Many of us know the story of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening's development: once A Link to the Past went gold, programmer Tōru Ōsawa began experimenting with Game Boy development kits to see how far he could push a Zelda experience. The results were so impressive that more staff started contributing to this unofficial passion project and eventually it got the thumbs up from Nintendo top brass to enter full production.
But one important element is often left out of this tale, the foundation of Link's Awakening wasn't built from scratch. The team used the skeleton of a recent Game Boy release developed by R&D1; Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru — translated as The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls.
Unlike its younger sibling, this game never had the chance to leap out of Japan and we're still waiting for an official localisation, although in 2011 passionate fans took matters into their own hands.
Those moments in Link's Awakening where the perspective shifts from top down to side-scroller? That comes directly from The Frog for Whom the Bell Tolls. Heck, even the font comes from this game. The two are very tightly knit and without this game's foundation and influence, Link's Awakening as we know it wouldn't be anything like it is today.
Join us as we explore the groundwork set by Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru and dive deeper to see what makes it distinct.