Link's Awakening: Hands-on preview from E3 2019

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening looks different, but so far it feels just as we remember it. Shacknews goes hands-on at E3 2019.


There are a lot of fond memories of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. With decades having passed since its original release and with numerous console Zeldas having seen the light of day since then, it has gone down as a largely-overlooked classic. Nintendo is now looking to bring awareness of this game to a new generation with a Nintendo Switch remake.

The main premise of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is hero Link coming to his senses and waking up on a strange island. And while the original game's art style harkened closer to traditional Zelda games of the time, this 2019 remake features an entirely new 3D cartoon style. Shacknews wakes up from our dream state long enough to go hands-on with this reimagined classic.

Link's Awakening

The start of the game should ring familiar to old-school fans. Most everything is the same as it was in the original game. Link awakens on Koholint Island, unaware of how he wound up there. He's found passed out and taken in by Marin and her father Tarin. Tarin passes Link a Hylian shield that washed up, while informing him that more items are lying on the shores just south of town.

The game's 3D presentation does open the door to a few key differences. Some of the changes are inconsequential, like Tarin no longer bearing a resemblance to a certain mustachioed plumber. Other changes affect the overall gameplay. Link's shield is a key tool, able to block spears chucked by aggressive Moblins or shove aside spiky Gordos. No, that's not a typo, Gordos from the Kirby series are here, as are a few other minor anachronisms that make Link's Awakening stand out from other games in the Zelda series.

After picking up Link's sword, it was time to walk through the nearby Mysterious Forest. The objective is to find a Toadstool and bring it to a local witch, but a pesky raccoon teleports Link around, requiring some further exploration and backtracking. Finding the Toadstool involves walking through caves and hidden areas, while navigating puzzles to get around.

Link's Awakening

It's hard to get into the major changes for Link's Awakening, because much of it felt refreshingly similar to the original game, as well as other old-school Zelda games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This extends to the simplicity of the game's combat, with the Switch's face buttons tied to Link's sword, shield, and various inventory items.

Surely something's changed about this game since its Game Boy release, right? Nintendo isn't commenting about any major changes to Link's Awakening, making it all the more interesting that the opening minutes felt oh-so-familiar. Whether players will encounter any significant changes over the course of their adventure remains to be seen.

One thing they will be able to find that Shacknews wasn't able to check out is the unique dungeon creator. Players will find dungeon components over the course of the game and be able to apply them to their own creations. Players can run through their dungeons for rewards and for the thrill of the challenge. Look for more information on the dungeon creator as we get it.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening looks to be a faithful return to Koholint. Right now, it's looking close to, if not a total, 1:1 re-creation of the original game. If that does prove to be the case, new fans who have never had the joy of playing the Game Boy classic are in for a treat. Link's Awakening is set to release on September 20 on Nintendo Switch.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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