Which Link's Awakening Is Your Favourite?
Image: Nintendo Life

Link's Awakening turns 30 today, having launched in Japan on 6th June 1993. Despite the very modest hardware that hosted it, the developers turned out a full-featured, full-fat Zelda adventure on Game Boy which left a mark on the series.

Image: Nintendo

It was in Link's Awakening that trading sequences were introduced, not to mention fishing, flying with cuccos, playing an ocarina, and several other elements that became standard for the series for a long time. Perhaps more impressively, its touching reality-questioning narrative — with significant hints of David Lynch and Twin Peaks — helped elevate the boyhood adventures to rescue princesses of the previous entries into a more mature, engaging realm of storytelling.

Three decades on, there are three distinct versions of the game available to play, and two of them are on Switch. You've got the original monochrome release from 1993, the colour DX version which launched for Game Boy Color in 1998 — the one available via a Nintendo Switch Online subscription — and Grezzo's 2019 remake on Switch.

Each of these versions has its merits and fans, and we should be clear that there's certainly no 'bad' version of the game, but we wondered which of them is the preferred way to play among Nintendo fans these days. Does the purity of the OG experience trump the colour palette and extra dungeon of the DX one? Does the addition of the Camera Shop make the GBC edition the pick? Or is the reimagined Koholint from the Switch remake too lovely to pass up in 2023?

There's a poll at the bottom of the page, but first let's see what Team Nintendo Life has to say...

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GB)

It's a close one, that's for sure. However, there's something about the '93 original which just edges it for me. That's not to say DX isn't a sublime update (that's the one I played first, in fact), it just didn't add anything unmissable to the core game, and the monochrome of the initial release emphasises for me what an incredible achievement this daring, delicate game was on the Game Boy hardware.

Nintendo has proven time and again that hardware specs are immaterial when it comes to engaging the player, but Link's Awakening managed to also be melancholy and narratively thought-provoking in a way I hadn't experienced before, and being reminded of its origins enhances its effect on me. - Gavin

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC)

It really says something when my go-to version of Link's Awakening isn't the fancy-schmancy remake on the Switch. In my opinion, the DX version of the game strikes the perfect balance between the OG and the remake: it's bursting with colour that instantly makes it a more appealing prospect than the original, yet it's not held back by the dire performance issues plaguing the remake.

Honestly, I'd also go so far as to say that the DX version (and the original, to an extent) holds a certain je ne sais quoi that, try as it might, the remake simply couldn't replicate. The best pixel spritework ages wonderfully well, and Link's Awakening DX still looks fantastic to this very day, its visuals and music perfectly suited to the game's utterly charming story and setting. - Ollie

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)

I love the Link's Awakening Switch remake, warts and all. Yes, there are performance issues which make busier sequences that little bit more frustrating to get through, but I can put all that aside for just how beautiful this game is. What Grezzo managed to do was take a title that had already had something of a facelift in the DX version and do the same thing all over again with a bunch of new features thrown in for good measure.

Now there's the Dungeon Creator mode, amiibo support (with my favourite amiibo tie-in, coincidentally) and a map that feels truly unified, all bundled up in that stunning figurine art style. It takes the sense of philosophical whimsy that is so integral to the original story and dials it up to eleven. For that, it has to be my favourite version. - Jim

Wing Egg
Image: Nintendo

This is sort of by default for me, sadly, having never made the time to play any other version of Link's Awakening. It's that utterly charming art style that compelled me to dive in. It makes it feel like Link's Awakening is a child's playset. And as someone who loves to get nostalgic and loves pixel art, I'm sure that DX will eventually be the version I truly stick to. But I can't deny that the Game Boy's button restrictions aren't missed here at all.

But of course, even with the issues, it's the art coupled with the unusual story — which could easily come from a child's imagination — its atmosphere, and the new characters. I can't get over how wonderful this game looks and feels. - Alana

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