Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC)

Legend of Zelda Link's Awaking DX title screen game boy color
I've finally reached game four in the Zelda series (and the first on handhelds): Link's Awakening. Actually I'm playing the colourised DX version that came out five years later on the Game Boy Color. I've heard it's basically the same game though, except it has a little extra content and it's a whole lot prettier in screenshots.

All the other Zelda title screens so far have featured a sword placed before an epic view of mountains, waterfalls, lakes etc. but they decided to mix things up this time by replacing them with a giant... Yoshi egg?

The story begins with a tiny boat caught in a thunderstorm.

Link's Awakening Link holds onto mast in a storm
And onboard is our hero, Link!

It's probably a new one, but hey it's possible it could one of the earlier Links making a return appearance. It's definitely not the guy from Link to the Past though, not unless he's dyed his pink hair blonde, and considering he refused to disguise himself even slightly during his time as a wanted fugitive, I somehow doubt it. He wouldn't even take his bloody hat off.

Link survives the storm, but awakens in a strange house, surrounded by strange... hang on, that's MARIO. Did we wash up on Yoshi's Island or something?

The pair of Good Samaritans (who definitely aren't Mario and Zelda) reveal that there's no big crisis going on, no Triforce to gather, and definitely no princess to rescue. In fact they've never even heard of Zelda, which is a bit weird considering this was supposed to be her legend, but whatever. Instead they just hand me my shield, and tell me that the wreckage of my boat is to the south.

A Chain Chomp, seriously? I'm starting to think that we really did wash up in a Mario game. Fortunately it seems that this one's been domesticated, as I've got no way to fight back without my sword.

But I'm sure if I keep heading south I'll find my weapon washed up on the beach. I doubt anyone will have seen the expensive looking shiny object and taken it for themselves in the hours I've been asleep. Crap, I'm going to have to work to get this sword back aren't I?

ACTUAL SIZE SCREENSHOT COMPARISON!
Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (SNES)Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GBC)
The gameplay's still 100% Zelda so far, just scaled down a bit. It's a return to the flick-screen style of Zelda 1, rather than the scrolling of Link to the Past, but otherwise it feels more like sequel than a throwback.
LTTP's weird dancing flowers even make an appearance, with their bizarre rectangular petals. So creepy.

Don't touch the spiky enemies with bare hands? Makes sense to me, though they are kinda in my way right now. I got a similar message earlier when I tried picking up a vase, so I guess I'm looking for some gloves of strength.

Come on, it's a plant Link! You used to be able to tear these out of the ground and throw them at people. You could at least try ripping the leaves off to make a gap, or something. Man, this guy is so useless without a sword.

Oh shit, I just noticed how weird those trees look. Now I'm worried they'll come alive and try to eat me.

It's funny how all these classic Zelda monsters are scattered around where Link washed up ashore. Was he shipping them somewhere? He's probably ruined this island's ecosystem now, these things are gonna breed and infest everywhere.

Oh, plus they just killed Link.

Link's Awakening game over screen save & continue
What do you reckon, new world record for getting a game over in Link's Awakening? Well I'm sure you could do better if you were really trying, but for me this comes effortlessly.

Anyway, the problem I've got here is there's no way to get to the sword while those plants and spiky enemies are in the way. One of them has to go. Fortunately the game restarted me back at the last house I entered, so I was able to continue from close to where I left off.


LATER.


A spade! That ought to sort out those plants blocking the path surely. I can just dig the things right out of the ground. Though right now I'm 200 rupees short with no idea how to get hold of some. Well okay I know that Zelda games often give you cash for clearing away plants, but... yeah.

Look at this, I can't even get into this second shop because of the plants outside. Those poor people inside probably starved to death years ago.

I like how the villagers keep trying to give advice on the game's controls, before admitting they have no idea what things like 'press the A button' or 'save the game' means (usually because they're "just a kid!"). It's a weird concept, the idea that neither the NPCs or Link have any idea what's these conversations are about, but they're compelled by the game developer gods to deliver messages to the being remote-controlling him as their avatar.

Link's Awakening incomplete map
Well I'm out of places to go. I can't believe I'm stuck on the very first quest in the game. All because of a bloody plant.

I'm not sure what I think about this map. On the one hand 'YAY MAP!' etc, always glad to have one available, and do I like how it's split into separate screens that are filled in as I travel around. On the other hand, it's just not as detailed as the Link to the Past map. Ten squares each containing a single picture of a rock doesn't help me much.


EVENTUALLY.


Oh cheer up Link, I know the water must be freezing, but you've got your sword back now, the crisis is over. Wait, did you seriously etch your own name into the priceless Master Sword? The legendary Sword of Time? The sacred Blade of Evil's Bane?

Yes I managed to get to the sword in the end. It took me forever, but I finally figured out that all I had to do was push the spiky balls out of the way with my shield. In my defence there was no shield button in the other games!

Then a talking owl came down to tell me that I need to go north and find a way to awaken the sleeping Wind Fish before I can leave the island. I've been given a goal and directions! How awesome is that?


A FEW MINUTES LATER.


First dungeon, at last! They've gone back to flick-screen, Zelda 1 style, so the perspective makes a lot more sense than in Link to the Past's scrolling dungeons. Though it's still weird how the sprites are basically side-view.

These things keep cycling through the four playing card suits, and I presumably have to get all three to stop on the same suit by stunning them with a sword slash at the right time, but it's not easy. Though you can see how they're trying to keep things fresh for this sequel, throwing in some new ideas for enemies and puzzles.

Okay, THIS is basically side-view. Also, these are Goombas. I can't believe I'm playing a Zelda game where I'm jumping on Goombas. Well, falling on them at least.

I guess I'm definitely not playing as the Link from Zelda 2, as that guy would have been jumping all over the place here. Unless being knocked out gave him selective amnesia and he forgot how.

Knocked into oblivion, just before I could reach the box! Despair! I bet whatever was in that box would have CHANGED EVERYTHING, but now I've been kicked right back to the start of the dungeon again. Still, at least it hasn't been reset, all the doors I unlocked are still open.


EVENTUALLY.


Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening DX Tail Cave dungeon map
Well I made it back to the box and inside was a feather, which makes Link light enough to jump! But only when he's holding it in one of his hands (doesn't matter which, he's ambidextrous in this).

I also found a compass that tells me which rooms have still have a secret treasure hidden inside, though not how to get it. Suits me, I just want to know if I've missed anything.

Crap, surprise mid-boss! I guess I was supposed to jump over it this metal roller, but I had the shield equipped so all I could do was get run over. I switched over afterwards, but it was a little too late to be helpful. Fortunately I was able to slice through the enemy in seconds when he came over to finish me off, and got a full health refill from it.

Oh, plus a portal leading back to the entrance, meaning I won't have to walk all the way back here over and over again after the dungeon boss repeatedly kicks my ass! Which he will.

You know, I probably could have actually beaten this dungeon boss first time if I hadn't tried to use magic powder on him instead of just hitting him with a sharp thing. He's not actually much of a challenge.

Hey, I was told by a witch on the way here to try using this powder on everything I find, so I am. So far it's only had two uses though: lighting fires and turning mischievous raccoons into Mario the guy from the house at the start. Who is obviously Mario.

Undaunted by his shameful game over, the young warrior Link chose to save & continue, journeyed once more through the portal, and slayed the wicked beast without effort. Then he took the creature's heart, and consumed it to steal its power.

Most people are happy with one heart, Time Lords get by with two, Link started off with three, and he's still greedy for more. Nothing gets the blood pumping like a chest full of hearts.

Link's Awakening DX get cello
With his enemies defeated and the dungeon cleared, Link finally gets to live out his dream of rocking out on stage. But sadly he's performing to an empty room, as in his greed for treasure he managed to kill off every creature who could have been in his audience.

But hey, at least we've got one of the eight instruments required for awakening the Wind Fish. Plus a pocket full of cash to spend. Not quite enough for a spade though.


SOON, BACK IN TOWN.


Zelda Link's Awakening you got a Yoshi Doll!
I just won a Yoshi Doll from a crane machine. In a Zelda game. Seriously.

You know, I was just joking about that egg on the title screen looking like a giant Yoshi egg earlier, but now I'm not so sure. It would have been cool if they'd actually committed to this fully and had a proper Mario and Zelda team up game.

Link's Awakening Link photograph
Whoa, those are some impressive ears. He could go gliding with those things. Maybe that's why we're trying to awaken this Wind Fish, to get a good breeze going so we can ride it home.

Sadly I can't print out my photo without a Game Boy printer, so I guess I'll go off and get on with some adventuring. My new jumping ability has opened up paths previously blocked by holes, and the owl's given me a new destination: the Goponga Swamp in the north.

The gravestones won't move for cowards? What? Link's defining trait is his fearlessness. The guy routinely heads off into every dark cave he comes across to slay monsters 10 times his size. EVERY dark cave.


EVENTUALLY.


Hey, it's this guy! I recognise him from a hundred other games, or his attack routine anyway. He's the boss that likes to charge at the player, but ends up colliding with a wall instead when you step out of his way. You'd think he'd eventually try a different approach after repeatedly knocking himself senseless, but nope.

This dungeon didn't get me an instrument, but I didn't come out of it entirely empty handed...

Go forth my pet Chain Chomp! Feed upon the sharks and flowers, and clear me a path to the next dungeon! This guy's handy to have around, jumping around eating enemies for me, which is fortunate because there seems to be no way to get rid of him. I was worried for a second he'd be a literal ball and chain slowing me down, but he's fine.

In fact the whole game has been pretty decent so far. My only real complaint is that it keeps bringing up the same damn message the first time I even brush against a heavy object on a new screen.
"Wow! This looks pretty heavy! You won't be able to lift it with just your bare hands..." 
It wouldn't be so bad if it just flashed up "Can't lift yet!" or something similar, and let me carry on playing, but nope I have to stop and skip through three messages. And it gets a little more irritating each time.

I DON'T WANT TO LIFT THE VASE, I DIDN'T PRESS A DAMN BUTTON, QUIT ASKING ME! FOR FUCK'S SAKE!

I really hope the game gives me the gloves I need to pick up objects soon, because this is eroding my good mood.

"First, defeat the imprisoned Pols Voice, Last, Stalfos..."
I haven't a clue what that means. Hope it's not important.

Finally, I've got the item that lets me pick up pots and I'm free from that bloody message forever! Except I'm not really, as I have to have this Power Bracelet on one of my hands to lift anything. And every time I want to jump, use magic powder, or just defend myself with the shield, I have to swap it out. Either that or put up with not having a sword for a while. I've never wished that the GBC had more than two face buttons more than I do right now.

Okay, that's a Piranha Plant; now the game's just taking the piss. With my jump feather equipped I'm basically playing Mario with a sword right now. This place even has pipes!


LATER.


I don't get this, the map says there's a secret treasure hidden on this screen, which has to be the key the dungeon boss's lair. But I've tried killing the enemies, and I've tried pushing blocks, and nothing's making it appear.

Two laps of the dungeon later I gave in and asked a friend for advice. He told me that the rabbity thing is known as a 'Pols Voice', and was mentioned on that sign earlier. I was meant to figure out that I need to kill it first, then take out a bat, then finally a skeleton monster to unlock the secret. I guess this is one of those 'should have read the manual' moments, as I don't get how I could have known the name of it otherwise.

I finally got the key and made it to the dungeon boss, and immediately regretted it. It's bad enough that he's an invulnerable clown genie, but he also never shuts up. If there's one thing I despise in this game more than anything, it's skipping through pages of text, and this guy assaults me with them continually. It's a bit like trying to look through a page of screenshots, but finding a wall of text in between each of them, if you can imagine that. It's annoying.

The actual fight isn't much of a struggle though, fortunately. I had to wait until he hid in his bottle, give it a smack, then throw it against a wall. Three times. Then when his bottle finally broke, a few stabs was enough to finish him off. And instrument #2 was mine!

And there it is at last, the giant Yoshi egg! I may be six instruments short of waking it up, but this seems like as good of a place to quit as any.

I have to say that I liked this. It's a lot like Link to the Past so far, only with less messing around. LTTP liked to send me off hunting for things, like when I had to go door to door asking everyone in town if they knew where the elder was. In this an owl flies down, gives me my next job, and off I go. I really wish they'd made a few of the skills automatically activate though. It got annoying having to switch from Rock's Feather to Power Bracelet and back all the damn time.

Though I guess the game has definitely earned itself a shiny gold star for not being crap:
Huh, you can't even lift that up? Well sorry mate, but I guess you can't have it then. Oh well.


Any thoughts about Link's Awakening, my writing, or the site in general? Feel free to leave a comment! You could even request a game if you're feeling incredibly patient.

4 comments:

  1. My brother kinda ruined this game for me

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  2. "You won't be able to lift it with just your bare hands..."
    Nice review, I like this game so much =D
    That stalfos, pols voice, lasts & firsts thing was the most troubling puzzle in the game! When a onl statue say senseless things I usually forget them a screen later.......
    And this one is said to be the sequel of A Link to the Past, dont let the new hair color deceive you! Maybe Link realized how ridiculous he was with the pink hair.

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    Replies
    1. But I liked the pink hair, it demonstrated Link's conviction and courage! I mean you really need to have the heart of a true hero to go out in public and save the world with hair like that.

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