Link’s Awakening Cruelly Curtailed

The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening DX boxI underwent a somewhat traumatic experience last weekend: while I was on holiday in France, my Nintendo 3DS was stolen from my bag. It’s the first time I’ve ever had anything nicked, and I was pretty upset about it as you can imagine. However, luckily I had travel insurance, so hopefully I won’t lose out too much financially, but it’s a pretty heavy blow in terms of game hours lost.

There were three games taken with the 3DS – Apollo Justice, The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass and Ridge Racer 3D –  as well as all of the games I’d downloaded onto the console. I’d barely started the three cartridge games, but on the 3DS itself I was about five hours into Crimson Shroud, and I was only two chapters from the end in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX. Now I face the prospect of having to start them all over again when I get my replacement console.

Bye bye baby, bye bye...
Bye bye baby, bye bye…

It’s frustrating more than anything else. On Nintendo’s part, I think it’s about time they introduced personal Nintendo IDs rather than tying all purchases to a specific console, as now I’m faced with the prospect of having to pay for all of those downloaded games again. Also, some sort of cloud back-up system for game saves would be a phenomenally good idea – Apple already do it for iPhone, so perhaps Nintendo should think about following suit. I’ll bet 3DS consoles get lost, broken or stolen all the time, so it would be a great service for customers.

I’m sure I’ll download Crimson Shroud again when I eventually get a new 3DS, but I’m not sure I can face replaying all of the many dungeons on Link’s Awakening just to see the last couple of levels. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game, but it’s also pretty challenging and unforgiving.

Step wary traveller, for death lurks behind every corner.
Step wary traveller, for death lurks behind every corner.

In more recent Zelda games, death has all but been removed: losing a life as Link is a rare occurrence indeed, and even then death usually only provides a minor inconvenience. In Link’s Awakening, however, death comes swiftly and frequently – this is old-school gaming.

Every dungeon is packed with enemies that can kill you remarkably quickly, and life-replenishing hearts are scarce on the ground, in stark contrast to the showers of hearts to be found behind every boulder in later Zelda games. Even harsher, when you restart after dying you’re given a paltry three hearts to begin with, so each resurrection is accompanied by a careful hunt for extra health. It takes a while to get used to after the mollycoddling of modern Zelda, but ultimately it’s a lot more satisfying: completing a dungeon really feels like an achievement.

What I want to know is who's leaving all of these rupees and hearts in the grass. Careless elves?
What I want to know is who’s leaving all of these rupees and hearts in the grass? Careless elves?

The only real annoyance I found with the game is that the map is next to useless, and in-between dungeons I often found myself looking to a guide to find out what the hell I was meant to be doing. You may hear people moan about there being too much hand-holding and hint-giving in ‘soft’ modern games, but these people probably forget the hours and hours they spent in old-school games just wandering around with no clue as to where they should be going.

Overall though, Link’s Awakening is a great game, and its bite-sized dungeons are perfect for gaming on the go. It’s just a shame I’ll never get to finish it…

[Penned in melancholy by Lucius Merriweather.]


  1. I’m sorry for your loss. I still have Link’s Awakening on the original Gameboy! I played it so much when I was a kid I used to have dreams about it. I recently went back to a game I started over 10 years ago- had literally no idea what I was supposed to do next. Before the days of internet walkthroughs it was really tough!

  2. Sorry to hear that Lew, that’s really rough :/ I’ve also only had things stolen from me once, but it was the invasion of privacy as much as the actual loss that got to me. As far as not knowing where to go next in Link’s Awakening, I seem to remember there were some phone boxes around you could use to phone an old man for advice on what to do next? Or was that just general game advice stuff?

    1. Yep, there were definitely phone boxes, although I didn’t find them that useful! Mostly just random banter I seem to recall.

      I’m just about over losing my stuff now, although I still hate the idea of someone else playing MY 3DS with their theiving, criminal hands…

  3. Oh wow, that sucks, I really feel for you! Losing all your game saves is the worst, but I’m sure eventually the prospect of playing through it again will become more attractive. Just give it time I think!
    Link’s Awakening was one my favourite Zelda games and I know exactly what you mean about it feeling like a real achievement when you complete a dungeon. It didn’t feel like it was pandering to you in any way, like games sometimes feel like now, but I agree, old-school games like that could also go a bit far sometimes and end up being a bit frustrating. That was part of the charm for me though :). Games like that were truly an experience.

    1. Yep, it’s definitely a great game, although if I was playing it back in the day without gamefaqs to hand, I’d have been wandering around in frustration for hours! Still, I like the slightly more hardcore Zelda experience.

  4. Yeah, it’s always a bit of a shock to discover that other people think nothing of thieving. Maybe I will get Link’s Awakening again… one day, one day…

  5. I have played Link’s Awakening. It was the Link’s Awakening DX on the Game Boy Colour shown in the picture (I suspect it was re-released following the success of Ocarina of Time). I think I found myself dying probably slightly more frequently than other Zelda games, particularly battling the mini-bosses. This might have been caused because Link cannot store multiple fairies, like in other games. I remember, at one point in the game, Link falls asleep on a bed and enters a dream world where all the enemies reduce his hearts by half each time, which I found difficult. I remember, between dungeons, getting help from the telephones hidden within hollowed trees throughout Koholint Island, I found these useful and helped me reach the next dungeon. I, personally, was stuck on the Face Shrine level for a long time, before being told how to progress.

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