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.]