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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX – Game Boy Color

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX – Game Boy Color

4744_frontPlatform:  Game Boy Color

Release Date (NA):  December 15, 1998

Developer:  Nintendo EAD

Publisher:  Nintendo

Genre:  Action / Adventure

Nerd Rating:  8 out of 10

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_16

Link about to be shipwrecked.

Dearest Baconeers, when I’m not reading the incredibly absurd spam comments Nerd Bacon gets or playing games clearly not designed for my age group, I’m playing games recommended to me by others. And The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX was one of those games that was once recommended to me by my now ex, who had bad taste in everything except food, video games, and me. This is also the same person who stole my treasured copy of Pokemon LeafGreen……but this isn’t Croc’s Melancholy Hour here, it’s review time.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_143

I didn’t believe it either…

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_27

The Piece of Power and the Guardian Acorn give Link short boosts of power and defence, respectively.

Now for those of you who don’t know, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX isn’t an original Zelda game, it’s a remake of the Game Boy title The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It might seem strange that a game would be remade within such a short amount of time between the original, but DX isn’t simply the remastered-HD remake crap we’re constantly fed these days, DX‘s improvements were actually worth the production of a new game. One of the most obvious improvements was the addition of color. The original Link’s Awakening was in black and white, and is the only Zelda game to have ever been so. (And yes, the Zelda Game n Watch IS in color!) DX not only added color, but included an entirely new dungeon with puzzles designed around color which, upon completing, allowed the player to choose from one of two new tunics that greatly enhanced Link’s offence or defense.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_36

Mini-boss Rolling Bones may look familiar as he is featured in promotional footage.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_46

Unique to DX and the original are the talking Nightmare Bosses.

The story in this remake however, is exactly the same; Link’s boat is capsized during a storm at sea and he awakens on the strange Koholint Island. At the beginning of the game, Link awakens in the home of Tarin and Marin, who tell you that the island’s monsters have been acting up since Link’s arrival. The Owl character provides more information about it, explaining that the monsters are afraid of the Wind Fish awakening, which would result in the island disappearing. Following the same eight-dungeon formula from the original, Link is sent around Koholint Island to gather the eight musical instruments to wake up the Wind Fish in order to leave the island.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_32

Menu screen which is reused in the Oracle games.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_70

BowWow is required in order to reach the third dungeon.

As with most Game Boy Color games, the controls are simple due to the limited amount of buttons on the handheld. Link can move by using the directional pad and even move diagonal when two adjacent directionals are used at once. In order to use items and equipment, the player must assign an item to the A and B buttons from the start menu. It’s really as simple as going into the menu and pressing either A or B over the item you want to equip. While it may seem kind of simple and ordinary, allowing players to decide which items to assign to what item in-game is actually really resourceful. Perhaps you need a specific weapon for a boss fight to be in spam-able reach, then assign it to whichever of the two buttons your thumb typically is nearest to with your grip. And thanks to the menu on the bottom of the screen, you’ll know exactly what you have equipped in which slot along with your health and total rupees.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_43

Part of the comical in-game trading sequence.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_122

Sometimes Link will have to use nearby objects to progress.

Like all games in The Legend of Zelda series, Link will gain different pieces of equipment throughout the game that will allow him to explore more areas of the island as well as defeat more enemies. For example, the Roc’s Feather will allow you to jump over single holes which is needed to reach the area around the third dungeon. Other items, like the Boomerang aren’t necessary for the adventure but will come in handy. The Boomerang, by the way, is actually the most overpowered item in the game and can be gotten from the in-game trading sequence.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_88

These winged items require you to use Roc’s Feather to get them.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_85

Recognize anything?

When I first decided to review this game, I was stuck on the idea that The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX was an easy game since I managed to beat it in a day during my last playthrough. However, as I replayed it in order to capture screenshots for this review I realized that it’s actually a lot harder than the Oracle games. It’s easy to assume DX is easy because of the over-powered Boomerang that can even defeat the game boss’s final form in a single hit, but the adventuring aspects of the game are where the game shines. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX and its original are filled with puzzles, even more so than the puzzle-oriented Oracle of Ages. And these puzzles are really tricky. Especially the horse-head one. The first time I played the game I needed a guide just to figure out how to get the key for the first dungeon. And even in the earlier dungeons I was stuck because there was a wall I didn’t know I needed to blow up. So Boomerang or not, this game gives you a good challenge for your money’s worth.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_107

BowWow fights……Donkey Kong?!

Another one of the reasons DX was worth making is its influence on the two following Zelda Game Boy Color games; Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. If you’ve ever played either of them before you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The two Oracle games clearly take a lot of their elements from DX, including design, color palettes, even some of the puzzles from DX are reused. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, both Oracles are good in their own right. The Oracles games are also connected to DX in the official timeline with a linked Oracle of Ages ending in Link leaving Labrynna on boat, the same boat that capsizes in the beginning of DX.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_130

Later seen in Oracle of Seasons in the second dungeon.

What has also made DX and it’s original so unique among The Legend of Zelda series is the amount of references that are made to other Nintendo franchises and games. This includes look-alike characters, actual character cameos, enemies directly taken from other games, and even easter eggs like the Yoshi doll or Peach’s picture. I found myself looking for all of the different references as I played, which in turn got me to check out games I had never played before like Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru. DX also works with the Game Boy Printer to allow players to print several photos that are unlockable throughout the game. The method of unlocking each photo has different requirements such as going to a certain area while an NPC is following Link or meeting a notable character, like the friendly Zora.

Legend of Zelda, The - Link's Awakening DX (U) (V1.0) [C][!]_144

One of the first in-game photos you can get.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX is a game that I highly recommend playing. The game’s writing is really fantastic and it leads you through the mystery of the Koholint Island with interesting, Twin Peak inspired, characters and the big question of what is really going on? While I wasn’t a fan of not being able to save the game until I died (which of course means you have to go for the Perfect ending in one shot), I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting this old treasure of The Legend of Zelda series for Nerd Bacon. This also knocks out another Game Boy Color game in my goal of beating and reviewing every GBC game.

Stick around, I’ll be talking about the Oracles series really soon.

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc is Nerd Bacon’s Editor and handheld maven, who spends one third of her time working on the site, another third splurging on Amazon, and the final third sleeping.


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  1. AbyssalOblivion
    AbyssalOblivion says:

    Link’s Awakening, though seemingly unpopular, was actually one of my favorite Zelda games growing up, and actually the first Zelda title I ever played. Great review of it! You covered everything. Looking forward to your Oracles series reviews.

    • I’m right there with you AbyssalOblivion. This was also the very first Zelda game I ever played (well, the original Game Boy version was) and I loved this game! It was a ton of fun and a great adventure game for the road. Great review! Oh, and I was unaware that this game wasn’t all that popular. But I guess that makes sense.

      • AbyssalOblivion
        AbyssalOblivion says:

        I just meant unpopular in the sense that most people don’t really talk about it. That and no one really seems to mentions it when you bring up the topic “What’s your favorite Zelda game?”


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