The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening E3 2019 Hands-on Preview

We got the chance to play the newly re-imagined remake for The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, at this year’s E3.

The remake is a fresh look at the classic Game Boy action-adventure game, albeit with new visuals and quality of life improvements throughout.

Can this remake live up to its legacy? Read our preview below with takes from a few of our staff that played the game:

Brandon Orselli’s take:
The original Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is one of my all-time favorite games, and one that I played heavily in my Game Boy as my parents frequently drove between Virginia and New Jersey. It always has a special place in my heart, so when the remake was announced I was screaming.

While I was originally a bit sad that the Link’s Awakening remake didn’t use some kind of modern sprite/pixel art, the 2.5D-ish style they went with really captures the magic of the original game. This visual style also helps maintain the feeling of scale the original game had, all those years ago.

It’s something difficult to explain to younger gamers that are used to huge, highly realized 3D games, but the overworld in Link’s Awakening felt really expansive, despite its now-dated pixelated graphics. From the get-go, I felt right at home and it was like playing the game for the first time.

The game definitely seems like it follows the original progression to a fault, and that’s totally fine. Longtime fans of the original like myself will be overjoyed to see the classic and best (in my opinion) Zelda game ever made, in all its glory – just in a prettier and high-definition package.

One thing I was really curious about was how many quality of life improvements Nintendo would be adding to the game, and I’m happy to report they’ve improved some key things I disliked about the original.

For one, you can now map two items from your inventory, over the original game’s single item equip slot. The screen also scrolls with Link, so there’s no longer that awkward screen panning when you hit the edge of an area.

The demo covered most of the beginning of the game – from Link waking up in Marin’s house, to his journey to acquire the sword. From there you have to explore the Lost Woods, encounter that jerk Raccoon, and then some. I seriously wish I could have played more.

Everything about the Link’s Awakening remake is just an unadulterated love letter to fans of the original. Even its soundtrack, while now an orchestral style, feels just like it did all those years ago. I enjoyed my brief time with the game so much that I’ve been imagining how old areas will look now.

While Zelda fans will always argue over which game is better – Link’s Awakening or A Link to the Past – this remake has stolen my heart once again and I seriously can’t wait to revisit Koholint all over again, this September.

Rory Hutchings’ take:
Released back in 1993, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening quickly became my favorite Game Boy game on the system only later to be overtaken later by Oracle of Ages and Seasons down the line. Still I have fond memories of the game as it is still one of my favorites in the series.

When Nintendo announced a remake of the game for the Nintendo Switch I was filled with excitement and some worry. During E3 2019 I was able to play a short demo of the game and left impressed.

From Link waking up in Mabe Village with Marin by his side, the start of the game was noticeably similar to the story I played long ago. Right from the start I headed to the beach area to find Link’s sword, and then I finally began my quest.

From what I remember of the game, it did not deviate from the original story and is a straight retelling of a classic. The most noticeable update is obviously the graphics. Going the route of using a stylized, almost clay-like style graphics, the game looks bright, vibrant, and great overall.

My initial reaction to the trailer before left me with some mixed feelings, however during my short time with the game It quickly grew on me. The characters and enemies were animated very well and presented in an enjoyable way.

As expected, with it now being on a higher resolution than before, there is more viewing and gameplay area on the screen at one time.

The screen also no longer shifts over when link reaches a side on the screen, instead now it just scrolls with him. The two dimensional gameplay elements are still intact, just with a much larger field of view.

The biggest quality of life change is adding two buttons dedicated to items in your inventory. For those who have not played the original version, you’d be constantly bringing up your inventory to assign an item to either the A or B button.

Now, however, you have one button dedicated to attacking with your sword, one for your shield, and the other two for anything else you may want or need to use. While it’s something minor, it does fix one of the more annoying issues due to the lack of buttons of the long past handled.

As with the graphical style, the audio of the game is a redone version of the original soundtrack. The music of Link’s Awakening is a collection of orchestrated tracks of the original game. Even with the minimal amount of time with it, I can’t wait to listen to more of it.

There really is not much else to say about Link’s Awakening. If you played the original you know what you’re going to get. I am thankful that its staying faithful to the original, with a few improvements.

While my demo was only 15 minutes long, I can’t wait to play the final version. I loved playing it on the Game Boy and am looking forward to diving into the final version on the Switch this September.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is launching for Switch on September 20th

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