In the pantheon of Zelda games, Link’s Awakening is sort of an obscure one. Seeing as it’s an obtuse handheld-only game from 1993 that was never ported to consoles with a fever dream of a plot, many modern Zelda fans missed it 25 years ago when it was first a thing. That’s why many of them were very surprised to see that bouncing around the trailer for the recently revealed Nintendo Switch remake of this classic game was a Chain Chomp straight out of Super Mario Bros.
Yes, a Chain Chomp from Mario was trying to attack Link in the new Zelda game trailer.
So, this specific Chain Chomp is named BowWow. She’s the aggressively chompy pet of a local woman named Madam MeowMeow a who lives in the center of Awakening’s main town and owns a trio of Chain Chomps, two small and one large one. She lives alone and has a guest bedroom connected to her house where the Chomps sleep at night, but BowWow can most prominently be seen outside of the house barking and snapping at any passersby (namely Link) while chained to a post. At one point in the story, BowWow gets kidnapped by local Moblin thugs and Link has to rescue the weird ball-shaped tooth dog from their lair.
Upon his return, MeowMeow lets you keep BowWow as a pet for a little while where he follows you around the open world, snapping at things, eating baddies, and most importantly, devouring the strange lotus flowers that grow around the swamp, allowing Link to gain passage to the game’s second temple. See? Chain Chomps aren’t all evil. Or maybe they just become friendly once they leave a Mario game and spend some time on a nice island.
If it seems totally insane to imagine a Super Mario Chain Chomp in a Zelda game, keep in mind that it’s just scratching the surface of the crazy Mushroom Kingdom and general Nintendo references that show up throughout your quest to wake Koholint Island’s Wind Fish in Link’s Awakening. The game also has Goombas, Piranha Plants, and Thwomps to contend with in its odd subterranean sidescrolling sections, evil Anti-Kirby enemies that try to inhale Link to death in its towery temple, and giant frog guy that’s totally evocative of Wart from Super Mario 2. Oh, and there’s a character named Tarin who looks suspiciously like Super Mario, plus a literal Yoshi doll in the main town’s crane machine game store that a character asks you to procure by name.
There are a LOT of Mario references in this game. Head on over to our wiki guide page with the full list of Link’s Awakening Nintendo references to learn even more!
Link’s Awakening is a weird, wonderful game. But it’s strangely not the only Zelda game with Mario references in it! The N64’s classic, beloved Ocarina of Time has a some framed portraits of famous Mushroom Kingdom characters hanging for any players peering through the windows of Zelda’s courtyard in Hyrule Castle and the Happy Mask Salesman straight up has a freaky looking Mario mask tucked amongst his collection of disguises in Majora’s Mask. The Zelda and Mario franchises secretly have a really cool history of crossovers!
What’s your favorite Easter egg in a Zelda game? Let me know in the comments below — and be sure to check out these big pages of classic Zelda secrets: