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Nintendo reimagines classic "Zelda" game on Switch


Francesco Corso, News Editor

In film, “remake” is something of a dirty word. It often means that studios are rehashing an existing IP without adding anything new to it. In video games that is somewhat of a different story. For games, the concept of a remake is to take an existing game and recreate it on new hardware, complete with new visuals and sometimes music, while retaining what made the original so great. This is at the core of Nintendo’s latest entry into its long-running “The Legend of Zelda” franchise, a remake of the series classic “Link’s Awakening.” 

Released on the original black-and-white Game Boy in 1993, the original release of “Link’s Awakening” launched to near-unanimous critical acclaim, currently sitting at a score of 89.82 percent on the game review aggregate website GameRankings. This latest outing is not the first time this particular game has received the remake treatment. The game was ported to the Game Boy Color in 1998 under the title “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX,” which not only gave the game an expanded (albeit still primitive) color pallet but also added an optional dungeon. That release currently sits at an even more impressive 91.21 percent on GameRankings.

The story of Link’s Awakening is pretty simple. After defeating Gannon in “A Link to the Past,” Link leaves Hyrule in search of adventure, which leads him to get shipwrecked and wash ashore on Koholint Island, with this only way off to collect eight magic instruments and use them to awaken the wind fish. This setting means that most characters from other games, including the series namesake Princess Zelda, are absent from the story.

Returning to the Switch version, however, the biggest change that players may notice between this game and the original is the art style. Gone is the 8-bit pixel art that characterized the original, and a new 3D claymation style takes its place. Despite being in 3D, the game retains its top-down perspective and remains dedicated to the traditional 2D top-down “Zelda” gameplay that was set in the 1991 Super Nintendo classic “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,” and most recently affirmed in the 2013 3DS entry “A Link Between Worlds.” The game also replaces the original chiptunes with masterful new orchestrations by Ryo Nagamatsu.

New to the Switch version is the dungeon editor, which is unlocked after a couple hours of gameplay. This feature allows the player to create their own customized Zelda dungeons. This is done by arranging various room configurations into any shape the player desires. These dungeons can be played by the player or traded to others in order to challenge one’s friends.

“The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” serves a small but important game in the series, which serves the important job of tiding gamers over until the release of the highly anticipated sequel to “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” which currently has no known release date. The game currently retails for $59.99 and can be bought from most major stores that carry video games or can be purchased digitally for the same price on the Nintendo e-Shop.