• The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening


  • Action-Adventure


  • Nintendo


  • Nintendo

Release Date:

  • June 6, 1993 (JP), August 6, 1993 (US)

On Wikipedia:


  • Game Boy

DX Release Date:

  • December 12, 1998 (JP), December 15, 1998 (US)

I'm not sure why I didn't cover cover this until the "Games of October 2019" series as seen here. The grand-daddy of the Game Boy Zelda games and the recipient of an unfortunate-looking Nintendo Switch remake, the issues that surround this game have been previously explored. To make things a bit more cohesive, I've rewritten the page with some new features...like a "DX" version of the post itself.

Your adventure begins near a beach. (Source: Zeldapedia)

With Nintendo re-releasing the classic The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Switch under the same name but with forced-perspective 3D and Funko Pop-like characters, I figured it was time to dive into the classic Game Boy game again (using The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, the updated Game Boy Color re-release from 1998), and as a novelty, decided not to use any guides whatsoever, only raw trial-and-error and the knowledge from having played through the game a few times, mostly recently as of around December 2016.

What I liked about The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is you aren't exactly told the story in the first half of the game, and every dungeon item you get opens up a new part of the map. In the first dungeon, you get the Roc's Feather (allowing you to jump over small pits), then the Power Bracelet (allowing rocks to be moved), then the Pegasus Boots (allowing you to jump over bigger pits), then Zora's Flippers (allowing you to swim). The last four dungeon items have little use outside their respective dungeons, however, and the story is backloaded into the last half (spoiler alert: it's just a world manifested from a dream). Link's Awakening also has a small surprise at the end if you go the whole game without dying once, but the game compensates for being gentler in terms of hearts taken away. A permanent sword powerup that will send enemies flying across the screen can be acquired about a third into the game, drowning won't count against you, bomb explosions will never harm you, and most enemies only take half a heart, even toward the end of the game. You won't have the Shovel to dig up hearts in the overworld if you trade it for the Boomerang (which is often lethal instead of just stunning like other games) but even so, it's not bad. The DX version even has a "photo booth" feature where you could activate a sidequest for a small purple mouse to take funny pictures of Link across the game, which don't exactly much up with the artstyle presented in the beginning or the art for the game. Despite this, it is often used by stupid people in online arguments to prove that Link's Awakening was never "serious".

Sadly, the censored "necklace" is what the Switch version went with. (Source: Hyrule Blog)

If I had to play the game I'd just name myself THIEF from the get-go, which you'll be called if you steal from the shop, as it's required for the complete photo album (there are also four permanently missable photographs, which are, without spoilers):

- The first thing to do is after you talk to Richard but before raiding the castle and opening the gate, stand in front of the gate.
- At some point Marin will follow you. There are three points with photographs you only get at this point:
-- Go the very bottom left of the map.
-- Jump into the well in Koholint Village.
-- Stand in front of the weathercock in Koholint Village.

Besides, the game isn't well-programmed and having a name less than five characters will just have extra spaces ("Well, Link , you finally snapped out of it"), something I never noticed because I was always "Linky" on my games to distinguish it from my brother's save file.

There are a few other things to note: on emulators (later runs), I used an "uncensored" patch and v1.1 when playing on an emulator. Notably, this reverts the mermaid's necklace into a bra and breasts and a towel for the hippo, as was the cases for the original Japanese version, but it's such a small change that I'm not bothered by it.

"Beautiful! I'll call this 'Game Over.'" (Source: here, though wasn't working at press time)

The Color Dungeon is such a game-breaker and I wish there was a better integration to the game. If you win you'll lose your green tunic permanently for a red tunic, which looks cool but overpowers you to ridiculous standards (your sword knocks enemies to the other side of the screen), or the blue tunic which due to color palette means Link becomes an albino. In the links below is a scan of the "DX Changes" that was included in later runs of the Player's Guide as a separate page (the blurriness was always there), and yes, I apologize for mine being in such bad shape. The guide makes no hints on the Color Dungeon, though there isn't too much to worry about...though the "make all the red blue" statues are a little frustrating. Luckily there's the modern Internet, and StrategyWiki is the least obnoxious and most to-the-point.

DX Page, Front
DX Page, Back