The Legend of Zelda series has been a staple of Nintendo's gaming legacy since the 1980s. The adventure games focus on the heroic Link, who does battle with Ganon's evil forces to rescue Princess Zelda and restore the Triforce, a symbol of power, to the kingdom of Hyrule.
But what would happen if Link fell out of his element?
That was the theme explored in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Nintendo Switch, based on the 1993 Game Boy title of the same name. Caught in a storm at sea, Link gets washed up on the mysterious island of Koholint, where he is charged to gather eight musical instruments in order to wake the mythical Wind Fish.
As far as gameplay goes, however, Link's Awakening plays more like earlier titles of the Zelda series. Link fights monsters with his sword, explores dungeons, solves puzzles and traps, and helps people along the way. Each dungeon houses a giant boss that must be defeated in order to gain a new instrument in hopes of escaping Koholint Island.
As far as Zelda games go, this is one of the stranger entries. His usual goals aren't present. He encounters characters from other Nintendo titles, most notably from Super Mario Bros and Kirby. When not scouring the island for secrets, he can play games or go fishing.
There are a few changes made in this remake, primarily in updating some game play mechanics to reflect more modern gaming sensibilities. As players proceed, they can collect dungeon elements to build their own dungeons and challenge friends. The biggest change, however, is the new graphical style presented for the game.
Visually, Link's Awakening looks wonderful in motion. The remake was designed to look like a toy-like diorama with a stylized look that seems as though players could pick up and play with the characters right out of the screen (the game does offer an Amiibo figurine of Link that adds extra minor play elements, and is sold seperately).
The character designs are bright, shiny, and appealing, as though they are a hybrid of the Peanuts gang of Charlie Brown and company mixed with the style of the old Rankin Bass Christmas specials. Musically, the Zelda series has also enjoyed heroic, classical style themes throughout each of its installments, and the fully orchestrated pieces here are a treat to the ears.
Nintendo has always included a sense of whimsy into its titles, and Link's Awakening is another successful product of that experimentation. Newer gamers may find the gameplay more restrictive than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's open-world gameplay, but there's always another mystery or secret around every corner to discover.
Nintendo has been releasing dozens of games to choose from for the Switch in the last few months, and highlights like this should be a top pick for any adventure fan this fall season.