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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Nintendo Switch Game Review

A handheld Zelda classic gets some modern love on the Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed by on Sep 20, 2019
Rating: 5 Star Rating

An underrated Zelda game from Nintendos retro handheld, the Game Boy, is now on the Nintendo Switch. Check out Kidzworld for our take on this adorable remake of a quirky classic, The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening.

By: Max Cannon

Despite the relatively recent shake-up in the Switch launch title The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, most Zelda games are mostly made up of a well-established formula. However, there was a time when Nintendo was still figuring out the direction of the franchise and was free to let things get a little bit weirder. Back in June of 1993 on one of the most influential handheld machines, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Game Boy. To give a little context to how much has changed in gaming over the last 26 years, this adventure was first released without any color but the recognizable green-tint of the first Game Boy before getting tidied up with more than just green for Link's Awakening DX on the Game Boy Color. Now, with a cutesy new art style, the story of Link's Awakening has reappeared on the Nintendo Switch in an excellent labor of love that raises the bar for a remake. 

Navigating Koholint Island is smaller, but denser, than your traditional trip to Hyrule.Navigating Koholint Island is smaller, but denser, than your traditional trip to Hyrule.Courtesy of Nintendo

What's Old is New

The story is Link's Awakening is simple, but effective, with a memorable opening both here and on the original. This time, a quick and gorgeous anime-style opening strands Link on Koholint Island following a treacherous lightning storm at sea. After waking up on the shore of this mysterious island, Link begins his adventure to awaken the Wind Fish who rests in a giant egg atop a mountain. Though players often refer to this as "one of the weirdest Zelda games" that doesn't ring as true in a post-Breath of the Wild world, however, there is a certain comfort in knowing that the traditional top-down Zelda experience is as awesome now as it was way-back-when. Though a few small changes give this a far-more streamlined experience than the game it's based upon, Link's Awakening on the Nintendo Switch feels like a fully-modern title. Things are a lot quicker than they used to be.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening - Announcement Trailer


Anyone who's played the retro Zelda games on the vintage machines is likely very familiar with navigating the item menu over-and-over. Considering the Game Boy only had a few buttons, you could only equip two different items at once which definitely slowed thing down when swapping out equipment in one of the franchise's famous dungeons. Now on the Switch, you can attack with your sword, hide behind your shield, and sprint with the unlockable Pegasus Boots all without even cracking open the item screen to swap out the equipment assigned to X and Y. Throw in some stellar visuals and a more seamless overworld and you have the best version of this beloved game.

The game's bosses are simple but mostly entertaining fights.The game's bosses are simple but mostly entertaining fights.Courtesy of Nintendo

A Traditional, Top-Down Adventure

There's plenty of mystery surrounding the citizens of Koholint Island, so speaking to eccentric villagers and discovering the secrets of the map provides plenty of entertainment. Similar to A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo, which is now also on the Switch, the game's top-down perspective means things play a little differently than a 3D-Zelda. Though you're trading with townsfolk and using hidden items to explore more of the world, the change in perspective sets gives a different pace than what Breath of the Wild-fans may be expecting. You may find this game far easier than what newer fans of the franchise are familiar with. Combat has been slightly sped up with some parry-attack combos added to small enemy encounters. Though the game's Hero mode ups the difficulty and removes random health drops to keep things feeling a little tougher. It's also worth noting that there is a new dungeon creator game here but it's pretty small in scope and since creations can only be shared via Amiibo I doubt anyone will have too much fun with this side activity.

Top down combat recieved a slight-upgrade with more shield-based battles.Top down combat recieved a slight-upgrade with more shield-based battles.Courtesy of Nintendo

You also can't ignore the excellent look of this game with a sort of stop-motion toy aesthetic that immediately reminds me of the vintage Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. This look extends beyond the adorable appearance of our hero Link but also the varied enemies and NPCs you'll come across on your adventure. And this is a Nintendo game, let alone a Zelda adventure, so the music is as excellent as ever and this game's rendition of the classic Zelda theme is one of the best.

Final Thoughts

If you're looking for an awesome top-down Zelda game on the Nintendo Switch then you really can't go wrong with Link's Awakening. It checks all the boxes of the original Zelda games, brings an all-new art-style to the table, and modernizes a classic game that would've likely gone unplayed otherwise. Don't expect anything as big or expansive as Breath of the Wild but you're sure to see plenty of charm and a lot to love in Link's very unique adventure.

Mabe Village holds some of the cutest characters you'll see this year.Mabe Village holds some of the cutest characters you'll see this year.Courtesy of Nintendo


  • Great Looking
  • Charming Music and Characters
  • Fun and Fast Gameplay


  • Forgettable Dungeon-Builder Mode
  • Normal Difficulty Might Be Too Easy 

There are plenty of secrets to uncover on this mysterious island.There are plenty of secrets to uncover on this mysterious island.Courtesy of Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Game Rating: 5

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Nintendo SwitchThe Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Nintendo SwitchCourtesy of Nintendo

Available now for Nintendo Switch

Share Your Thoughts!

Are you a fan of the franchise when it comes to The Legend of Zelda? Are you going to play Link's Awakening? What are your favorite Zelda games? Share your thoughts below and leave us a comment!