by 
 on: 07/13/11, 23:02
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