Legend of Zelda, The: Link’s Awakening

Legend of Zelda, The: Link’s Awakening
Game title:
Legend of Zelda, The: Link’s Awakening
Game Boy
Action, Adventure
Takashi Tezuka, Shigeru Miyamoto, Takamitsu Kuzuhara
Minako Hamano, Kozue Ishikawa
Game manual:
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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a 1993 action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy. It is the fourth installment in the The Legend of Zelda series, and the first for a handheld game console.

Unlike most The Legend of Zelda titles, Link's Awakening is set outside the kingdom of Hyrule. It omits locations and characters from previous games, aside from protagonist Link and a passing mention of Princess Zelda. Instead, the game takes place entirely on Koholint Island, an isolated landmass cut off from the rest of the world. The island, though small, contains a large number of secrets and interconnected pathways.

In Link's Awakening, the player is given advice and directions by non-player characters such as Ulrira, a shy old man who communicates with Link exclusively by telephone. The game contains cameo appearances by characters from other Nintendo titles, such as Wart, Yoshi, Kirby, Dr. Wright (renamed Mr. Write) from the Super NES version of SimCity, and the exiled prince Richard from Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru. Chomp, an enemy from the Mario series, was included after a programmer gave Link the ability to grab the creature and take it for a walk. Enemies from Super Mario Bros. such as Goombas also appear in underground side-scrolling sections; Link may land on top of them much as with Super Mario Bros., or he can attack them in the usual way: both methods yield different bonuses. Director Takashi Tezuka said that the game's 'freewheeling' development made Link's Awakening seem like a parody of The Legend of Zelda series. Certain characters in the game break the fourth wall; for example, little children inform the player of game mechanics such as saving, but admit that they do not understand the advice they are giving.

After the events of Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, the hero Link travels abroad to train for further threats. A storm destroys his boat at sea, and he washes ashore on Koholint Island, where he is taken to the house of Tarin and his daughter Marin. She is fascinated by Link and the outside world, and tells Link wistfully that, if she were a seagull, she would leave and travel across the sea. After Link recovers his sword, a mysterious owl tells him that he must wake the Wind Fish, Koholint's guardian, in order to return home. The Wind Fish lies dreaming in a giant egg on top of Mt. Tamaranch, and can only be awakened by the eight Instruments of the Sirens.

Link proceeds to explore a series of dungeons in order to recover the eight instruments. During his search for the sixth instrument, Link goes to the Ancient Ruins. There he finds a mural that details the reality of the island: that it is merely a dream world created by the Wind Fish. After this revelation, the owl tells Link that this is only a rumor, and only the Wind Fish knows for certain whether it is true. Throughout Koholint Island, nightmare creatures attempt to obstruct Link's quest for the instruments, as they wish to rule the Wind Fish's dreamworld.

After collecting all eight instruments from the eight dungeons across Koholint, Link climbs to the top of Mt. Tamaranch and plays the Ballad of the Wind Fish. This breaks open the egg in which the Wind Fish sleeps; Link enters and confronts the last evil being, a Nightmare that takes the form of Ganon and other enemies from Link's past. Its final transformation is 'DethI', a cyclopean, dual-tentacled Shadow. After Link defeats DethI, the owl reveals itself to be the Wind Fish's guardian, and the Wind Fish explains that Koholint is all Link's dream. When Link plays the Ballad of the Wind Fish again, he and the Wind Fish awaken; Koholint Island and all its inhabitants slowly disappear. Link finds himself lying on driftwood in the middle of the ocean, with the Wind Fish flying overhead. If the player did not lose any lives during the game, Marin is shown flying after the ending credits finish - she is shown in the form of a winged woman when played in the original black and white format, while she takes the form of a seagull if played with color in the DX version.

Like most games in The Legend of Zelda series, Link's Awakening is an action-adventure game focused on exploration and combat. The majority of the game takes place from an overhead perspective. The player traverses the overworld of Koholint Island while fighting monsters and exploring underground dungeons. Dungeons steadily become larger and more difficult, and feature 'Nightmare' boss characters that the player must defeat, taking different forms in each dungeon, and getting harder to defeat each time. Success earns the player heart containers, which increase the amount of damage the player character can survive; when all of the player's heart containers have been emptied, the game restarts at the last doorway entered by the character. Defeating a Nightmare also earns the player one of the eight instruments necessary to complete the game.

Link's Awakening was the first overhead-perspective Zelda game to allow Link to jump; this enables sidescrolling sequences similar to those in the earlier Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Players can expand their abilities with items, which are discovered in dungeons and through character interactions. Certain items grant access to previously inaccessible areas, and are needed to enter and complete dungeons. The player may steal items from the game's shop, but doing so changes the player character's name to 'THIEF' for the rest of the game and causes the shopkeeper to knock out the character upon re-entry of the shop.

In addition to the main quest, Link's Awakening contains side-missions and diversions. Collectible 'secret seashells' are hidden throughout the game; when twenty of these are found, the player can receive a powerful sword that fires energy beams when the player character is at full health, similar to the sword in the original The Legend of Zelda. Link's Awakening is the first Zelda game to include a trading sequence minigame: the player may give a certain item to a character, who in turn gives the player another item to trade with someone else. It is also the first game in the Zelda series in which the A and B buttons may be assigned to different items, which enables more varied puzzles and item combinations. Other series elements originating in Link's Awakening include fishing, and learning special songs on an ocarina; the latter mechanic is central to the next Zelda game released, Ocarina of Time.

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