News Article

Link's Awakening Turns 20 Years Old

Posted by Tim Latshaw

First portable Zelda was a dream come true

Two decades ago, on 6th June 1993, Japanese gamers were the first to explore the mysteries of Koholint Island in what is still considered by some to be among the top Zelda games in the series — all on the now-humble Game Boy, no less.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was originally intended as a port of A Link to the Past, and treated as a side project until it took on an identity of its own. The development team ended up taking several departures from previous titles, including a setting technically outside of Hyrule and a host of tongue-in-cheek Nintendo character cameos including Peach, Yoshi and Kirby.

Link’s Awakening proved a long-term success for the Game Boy and is reported to have sold nearly 4 million copies. A DX version was released in 1998 to take advantage of the Game Boy Color’s palettes and is currently available in the 3DS eShop.

There are many wonderful memories to take away from Link’s Awakening and its surprisingly deep story, such as Marin, The Ballad of the Wind Fish, our first introduction to long-winded owls and more. Please share yours in the comments below.

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User Comments (54)



RupeeClock said:

Classic, classic title. I've lost count of how many times I've replayed this gem.



Bobhobob said:

Happy birthday! It just happens that I'm playing it now on 3DS VC!
oops, DX version, but pretty much the same thing.



TimLatshaw said:

Real Talk Time: Link's Awakening is the first game I remember that drew a strong emotional response from me. It was the day I realized games were capable of doing more than providing a fun diversion.



TwilightV said:

Kinda stupid that you can only complete DX's photo album by becoming a THIEF.



smashbrolink said:

I really wish they'd do a follow-up to this next.
Link deserves to meet Marin's awakened version and mete out a happy life with her after one last adventure. She would have been a great match for him.
I still remember how close she came to confessing and how Tarin messed up her chance.
I raged so hard, but in the end it was still a fond memory.



Algus said:

I still think Link's Awakening is a gorgeous game. Perfect mix of quirky humor, classic Zelda gameplay, and aesthetic design. It is definitely my favorite Zelda game.



gavn64 said:

Top class title i just cleared it for the first time on the 3DS VC a while ago and what can i say... great story, great gameplay, great graphics the whole package maybe we could get a sequel to this one day NINTENDO on the 6DS in the space year 2033



RevolverLink said:

I freaking love Link's Awakening; the only Zelda title that I hold closer to my heart is Majora's Mask.

I still can't believe Nintendo managed to squeeze that game onto a Game Boy cart.



Electricmastro said:

Ironic for me how I played Link's Awakening alot when I bought it on eShop last year, but now that everyone is celebrating it, i'm playing Ages and Seasons.



Lobster said:

@Rumbler Well it can't be Noctowl as Noctowl didn't exist yet.

This is one of my favorite games of all time. An all time classic. You know what I am amazed by? The music! It pulled some pretty impressive tunes out of that brick!



Pichuka97 said:

My first Zelda game I ever beat. I really love the games atmosphere. It's probably my favorite Zelda game.



Giygas_95 said:

Amazing game. Hard to believe it was on the humble Game Boy. It and the two Oracles are some of the finest in the series.



FilmerNgameR said:

Links' Awaking DX is one of the BEST Zelda games I've ever played the bosses and dungeons were amazing!



Dpishere said:

I purchased this game from the E-Shop and I must say it was money well spent. Though I have only played it once I very much enjoyed the time I had with it and plan to play it again soon! I haven't played the Oracle games yet and I have a feeling those will be even better!



ouroborous said:

great game but why, oh why didnt they give ALL of the gameboy games on the 3DS VC the DX treatment? i mean come on, it would go along way for helping to validate the price (cause if you plan to buy them all, it starts to get pricey for old games of which you already have the original carts).



Capt_N said:

I just beat this not this past Sunday, but the Sunday prior, just before the Oracle titles came out last Thursday. I am proud to say, as a Zelda fan, that aside from being lazy w/ the signpost maze, & using Gamefaqs for that, although I could have more than likely done that myself, I did not use, a game guide for anything to do w/ the game. The only other exception was I went to a Zelda wiki, & started to read about Link's meeting w/ the windfish, & a little explanation on the character. I stopped after I felt I was getting too much information that would spoil the fun for me.

@ouroborous: According to dykg(Did you know gaming? on youtube), there is a possibly that Metroid 2: Return of Samus was going to receive the color treatment. Either that, or the image shown in an issue of Nintendo Power was just a mock-up image.



Triforce83 said:

My very first Zelda purchase on my trusty big Gameboy (which is still going strong) back in 1995-97 and the first Zelda game i completed before my older brothers, (they both completed LTTP & OoT before me). So Links awakening holds a very special place in my heart as one of my favourites as its what got me so heavily into the Zelda series and showed i can beat my brothers at their own game lol.



GamerZack87 said:

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Windy Fish is one of my favourite handheld Zelda games. The only ones that top it are Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages and the semi-non-existent Mystical Seed of Courage.

@Shiryu: That...was...AWESOME!



Pro-N-Gamer said:

This one was the third Zelda i played for hours and hours.. Remains as one of my most favorite Zelda handheld titles



CowLaunch said:

It was the first game I became truly immersed in, and the best 2D Zelda in my opinion.



belmont said:

In my opinion Link's Awakening is the best Zelda game with Majora's Mask coming second. LA has likable characters and a plot that you actually care for something uncommon for Zelda games because most have bland and boring storylines.

I have played the game a lot of times and still am not so sure for the nature of the Wind Fish and the monsters. This game is an example of adventures that will be forever remembered like classic rpg adventures.



hamsterfactor said:

Probably my favorite Zelda game, and definitely my favorite Game Boy game Can't count the times I've beaten it.



seronja said:

bought a DX version about a month ago on the 3ds e-shop, still have to start playing it, but there is just no time...



Sanqet said:

Played this when it first came out all those years ago and it's still my favourite handheld zelda and for me it's only beaten by the two n64 zelda's



Zeldalover said:

In my own personal opinion, not even most of the great 3D Zeldas can top this. It has a great sense of balance for dungeons and exploration. The overworld is by far... the best in the entire franchise. Individual dungeon themes, the legendary 'trading sequence', the seashell collectibles scattered throughout the land of Koholint. I can also point out that the game was the first to introduce unique sub-quests in the form of mini-dungeons (Kanalet Castle being the finest example). I also liked the huge amount of rupee treasure chests that can be found in the caverns of each area. A masterpiece of game design and music. It never fails to impress. Even after 20 years.



twistedbee said:

It was my very first Game Boy game. It came bundled with the original game boy that I got for Christmas when I was 7 yes old and after all these years it's still my most memorable Game Boy game. It will always have a special place in my heart!



efac said:

I remember buying this with some money I won from a Gamesmaster magazine contest (along with a mega drive 2 & mega cd!)..... Absolutely loved it! I don't care what Hyrule Historia says....this takes place directly after A Link to the Past!!



MagicBox said:

Some friends and I were at the "Symphony of the Goddesses" concert yesterday in Atlanta and they actually started things off with a "Link's Awakening" suite in honor of its 20th birthday! It was one of the highlights of the night.



Whopper744 said:

Fantastic game. Loved the style of it.

....and the title for this article...I see what you did there.




P-Gamer-C said:

How far can this nostalgia turn our eyes the wii u 7 months in still doesen't have any must have games?



MetalKingShield said:

What I like about Link's Awakening is that it keeps it simple. There are no real gimmicks - no time travel, no turning into animals, no light world/dark world mechanic. You simply control Link in a well-designed overworld, using good items and taking part in an enchanting story.



Rapido said:

@TimLatshaw Same here brotha', same here. My first ever Zelda game and the First game that almost made me cry. I've replayed the game over and over just exploring koholint island and finishing the game when I was a child. I'd level this as one of my top games along with Wild Arms 1. Truly one of the Gems of the series and a True classic Masterpiece.



bezerker99 said:

I still need to beat this game. I've had the original black & white cartridge version of this forever. That and the DX version on my 3DS are just begging for me to play them! D:



chewytapeworm said:

Best Zelda game, EVER!! Getting all misty eyed over the memories we had and the time we spent together...

I'ma think I'm gonna lay back, drift off, and revisit the isle of Kohilint... One more time...



unrandomsam said:

I really liked it (Got all the seashells and the l2 sword without a guide and found the bit where you swap the spade for the boomerang) but then played A Link to the Past and finished it on the same day i got it. Not sure which I think is the better game probably a Link to the Past but they are too similar for my liking.



Relias said:

After the disappointments that were Link's Adventure and A Link to the past... this game restored the magic of the Zelda Series.. and is one of the reasons I still get excited everytime I hear about a new's that awesome... a true Classic..



TreesenHauser said:

True story: Just like @Volmun, this was in fact my first Zelda game. Little did I know how much Link's Awakening would change how I looked at games and ultimately would get me into an amazing franchise that hasn't really let me down yet.

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