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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Hands-On Impressions (with Video) from E3 2019

Out of all the 2D Zelda games, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening specifically holds a very special place in my heart. It was one of the first that I played, and particularly due to the manner in which I played it, as well as the fantastic level and dungeon design, it still remains high on my list of favorite titles in the series. Needless to say, I hold high hopes for the Nintendo Switch remake. It was one of the titles I was most excited to try out during this year's E3, and thankfully our friends at Nintendo managed to give us a chance to both try the game for ourselves, as well as to capture some footage to showcase the game in its current form.

The first thing that stands out upon playing the new version of the title, of course, are the updated visuals. While they have proved to be a rather controversial change, my take on the matter is that the plastic-y, almost toylike art style actually very closely matches the portraits that you would find in the various "photos" you could take in-game on the original GameBoy release. That, and the title always had a sort of playful aura surrounding it. Chain-Chomps, Goombas, Yoshi stuffed animals - everything surrounding the games overall aesthetic is very unique, unlike anything else in the series both before and since, with maybe the only exception being the two GameBoy Color Oracle of Ages/Seasons titles by Capcom.


Once you get into the thick of things, at least with the section of the game I played (the very beginning moments), the remake is pretty 1:1, with any new or additional content coming later in the story. Really, the biggest change outside of the updated visuals and music comes with the controls. Anyone that has played the original remembers how much the GameBoy's controls held back the experience. Since you could only equip two items at once, and both your sword and shield counted as items, you were constantly shifting into the pause menu to swap out equipment during dungeons. One of the most welcome changes to the remake is how it takes advantage of the Switch's expanded controller options to always map the sword and shield to their own specialized buttons, freeing up the X and Y buttons for secondary equipment.

While we didn't get to test out the recently revealed dungeon creator, we did get to ask if the title would feature any of the content from Link's Awakening DX - the color dungeon, and more. The representatives we spoke to couldn't say one way or the other, so hopefully that content - or an equivalent - will find its way into the remake, one way or the other.

As for performance, Link's Awakening is a mixed bag. The resolution was definitely 720p at most during our demo, though it might have been a dynamic resolution at times because it almost felt like during scenes where the framerate was hitting closer to 60FPS the visuals looked cleaner as well. That's right - 60FPS. While most of the overworld seemed to run considerably below 60FPS, the forest seemed to run better than the main island, and especially once you're indoors or inside a dungeon, the framerate is much, much closer to a locked 60. Hopefully this means that the final game will be 60FPS across the board, instead of Nintendo deciding to lock everything to 30FPS for a more consistent experience, and in the effort of saving time. After all, it's not like such a move would be unprecedented for the company.

Regardless - I'm looking forward to seeing how the remake will hash out in the end. We'll just have to see once it washes ashore this September.

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