E3 2019 Previews Switch

Link’s Awakening played just like I remember it at E3

Though the demo didn't last long, Link's Awakening's looking like a very faithful remake.

Out of all of The Legend of Zelda games, Link’s Awakening is one of the weirder ones. It borrows characters from all sorts of Nintendo properties — the Chain Chomp in someone’s yard, the Yoshi plushie you can buy, that Kirby is an enemy(?!) — its story is one of the more fascinating and darker ones in the series, and, for myself at least, it was one of the first games in the series I played. Which makes the fact that it’s being remade for the Switch an exciting prospect.

The E3 demo ran through the very beginning of the game. After washing ashore Koholint Island, Link finds himself in the house of a man named Tarin and his daughter Marin. After a quick preamble about the island and his current predicament, Link’s handed his shield and directed toward the beach to retrieve his trusty sword.

Immediately I was surprised by just how much I remembered and how familiar it felt. It’s been almost 20 years since I played Link’s Awakening and I still knew the town and the route to the beach like the back of my hand. Seeing those familiar locations remade in 3D is a bit weird, but also fun, if only to see how it might be reimagined.

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After picking up the sword and making a quick stop by the well for a piece of heart, it was off to the woods as I prepared to head off toward the first dungeon. Moving through the woods was smooth sailing until I encountered a raccoon who, through some sort of magic, made the way forward teleport me elsewhere. The goal then was to figure out how to get past that little trickster. The key is to get a mushroom and pass it on to him.

Admittedly, the woods gave me some trouble. They’re trickier to navigate now that the world is no longer separated into discrete screens. Harder to figure out which turn needs to be taken where when the world is seamless. The remake thankfully has a map that you can set waypoints on to help mark important locations or general points of interest (and given how many secrets there are in these games, that’s sure to come in handy), which in the case of the woods helped me figure out where I needed to take that mushroom. Or it would if I had actually marked that location correctly. Good part of my confusion stemmed from me trying to figure out what I was missing because I misplaced my map marker, which led me to run around in circles for a while.

Once I got back on track, however, I made it back to the raccoon and gave them the mushroom. Turns out they were in fact a person, actually! With the way forward now clear, I headed onward through a waterlogged patch of land avoiding fish who were keen on taking a bite out of Link. The demo ended just I as I got through there, however, as the 15 minutes I had were up. Even in the short time I had, revisiting Link’s Awakening was a delight. Luckily it won’t be too long before I get to play more, as Link’s Awakening is out on September 20 for the Nintendo Switch.

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