LINKA

There’s some chatter doing the rounds on the interwebs regarding the potential pricing of the upcoming Switch remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Retailer pre-order listings are putting it as a full $60 release, and while there’s no official confirmation at this stage, people are wondering if it’ll be substantial enough to justify that sort of price tag. Below are just a couple of examples of tweets voicing doubts:

Of course, putting a universal dollar value on an experience is tough. A game that might have to sustain one gamer for six months may be a throwaway purchase that barely gets touched for somebody else. Do the hundreds of hours we’ve spent climbing and gliding around Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule mean we would have happily spent £300 on it? Probably not, but we’re still wringing value out of that full-price game, so it’s understandable that there’s concern about spending the same money on a Zelda that can be polished off in a few short hours.

Nintendo’s plans for extra content are unknown at the moment. We'd assume there'll be some amiibo integration, and the mystery of the number of players it supports suggests there may be some Four Swords-esque component in the works. Regardless, there is precedent for adding content to this very game – the DX version for Game Boy Color included various extras, with a camera shop and an extra dungeon boasting puzzles built around that system’s revolutionary contribution to Nintendo’s portable line: colour. It’s hardly the finest example of Zelda dungeon design, but it did offer something new to players who’d already finished the original monochrome version.

Arguably a more substantial upgrade than some of the more recent 'Deluxe' versions...
Arguably a more substantial upgrade than some of the more recent 'Deluxe' versions...

So, can this version possibly be worth a full $60, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with epics like Breath of the Wild which can suck hundreds of hours from your life? Well, it depends a little on your familiarity with the game. We don’t remember it being especially short, but it’s been a few years since we played it through. Yes, with the help of glitches it’s possible to speedrun the game in your coffee break (the coveted ‘Any%’ record currently stands at 4 minutes 35 seconds), but otherwise the original will take the average player around fifteen hours to beat.

Your speed might also depend on your proclivity for replaying games. We tend not to revisit Zeldas for a good long while after we’ve beaten them – not only are there are simply too many other games to play, but each adventure with Link feels epic; an event which needs some distance in order to digest and appreciate fully.

We understand, though, that many people replay them over and over, developing an intense familiarity with those worlds and the order of things. So, where a new player might wander for hours, poking around and discovering bits and pieces in the world, a veteran will more likely hot-foot to the next dungeon knowing the exact route and item they need to unlock the path. It’s the same with almost any game, Zelda or not – it’s blimmin’ easy when you know where you’re going and how to get there!

One hell of a lick of paint, wouldn't you agree?
One hell of a lick of paint, wouldn't you agree?

Perhaps it’s inevitable, then, that players who know Koholint like the back of their hand are going to feel short-changed regardless of additions and tweaks to this new version. Just as A Link To The Past veterans had an advantage over newbies when they revisited that same Hyrule in the 3DS' A Link Between Worlds, simple familiarity with the geography is going to cut down playtime, let alone knowing the dungeons inside-out. It’s arguably unavoidable with a remake – the price you pay for seeing an old world reimagined on a modern console.

In fact, with the way this game reframes the original, this remaster feels to us like a companion piece to A Link Between Worlds. The below tweet suggests the poster would have preferred to see a sequel to Link’s Awakening in a similar vein, returning players to the world they first explored on Game Boy without recycling the exact same content.

We’d argue that there’s a significant reason why this is not a sequel, but the sentiment remains that people would be more prepared to pay full-whack for a ‘reimagined’ game rather than a straight remake without extra trappings.

We’d expect the adventure to have a similar duration to A Link Between Worlds – fifteen-to-twenty hours - and sure, we’d love some extra dungeons, or an expanded Second Quest, or – even better – an official version of the Link To The Past randomizer, which shuffles all the items with each playthrough meaning you can never be sure where you’ll find the one you need. It’s not for everyone, but it would keep die-hard fans occupied while new players potter about soaking up the wistful atmosphere of Koholint Island.

Challenge dungeons and boss-rush modes could help add value, although we’ve personally had our fill of those. Frankly, we’d happily take a shorter, perfectly-formed game over the bloated alternative any day of the week. You can’t please everyone, but we’ve seen what happens when Zelda games get padded out unnecessarily; no-one wants another Triforce quest. Full-priced or not, we're very excited to revisit Koholint and play the Ballad of the Wind Fish again, and we've got an inkling that Nintendo will make the price of entry worth your while.

What do you think? Are you concerned that the game won't offer enough bang for your buck, or is it enough to simply return to that unique world in widescreen on Switch? Share your thoughts below...