The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening might seem like the pint-sized sibling of the sublime Link to the Past, but many regard it as the superior release, despite the cruder visuals and sound. The 1993 Game Boy release was one of the first titles for the handheld which showed it could match its home console relatives when it comes to hosting deep and engrossing experiences, and it was remastered in 1998 on the Game Boy Color as Link's Awakening DX. It has since sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
However, in an interview with director Takashi Tezuka - originally printed in Game Informer issue 269 - it is revealed that the project began life without the express permission of Nintendo itself:
The main programmer wanted to challenge himself to create a Zelda experience on a portable system to see what he could do, and I was into the idea. We just had a passion to try and do something interesting. We didn't really have permission to do it necessarily. We were just playing around Once we got it to a certain level of creation and completion that we wanted to show, then we took it to the company and got permission to continue developing it, but initially it was just a little pet project of ours. Because we started it that way – just making a game we wanted to make – it may defy Zelda conventions. It might have interesting characters and situations we may not have had otherwise.
While we can't imagine that Nintendo would have blocked the game at any point, it's interesting to learn that Tezuka - now in a very senior role within the company - took the gamble based purely on his passion for the concept.
[source gameinformer.com, via gonintendo.com]
Absolutely loved this game, no other Zelda has managed to capture the same atmosphere.
This is arguably my favourite Zelda game. I absolutely adore it!
"It might have interesting characters and situations we may not have had otherwise."
This needs to happen sometimes over at Nintendo between the tried and true breadwinners
The lack of references to this title in subsequent games is a sin.
Well, it helped make the best Zelda game, so glad they took that gamble.
@AlexOlney At least it got a reference in Hyrule Warriors, with the Power Gloves for Link being BowWow.
Not anywhere near my favorite Zelda games, but it's neat that the project started off in that way.
A big reason why this game is so great is because of Yoshiaki Koizumi who also wrote and designed Majora's Mask. I wish Nintendo would let him make another Zelda game.
This, alongside with the other GBC Zelda games (the Oracle ones) is a masterpiece. These three are easily my 3 favorite 2D Zelda games, even though the othes are pretty fantastic as well. Actually, Majora's Mask might be the only one I like more than these.
Should I buy Link's Awakening or A Link to the Past?
@anders190 a Link's Awakening remake in the lush style of Minish Cap would be brilliant! Though I'd love to see them tackle a hand-drawn top-down iteration too. All these franchises move into the 3D space and I'd rather they'd not.
Link's Awakening is my favourite Game Boy game, next to Mystic Quest/Final Fantasy Adventure. I played both as a child and loved them and came back years later, retreading my steps, rediscovering how heartfelt they were. In retrospect Link's Awakening impresses me even more than it did back then.
It's my favorite Zelda game. It's actually my first video game, alongside tetris.
As it has already been pointed out, this is very old, readily accessible news. Still, more people should be interested in this amazing game, so hopefully this helps them out.
My favorite Zelda! The passion for this "pet project" shows, and I'm so glad Nintendo published it!
Yup. This has been known for years now.
I'm not sure if I've played this or OoT more, but I love both equally.
LA was my first Zelda experience, I was determined to figure everything out without using a guide. It took months and it was so satisfying!
I wasn't aware so many people actually consider Link's Awakening better than A Link to the Past.
To me ALttP is clearly rhe better game but that's just my opinion...
And look how well it turned out. 😄
@MitchVogel Same. Its second to Phantom Hourglass to me.
It just shows how much one can do when he/she is filled with passion and determination.
I recently tried the Link's Awakening DX I got from Nintendo as a Club Nintendo reward (I had big backlog) on my 3DS, and I must say it is really good.
Really amazing actually considering it is a Game Boy game. Thank goodness Nintendo gave it a thumbs up
And he made one of the top 3 Zelda games because of it.
Man the story in this game is so deep without really much exposition.
I like link's awakening better than link to the past because there's more freedom.
Link to the past was very rigid on how you had to do things, with generally one solution to any problem.
Jumping and pegasus boots, along with bomb arrows allowed players to be more creative. There are a lot of ways to do things that you probably shouldn't be able to. Jumping alone makes this one of the best zelda games!
Just be sure you don't trade the shovel right after buying it, and buy another shovel... makes it impossible to complete the game!
Nintendo needs more projects like that. Just one of a few people playing around with a concept until it feels like a solid foundation and then making it into a big project. Weren't both A Link Between Worlds and Splatoon like that?
I utterly love this game, it's without a doubt one of my favorite games ever. It was my first portable game (so actually the first game of mine, not shared with my dad as the Gamecube and N64 were) and I ecen had it before being gifted my GBA SP. To this day, I still don't know why we had that game lying around our house since the first GB to enter it was my GBA SP.
Last summer I embarked on a quest to replay a bunch of 2D Zeldas and I started from here: it's ecen more brilliant and touching than I remembered.
That isn't "news". That Iwata Asks was published years and years ago.
I was excited to get it on vc but I never beat it. It just didn't draw me in like most Zelda games. The same with Minish Cap though that case might have be the constant menu navigation. Take five steps open menu, repeat. It might not be as bad through the rest of the game though.
I'll give both of them another chance someday.
@r4ind4nce wow, final fantasy adventure. Talk about a game i havent heard of in years... One of the few gameboy games, along with Links Awakening, that i actually liked
In the mid 90s i was the epitome of a SNES kid, laughing at my friend whos family could only afford gameboy. Everything he had was just a lamer version of what i had, i thought. He tells me theres a Zelda game for gameboy and i assume its some Stupid little spinoff title. 8 hours later were both huddled around that tiny screen, completely engrossed in the love story between link and marin, and the secrets of the island, planning on gettting our parents to buy us a super gameboy the next day!
This is my favorite Handheld Zelda title, and one of my favorites period. There is a pretty meaningful story you can glean out of it. Very symbolic. There have been some good articles written up on it if you do a quick search, well worth looking at if you feel the game is lacking story.
Link's Awakening is possibly my favorite portable experience out of all the Zelda games I've played. The relative freedom and creativity in this game are refreshing, and it's rife with Mario references (Who doesn't love leading around the Chain Chomp?). Many of the characters are memorable, the main/final villain was a refreshing change of pace, and the soundtrack is sublime.
@khaosklub More freedom in Link's Awakening? Let's revisit both games.
After you bring Zelda to the Sanctuary, you can pretty much explore the entire overworld, with the exception of Death Mountain and the Upper Zora's River area because of Power Glove rock barriers. Otherwise, you can pretty much go anywhere (except for swimming in deep waters).
Meanwhile, Koholint Island is pretty much restricted. You can't even leave the confines of Mabe Village and the beach if you don't get the sword. Until you claim the Roc's Feather (Level 1) and the Power Bracelet (Level 2), you can't really explore the island. And even then, you still need the Pegasus Boots to reach the eastern portions of the island, the Flippers to swim and access vital areas, and forget about exploring the western hills without the Hookshot or the Iron Shield. In short, you're forced to explore dungeons and reclaim key items to open up the overworld.
That makes Link's Awakening a lot more linear. In A Link to the Past, once you get to the Dark World, all you need to do is get the Hammer on the Dark Palace, which leads to the Titan's Mitt on Level 4, and you can pretty much access both worlds from beginning to end.
@MitchVogel, Couldn't have said it better. I still remember the days where I continue to play the game over and over again, just for the sake of reliving each area/dungeon in my old gameboy.
And I'm so glad they did. Link's Awakening is, imo, the best handheld Zelda ever made. It's not nostalgia speaking either, I started playing it a couple years ago and fell in love instantly.
Link's Awakening DX
@Gauchorino Yup, the article itself mentioned that it is old news, but no one seemed to notice. They site their source as Game Informer issues 269, which in itself is a year old.
Ah Koholint Island... I'm glad this Zelda existed as it was a very fun departure in the Zelda universe from the usual Link/Zelda/Ganon rinse & repeat. I'm glad it opened the door to the series to have Link explore worlds not named Hyrule.
Exactly how I feel. I love the atmosphere and story of this game. It's the primary reason why it became and stayed my favorite Zelda. I realize there are many others which are better, and I've played them all 100% through. But this experience is the one I personally enjoy most.
BTW, maybe it's no coincidence that my favorite show is Lost. Crashing on a mysterious deserted island with something strange going on? Finding a way to leave the island is no simple task? The island even vanishes at one point? Hmm...
THIS is how games should be made, with passion! They wanted to challenge themselves to do something fun and unique, and it was a great success!
Ever since I read about Takashi Tezuka, I've felt that he was overshadowed by Miyamoto.
A bit like Stan Lee overshadowing Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby.
Game is fantastic. Great map design, stunning music, not enough people talk about this game now. The perfect companion to ALttP.
@SNESDisney Stating that some people like LA more than ALTTP isn't a potshot. It's just reporting some people's opinion.
Also, WW hurt the franchise? HAHAHAHA!! I'd ask you to justify that in a way that doesn't just boil down to "I didn't like it so it sucks", but I already know you can't.
@dudujencarelli You also forgot about all the obstacles in the dark world, such as hammer posts and rocks that need the level 2 power gloves, when you were glossing over all the walling off in ALTTP to try and make a point that's incorrect.
This is probably one of my favorite portable games of all time. I've always hoped for a re release, using maybe wind waker graphics. Just seems like a right fit. It was also my first real adventure into the world of Zelda.
...and yet everyone can't shut up about Eiji Aonuma's Zelda titles lately.
This game is in my top 3 Zeldas of all time. It has such a special place in my heart and childhood. Just one of those that has now been built into me. Everything about it is perfect. Its so light and fun yet eerie and mysterious at the same time. If any of you get a minute, search google images for Links Awakening concept art. Its incredible.
@Rocky2418 Couldn't have said it better myself. LOVE this game. Also...I love the show Lost too and your Crono avatar is awesome! Are we clones??
That seems probable. Yeah, CT is my all-time fav game.
Actually, I forgot to mention that I did a "Ballad of the Wind Fish" music level in Mario Maker, if you or any fellow L.A. fans might enjoy checking it out: 6CB9-0000-00DB-7D4A. (Since there's no official page to post those codes on this site anymore.) I've also done some Chrono Trigger and Cross music levels. And for any who don't have the game, I attempted to record them and put 'em up on YouTube. (No capture device, though, so forgive the quality.)
I am probably a bit biased because this was my first zelda game, but this is still today one of my favourite zelda's and easily my favourite portable zelda, the music on this game despite it being gameboy quality melts my heart. A fantastic game every zelda fan should play it
@BigBabyPeach That......explains alot. I mean Majoras mask is one of the darkest Zelda games, but Links awakening is pretty freakin dark to. I mean all the bosses in the world are actually good. I mean the reason they keep the god fish sleeping is so the world can stay existing. They don't do it for power or world domination, but just so thier world dosen't fade. Which adds a great question of does our dreams create actual living people in our dreams. as in they are fully aware of thier world and life. and do they disapear after we awaken from our sleep............
@Rocky2418 Same here! Im glad somebody else has things figured out. Haha
one of my faves zelda games!!
This was already known. It was a little project outside their work, and the result was fantastic. They maybe should do that again, but without Miyamoto. He doesn't seem to have much vision anymore (or at least not the vision I like)!
@LasermasterA Woow, your code did work? I took it during the last month of the Club and mine was never accepted.
@mjc0961 You only need the Titan's Mitt to actually access Levels 5, 6 and 7. And the Titan's Mitt is easily reachable once you get the Hammer from the Dark Palace. All you need to do is enter the Dark World from Kakariko Village, using the Hammer shortcut.
That pretty much enables Link to travel through both worlds without being hindered by obstacles, long before going to levels 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8. You can get to Level 8 right away. You just can't open it without the crystal, obviously. I consider that to be freedom of exploration, as well as being able to do the aforementioned levels in pretty much any other (as long as 2 is done prior to 5, 6 and 7 because of the Hookshot).
I meant in terms of puzzles and obstacles, not the map.
And in mobility too.
Well...I claimed mine a very long time ago and had it downloaded Just never got the time to play it haha.
I made it a point to use all my codes as soon as I got them, in case they became too old or something.
@LasermasterA I see. Then it was just bad luck: I tried to claim my game minutes after receiving the e-mail.
Wow that's indeed bad luck. Maybe some incorrect letter? Although I don't think Club Nintendo given codes are even valid anymore, so doesn't really help >.<
@LasermasterA Yes, so much bad luck you had to write it three times.
Wow something is seriously wrong with this site >.< I just clicked reply once. Oh well deleted the duplicates.
@LetsGoRetro surprising even, since there's just been a remake, albeit for PS Vita (only Japan for now, though there's a campaign to have them release it in the west) and android/iOS. I instantly got it on android on my tablet, since I have a controller adapter and it's a pretty good recreation, very close to the original unlike Sword of Mana, which was less of a remake and more of a re-imagining.
If you're interested, it's called Adventures of Mana (since Seiken Densetsu/Mystic Quest/Final Fantasy Adventure was the first Mana game). I didn't think much of the art style at first, it looks a bit like the DS remakes of FF III and IV, but it's really grown on me and the artworks and newly arranged music are gorgeous.
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