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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX Review (3DS)

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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

Image © Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a celebrated Zelda game. It also has an interesting past: It was first born on the Game Boy in 1993 and then spruced up for Game Boy Color and re-released as Link's Awakening DX in 1998. The "DX" version of the game is what you'll find up for grabs on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Despite the game's tiny size, it has the heart of a lion. In a market saturated with movie-grade visuals, Link's Awakening DX will challenge you, make you smile, and maybe even cry as it concludes (go ahead; we won't tell).

Developer: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure/RPG
ESRB Rating: E
Price: $5.99 USD

THE BASICS: Little Big Quest

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX is a direct follow-up to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo. Upon defeating the evil Ganon, Link set sail for unknown lands. While on the ocean, a storm whips up and shipwrecks the adventurer on the isolated "Koholint Island." While under the care of a girl named Marin, Link learns about a legendary creature called the "Wind Fish." A mysterious owl then informs Link that if he wants to leave the island, he'll have to wake up the Wind Fish by collecting and playing seven instruments in front of the leviathan's egg.

Link's Awakening DX plays similarly to other top-down installments of the Zelda series. Link must explore dungeons, travel across Koholint's expansive overworld, swipe at enemies with his sword, and make friends with villagers. Koholint also offers Link tons of extra quests, treasures, and surprises, so it's a good idea to stray off the beaten path sometimes. Exploration in Link's Awakening DX is aided by items like the Pegasus Boots, which let Link plow through rocks, and the Roc's Feather, which lets him leap over pits. Items can be combined for maximum effect: Using the Roc's Feather in conjunction with the Pegasus Boots, for instance, will let Link jump over very wide pits, while arrows and bombs can be combined for an on-the-go explosion.


It's Heartfelt -- Link's Awakening DX never takes itself too seriously--it can't, given the game's tendency towards hyper-adorable chibi style graphics. Koholint is home to a lot of weird and wacky characters, and the game's script is full of jokes and humor. That said, the game's characters are so charming, pure, and simple that they'll remain branded on your soul long after you've turned off the game.

It Doesn't "Feel Small" -- It's not unusual for Game Boy games to just feel like the scaled-down little brothers of their 16-bit predecessors. That's never a problem with Link's Awakening DX, which feels every bit as epic as any console-based Zelda game.

It Packs in a Lot of Content -- Though Koholint Island is smaller than any incarnation of Hyrule, each screen does a great job of packing in dungeons, puzzles, traps, objects, and enemies. Link's Awakening DX is a compact adventure, but it's a busy one.

A Great Soundtrack -- If you thought the Game Boy wasn't capable of great music, you thought wrong. The soundtrack for Link's Awakening DX still holds up thanks to its unique rendition of the classic Zelda theme. The game also offers are also unique, memorable chiptunes that are still remembered fondly today, including the theme for Tal-Tal Heights and the famous "Ballad of the Wind Fish."


Limited Controls Mean Frequent Item-Swapping -- The Game Boy line of systems had an "A" and a "B" button, meaning Link can only equip two items at a time in Link's Awakening DX. Link's Awakening DX is a busy game, so you'll be accessing the item menu over and over to equip the gizmos that are necessary to propel you over a trap or a tight spot.

The "Game Boy Camera" Pics Can't Be Saved to an SD Card -- The original Link's Awakening DX was compatible with the Game Boy Camera--an accessory that snapped and printed little pictures via the Game Boy. Throughout the game, Link will have his picture taken by a mouse, who will then offer up the option to print the pictures via the Game Boy Camera. Obviously, there is no camera support with the Nintendo 3DS version of the game, but it would be nice to have the option to do more with the pictures--like save them to an SD card, for example.


Link's Awakening DX is one of the very best entries in the Zelda library--and that's no small claim (so to speak) when you're referencing one of the most beloved game series of all time. If the game's original release somehow passed you by, don't let it happen again: Grab Link's Awakening DX from the Nintendo eShop. Even if you've already played the game, it's worth playing it again. You'll be surprised at how well it holds up.
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