From the moment of its first reveal the Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening captured Zelda fans’ attention with its eye-catching diorama aesthetic and reimagining of a classic. The Game Boy original transposed the top-down style of A Link to the Past on Super NES to a handheld in a way few thought possible given the Game Boy’s exceptionally modest specs. The project began as a port of the 16-bit game, but the end result was a dreamy, engrossing adventure that matched (and some might say surpassed) the ambitions of many of the home console games.
As befits such a storied series, several entries have been remastered over the years, although perhaps surprisingly, Link's Awakening on Switch is arguably the first totally ground-up remake we've ever seen - Nintendo seems reluctant to put out revisions of games without worthwhile and substantial additions. With that in mind we thought it was worth looking back at the revisions we have seen in the past and see what they streamlined, tidied up and added to the mix.
So, let’s start with something that has a very familiar flavour at the moment…
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (1998)
Link’s Awakening is not only the latest in the series to be revisited, but it was also the first Zelda game to receive a remaster. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX came out five years after the Game Boy original to accompany the launch of the Game Boy Color - there’s no prizes for guessing the main addition it brought. As well as up to 16 colours, an extra dungeon, a camera shop and Game Boy Printer compatibility were added along with some minor script tweaks.
The DX version is backwards compatible with the original monochrome Game Boy, which makes it tough to justify playing the original over this version under any circumstances – this really is the definitive version of the game! Well, it was until very recently.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (2011)
You could argue that the GameCube port of Ocarina of Time available on promo disc was a sort of remaster as it upped the resolution of the original game and added new content in the form of the ‘Ura Zelda’ expansion originally planned (and canned) for the 64DD. That ‘Master Quest’ aside, it was the sterling 2011 version on 3DS which really earned the ‘remaster’ moniker. Developed by Grezzo, the same company behind the new Link’s Awakening remake, Ocarina of Time 3D used the handheld system’s touchscreen for inventory management which gave instant access to items like the Iron Boots which were a pain to equip (and unequip, and then re-equip) in the original. In truth, we’re not certain the Water Temple truly warrants the reputation it’s gained over the last two decades as a complete and utter nightmare, but minor tweaks made that dungeon a little more approachable this time around. Optional gyro aiming in first-person was added along with a hints system and a remixed version of the aforementioned Master Quest. Oh, and it runs at 30fps (over the original’s 20) and there’s stereoscopic 3D.
Possibly the game's greatest triumph, though, is the tightrope it walks between delivering visuals ‘as you remember them’ while giving almost everything a fresh lick of paint. It’s not until you return to the Nintendo 64 version that you realise quite what an overhaul this was. If we're super picky, the lack of rumble feedback could reasonably be considered a step back from the N64 original, and we’re not sure Grezzo quite recaptured the morning mist hanging over Lake Hylia before sunrise, but it’s very tough to argue that this isn’t the optimal way to play Ocarina of Time in 2019.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (2013)
The Wind Waker HD took the timeless art style of the GameCube original and gave it a 16:9 canvas to shine on. As the title suggests, it added full HD and a host of minor gameplay and control changes to make for a smoother experience. The infamous and oft-maligned Triforce Quest towards the end of the game was streamlined in this update and a new, faster sail for your boat sped up navigation across the ocean, too. The Wii U GamePad displays a map and provides access to your inventory, and also functions as the main screen should you wish to play in Off-TV mode. Miiverse integration and the ability to snap selfies rounded out a very attractive repackaging of a classic.
In fact, aside from the new bloom-heavy lighting model which divided opinion and is a distinct departure from the original, the only step this remaster really put wrong was releasing on Nintendo’s least successful mainline console ever. We’re sure anyone desperate to play The Wind Waker has already done so, but in terms of Wii U ports yet to make the jump to Switch, this one’s an absolute open goal.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (2015)
The success of the previous 3DS remaster made 2015’s Majora’s Mask 3D a no-brainer, although Nintendo held off for a long time before announcing it which resulted in fans instigating the Operation Moonfall campaign. As with its previous effort, Grezzo sanded off the rough edges of the N64 original while keeping its disturbing, surreal spirit intact. It includes all the control and touchscreen changes from the previous game and added a much-improved Bomber’s Notebook, fishing holes, a new side quest, boss battle tweaks, more save statues and various other tweaks to many areas and mechanics alongside the visual overhaul.
The pressure of the three-day time-loop that put some people off in the original was mitigated somewhat by the ability to travel to a specific future hour in the cycle and the combination of these myriad buffs makes the 3DS the best place for newcomers to play both of the Nintendo 64 Zeldas.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
The other HD Wii U update of a GameCube original, Twilight Princess HD benefited from similar GamePad-based upgrades to The Wind Waker HD. Developed by Tantalus alongside Nintendo itself, it also got an exclusive dungeon called the Cave of Shadows and numerous tweaks across the board to freshen it up. Many players will have experienced this as a Wii launch title which ‘flipped’ the entire game and the geography of Hyrule in order to make Link right-handed. Considering the basic motion waggle of the Wii version (as opposed to the more precise system of Skyward Sword), it always seemed like a drastic solution to a very minor problem, but this remaster reverts to the GameCube map and puts landmarks back in their vaguely Ocarina of Time-based locations.
Add in a bunch of amiibo support and you’ve got another very strong Zelda remaster. Is it worth tracking down a Wii U for? Probably not, especially if you’ve got a GameCube or a Wii. If only there was another option…
That’s the lot, unless you want to start splitting hairs about the cross-platform editions of Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild or arguing that the addition of the Hurricane Spin to the Game Boy Advance port of A Link to the Past constitutes a ‘remaster’.
So, what does the future hold in terms of remasters and remakes? Well, we know Breath of the Wild 2 is on the way, but realistically that’s a 2021 game – holiday 2020 at the earliest – which leaves a big Zelda-shaped gap in the Switch’s release schedule once we’ve all woken the Wind Fish. Inti Creates boss Takuya Aizu recently mentioned a dream to remake Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, a desire various people have echoed in the past. Of all the games, that one is certainly the standout in terms of entries which could do with an overhaul – it has moments of surreal magic and music to match the best in the series, but they’re buried in mechanics that have aged poorly.
Series boss Eiji Aonuma joked about a possible Skyward Sword port for Switch before a company statement walked back the possibility. The obvious way to go would be to throw the Wii U versions of Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD on Switch - that would surely go down very well with the millions of Switch owners who skipped the Wii U. Then again, now that Grezzo has the Link’s Awakening remake under its belt, why not remake the Oracle games or the GBA's The Minish Cap in the same style? Why not go back to the original NES game and use it as a template for a ‘Zelda Maker’ which could switch Game Styles between '8-bit', '16-bit', 'Toon' and 'Dreamy Diorama'?...
Whatever the future holds, Nintendo is busy beavering away on the brand new game and there are no doubt other projects bubbling away in the minds of Eiji Aonuma’s team. That said, we're sure somebody will be wielding the (re)Master Sword before too long and we’ll see more vintage Zelda adventures polished up and put out on Switch. And if they continue hitting the high bar set by the examples above, we’ll be more than happy to revisit each and every one.
Which of these remakes was most successful? Are there any where you’d prefer to play the original instead? Is The Legend of Zelda on NES really a remaster of the Famicom Disk System original? Feel free to get into the nitty gritty in the usual place and tell us what you'd like to see in the future...
Would love ALTTP in this new style done for Links Awakening.
Also patiently waiting for a Skyward Sword port of some kind.
I want the Oracle games remade next, personally.
It's insane to think that we never had a true remake until 2011. LoZ is such an insanely popular franchise, and with all of these latest remakes and remasters in the past decade, it's hard to imagine this trend is just so recent.
There was also the remake of the first Zelda title for Super Famicom Satellaview called BS Zelda no Densetsu. This predates Links Awakening DX.
Rip zelda 3rd quest.
I've played all of them and loved all but one. I really enjoy seeing what developers do to improve upon games that were already master class works. Of these, my favorite is either Twilight Princess HD or Majora's Mask 3D.
The Wii U ports were excellent, and both deserve a second life on Switch. I can do without a Zelda II remake. I'm squarely in the Skyward Sword remake group - that was an excellent Zelda that's constantly undervalued because of the Wii Remote controls. Give me a streamlined version of Skyward Sword leading up to BotW 2, and I'd be very happy.
Turns out, the Zelda remasters I would like the most on Switch are :
For just one simple reason : graphics would win so much on this games to be in HD.
I would have said Zelda 2, Adventures of Link, but now that you mentioned it, the 2 Oracle games on 1 cartridge with the benefits of having both games sounds really good. I loved those 2 games.
Either that or having OoT and MM on one cartridge is always welcome.
master quest is not ura zelda.
also i prefer the n64 version of oot cause the 3ds version kind of destroyed the atmosphere in a lot of areas. it overly brightened them, removed a lot of blood on walls etc, link looks a lot "fatter" in first person view when using the slingshot and touchscreen controls are necessary for certain actions..
No,Wind Waker was on Gamecube and had a HD remake on Wii U that's at minimum 37 million legitimate chances to play it.at this point people asking for a port of that before other things are being a bit selfish.
For me Link Between Worlds is a kind of remake too.
Playing through Wind Waker HD right now and loving it (First time through the game since 2003), but no thanks on a Switch port of the Wii U effort. I'd rather see the GameCube version be emulated like we're seeing with GameCube and Wii classics on the Nvidia Shield in China.
Screenshots of Wind Waker rendered in HD were many people's first exposure to the fan-made Dolphin emulator. The GameCube original is very beautiful in HD and I'd argue the only difference of note with the Wii U port is the bloom lighting, but it's of course a huge difference that greatly changes how the game looks.
So if Nintendo wants me to buy and play it a 3rd time, give me the regular lighting of the GameCube original, but with it rendered in HD like via Dolphin.
That all said, what I really want is to see A Link Between Worlds be ported to the Switch and upgraded to high-definition.
I'd love an Adventure of Link remake that added a bunch of additional areas and sidequests, made the combat easier (with a Master Mode that was as brutal as the NES game), and redid the graphics with the animation quality of Wario Land Shake It.
I would like to see them do remakes of the DS games, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. I would like to see them change those games to get them away from the DS-specific things like the touch screen and microphone stuff. Perhaps they could figure out a way to offer touch-based or traditional controls as options. The Oracle games and Minish Cap are decent candidates too, though Minish Cap is done in a style that I don't think needs to be remade. But doing the Game Boy games(original and Color) is not a bad idea. I don't necessarily want to see future remakes done in the visual style of the new Link's Awakening, though.
Wind waker is still my favourite! Maybe the new links awakening will change that 🤔
I want to see The Legend of Zelda CD-i HD Remakes with the original animations redone in HD. Maybe package it with the Mario games in a Mini device...
I think it'd be cool to see a remake of Phantom Hourglass. But definitely I'd love to see the Oracle games get remade first/next. I still have the original copies of both. Such amazing games
I love you too, NintendoLife... XD
Technically there is a huge reason to play the original Link's Awakening over the DX version, and that was screen warping. That glitch was patched in the remake.
Links Awakening DX is still the definitive way to play the game. Honestly other than maybe the GameCube games due to not being able to uninvert the C stick, the originals are the best way to play these games.
@Obito_Sigma We almost got one on Game Boy Color. The Oracles games were originally planned as a set of three games, with one being a remake of the original NES Legend of Zelda.
I'd love to see remakes of the first two Zelda games because the rest of the series is as playable now as it was when it came out. Those two are a bit tough and obtuse in places.
@mjharper to me the motion controls was the saving grace of that game. Can't get over the retreading of the same three places. (Still a good game though, just my least favourite Zelda.)
@dartmonkey Technically the first zelda and ALTTP got remasters to through the satellaview. I didn’t see any mention of them in the article. Both games were official nintendo remasters though. (Zelda 1 was a 16-bit remake. ALTTP had a remastered orchestral soundtrack and some new stuff)
I loved wind waker and twilight princess on the GameCube but I got a whole new appreciation for them with the hd remakes on Wii u they are the reason I still hold onto my Wii u they both need to be ported to switch
This has probably been answered many times elsewhere but is the extra dungeon in DX in the new Switch version? I assume it is, but didn’t realise there ever was one until I read this article, which is pretty cool as it means there will be some brand new content for me having only played the original version many years ago. Is the new dungeon optional?
@Geobros I agree. A kind of remake, reconstruction. A pretty good game indeed. I love it. But it's not that original.
Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, someone may come and say that many games are not original and they're still good and all of that, but I think ALBW is ALTTP with some new mechanics and dungeons. Is it a problem? Of course not. But I think it should have made the list
@kyleforrester87 the color dungeon is in there, yes, and its optional
Still don’t like the style of the new Links Awakening.
But loved all the other remake/remasters.
Would love the oracle games to be ported though as they were brilliant. Also originally there was going to be three games not two, that’s why there are three animals which you use in these games.
OoT and MM HD remakes on one cartridge- OoT 3D was my 1st zelda game and it was pure magic, esp. on the 3ds xl
@Bustacap that’s cool, thanks
My favourite outcome would be Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD ported to Switch. Lots of Wii U ports already and Wii HD remasters like Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition are a step in the right direction for not having to rely on my Wii U to be able to play certain games.
Give us a legend of paper zelda
You should have mentioned the BS Zelda game, which added a clock to the game, as well as weather effects to the first Zelda.
I owe a lot to Nintendo's Zelda remasters as they've made some excellent games more accessible on modern systems. I was late to the Zelda party by many standards as Twilight Princess on the Wii was my first ever Zelda game. With the exception of TP HD (which this Zelda nut also picked up. ), these remasters were my first run for each of these games. My first experience with Link's Awakening DX was on the 3DS VC, so I'm not sure if that technically counts here.
IMO the next best candidates would be a Skyward Sword HD remaster and remakes of both Oracle games in the charming new style that Link's Awakening on the Switch has been translated into. Porting The Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD to Switch would also be easy money for Nintendo.
1) you forgot BS Zelda 1 for the Super Famicom Satellaview;
2) LttP GBA also added Four Swords mode. Enhanced port maybe, rather than full remaster, but the core game still needed optimising for a different screen and set of buttons, so feels like splitting hairs;
3) you forgot Four Swords Anniversary for DSiWare;
4) you forgot Hyrule Warriors on 3DS and Switch.
Updating the Oracles seems like the obvious next step, if the rumours of Skyward Sword HD were greatly exaggerated. Personally I’d rather get an enjoyable version of Zelda 2 though.
The SNES had a remake of the first Zelda for the satellaview thing
You can get a functioning rom of it, I played a few years ago. Reminds me of mario all stars but for Zelda.
I'd love zelda 1 remade with links awakening graphics
The best is Twilight Princess HD but Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D are also so great games (and remakes).
Why no Mario hd remakes?
@tendonerd Super Mario 64 deserves to be remade. It's easily the best Mario 3D game.
@BlueOcean wasn't it remade for the day? Guh huh!
I don’t think A Link Between Worlds is a remaster. That would be like saying Pokémon Gold and Silver are remasters of Red and Blue because you can return to the Kanto region and fight the original gym leaders again. A Link to the Past GBA also adds in a new dungeon, multiplayer mode and new enemies (Like Likes), which is surely as noteworthy as a camera shop.
Also, enough ports (especially if they’re putting this much effort into it). Give us something new to play.
Nintendo has sooo many games that people want in HD that they could support the switch for YEARS with minimum effort.
You forgot the BS Satellite version of The Legend of Zelda.
You forgot GBA remaster of A Link to the Past, which added true Like-Likes, a new dungeon, link voice affects, a revised (corrected script), a new side quest, the Hurricane Spin, and a new set up for buttons and items and the like.
It's certainly the best way to play Zelda 3, and it's sad that that version has never been rereleased since.
@May_Nyan How is it? Is it good?
@marandahir That was the first version I played of A Link to the Past. It includes Four Swords which was later expanded for Gamecube.
remakes aside i'd LOVE a brand new top-down zelda in the style of ALBW & the new LA.
I wouldn't mind getting both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess ported to the Switch.
Skyward Sword too but they'd need to totally remake that game because id never play it like before on motion controls.
Skyward Sword I believe is currently the Zelda game in the most need of a remaster. The game was graphically held back by the Wii's outdated tech and, though they certainly weren't horrible, I believe the motion controls can be improved or maybe even taken out entirely. Would love to see SS HD for Switch soon.
@Tempestryke It's been a while but I found it more enjoyable than the NES version
I thought before they should do a Skyward Sword remaster sans motion controls. But now, I would love to see them do it with the JoyCons
What was the new side quest added to Majoras Mask 3D? I've played both versions but I don't remember anything new on the 3DS.
Ideally, all Zeldas from the pre-disc and HD days would see a remaster for future generations to enjoy
The Legend of Zink: A leak before bedtime.
I'd be happy with any Zelda remake. Having these gems on the portable Switch console is amazing.
@able_to_think Heck. Yes. It's my hoped for remake in the series.
@kyleforrester87 The Color Dungeon is optional, but totally worth doing. After beating it, you get to choose 1 of 2 items to help you on your quest. I will let you find out what they are on your own.
I'd like to see a remake of the swiitch version of Link's Awakening without all the dropped resolution and fps.
I think they should remake Wind Waker and finally finish the job this time.
Man I want Twilight Princess HD and Wind Waker HD on Switch. Also Ocarina and Majora HD of course.
@Level_Up That's essentially what A Link Between Worlds is! Also I too would love a Skyward Sword remaster.
@justin233 It would make a ridiculous amount of sense to remake the Oracles with this engine. The originals had the same art style as Link's Awakening so remasters should just like look this one!
Hoping for a new zelda game with windwaker style but wont happen probably
@Giygas_95 and don't forget Wind Waker on WII U and Twilight Princess are both 30fps 1080p. I hope if they port it they will give us proper 60fps version. I'm sure the lack of power from WII U it wasn't possible. Let them show us the power of Switch
My first hope would be a Wind Waker/Twilight Princess HD Collection, followed closely by a remake of TLOZ (NES) in the same style or similar to the Link's Awakening one. I've been playing it like crazy since it arrived, and I adore it.
I've got a feeling Nintendo won't want to flood the Switch with Zelda remakes/ports. So maybe we'll get one more (possibly Skyward Sword) and games like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess will head to Switch 2.
Surely they gotta revisit ALTTP at some point?
LTTP has a much darker style to it though. Don't think it would really work with this exact art style.
Majora's Mask remake was a dumpster fire. It saddens me how many people's first exposure to such a beautiful game was with the 3DS version. Ocarina of Time for the 3DS was such a labour of love. Such a shame Majora's Mask for the 3DS clearly wasn't.
Splitting Hairs? ALTTP on GameBoy Advance had an extra palace which was quite hard. AFAIK there's nowhere else to play that dungeon.
@Alucard83 That would be great, but I don't really see it happening since, to my knowledge, all 3D Zelda games have always targeted 30 FPS. I think when it comes to those games, Nintendo doesn't see 60 FPS as necessary like they do with, say, Mario games.
No mention of BS Legend of Zelda? That was a remake was it not?
Four Swords adventure remaster would be nice!
@Level_Up EXACTLY what I was thinking! Except perhaps in the style of Link Between Worlds
@LinktotheFuture I just beat it, and obviously I went red 😎
@kyleforrester87 I always go red, myself.
Four Swords was not expanded for Game Cube. Four Swords Adventures on the Game Cube is a separate title, a distant sequel to the Game Boy Advance title.
LP/FS Advance was how I first played A Link to the Past, too.
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