Link’s Awakening for Switch still has lots to reveal.
Nintendo recently unveiled their latest title in the Legend of Zelda series: a Nintendo Switch remake of the cherished 1993 Game Boy game Link’s Awakening, set to be released in 2019. Fans went wild, but once we finished pointing at our screens with glee and yelling obscenities, we realized we had a few questions about how this remake would unfold, what new content it could bring to the table, and what it would cost. I’m far and away the biggest Link’s Awakening fan at IGN so I figured I’d break down some questions (and potential answers) of what to expect from this incredible announcement. So let’s get into it!
#1 – Will This Remake Cost $60?
Placeholder prices for the Nintendo Switch Link’s Awakening remake are currently listed at $59.99 on various online retailers, causing a commotion with some fans who believe the game should be budget priced when compared to much larger scale first party affairs like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. After all, this “new” Zelda game is, at its core, a remake of the monochrome (and full-color Game Boy Color) port of the original game, both of which launched in the $30-$40 price range back when released in the ‘90s. It’s also probably a ten to fifteen hour game and “feels” like a smaller sized handheld Zelda game. I adore it, but it’s certainly a tinier, more intimate experience than its console-sized big brothers, so I can see why some fans would expect the price to reflect that.
Regardless, Nintendo generally charges $60 for first party Switch games, and it’s had had no problem doing just that for Switch ports like New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, Mario Kart 8, and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. Nor have audiences had any problem snatching them up at that price (although some probably begrudgingly) as they’re all some of the best selling games on the platform, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them stick the landing with that price here too, even if the game is built on the skeleton of a 25-year-old game.
ANSWER: Yep, they’ll probably charge $60. And I’ll buy it physically, digitally, and likely snatch up each region’s special edition as well. I love this game that much and I’m probably the worst person to answer this question. I know, I know. I’m part of the problem. Don’t get mad at me.
#2 – Will the Color Dungeon from Link’s Awakening DX Return?
The first time this game was remade, it arrived on the Game Boy Color in “DX” form, sporting, well, colors! Along with that came a few interesting new additions, the biggest of which was a DX exclusive dungeon that played entirely on the GBC’s ability to actually show color on a Nintendo handheld – a fairly big leap at the time.
Which begs the question: is this game a remake of the puke green original Link’s Awakening or the full colored DX one? That remains to be seen, but the “Color Dungeon” would feel a little out of place on Switch seeing as the gimmick of “Now you can play Nintendo handheld games in color!” has been the norm for decades. I’ll also state that the Color Dungeon wasn’t that great; it’s short, fairly easy, and pales in comparison to the rest of the game’s tightly designed temples. The reward for finishing it, on the other hand, is really cool: you can choose a new tunic color for Link – red or blue – each with their own unique attributes like offense and defense. It’s the only way to get out wearing green for the whole game. So while the dungeon isn’t great, the reward is pretty cool, and having it there in some capacity would be nice for history’s sake. Or maybe – and hear me out here – Nintendo could swap it out with a new dungeon that plays on one of the cool new Nintendo Switch gimmicks, like HD Rumble. That would be a nice touch.
ANSWER: Potentially! It’s not a great dungeon by Link’s Awakening dungeon standards, but the reward is pretty awesome so I hope it stays – or gets an HD Rumble remake!
#3 – But Will Nintendo Add Any NEW Content?
Remakes, remasters, and re-releases are a very, very tricky tightrope to walk. You could take the recently launched Resident Evil 2 approach and use an existing frame to build a brand new experience that manages to celebrate the original, subvert expectations, and delight new audiences. Or you could take the Star Wars: Special Edition approach and needlessly stuff the background with CG animals, swap out entire beloved songs, and make Greedo shoot first. That method is a little more controversial. Link’s Awakening is a deeply treasured, damn near perfect game and changing too many things around would make a lot of fans upset. It’s a very delicate balancing act.
Keep in mind that everything we’ve seen of this game so far (which is, admittedly only a few key sections) has been a direct 1:1, “shot for shot” remake of the original game. No new environments, puzzles, or characters. At least not yet, at least. The biggest change so far – aside from the new art direction – is the new widescreen presentation for the overworld traversal (the original version had square aspect ratio) meaning you can see more of the world around you on Switch. However, the dungeon sections currently have black bars on the sides of them since overhauling the tile counts in each dungeon room would throw off certain puzzles, boss fights, stage layouts and more, which is less of an issue in the overworld. That said, there are definitely some simple quality of life changes Nintendo can add here, though. In the original, a dialogue box was triggered every single time you picked up certain items, and the game felt the need to explain their use to you over and over again whether you were five minutes in or five hours. That’s definitely something that could be streamlined now. They did speed up the Triforce hunt section when Wind Waker was released, for example.
Same goes for the original game’s constant item swapping which worked around the Game Boy’s two face button hardware limitations. The Switch brings with it four face buttons, four shoulder buttons, and a giant multi-touch screen (although Breath of the Wild ignored that feature entirely) so item swapping should be quicker than ever, at least. Additionally, Nintendo could likely add some Easter eggs (I mean, other than the giant one on the mountain in the background of the entire game) that reference other Zelda games, or even stuff from their other properties. The game is already rife with Mario references, so throwing a few more in subtle places would be really cool.
Oh, and maybe they’ll use the Joy-Con HD rumble feature to help you find treasure with your shovel! Ocarina of Time utilized a similar feature with the Rumble Pack!
ANSWER: We’ll probably see some quality of life changes here and there (and maybe an Easter egg or two) but I don’t expect them to reinvent the wheel with this one. It’s such an expertly designed and paced game with some of the best dungeons in the series that still hold up today, so it doesn’t really need any gigantic new changes to appeal to a new audience.
#4 – What About the Camera Shop From the DX Version?
Link’s Awakening DX didn’t just add a new dungeon, it also added a new shop! The camera shop (run by a talking mouse, for some reason) set up a side quest of sorts that periodically snapped photos of Link in key locations throughout his adventure. The photos could then be viewed and enjoyed on the Game Boy screen (and even printed out via the Game Boy Printer accessory!) and looked totally distinct from the art in the rest of the game. There were thirteen photos hidden in total.
It’s basically like if Link had an Instagram account that documented his strange travels around the island. They’re really charming and special they’d make for great shareable photos for the Nintendo Switch screencap and social media upload features, so I’d love to see them come back, even if they’d need to be totally remade like the rest of the game has.
ANSWER: Yes, I’d be shocked if this side quest didn’t make a return. It’s just too cool to skip out on and would work wonderfully on Switch. It’s an Instagram style photo gallery of Link taking selfies and throwing up peace signs and it’s a delightful and funny feature that modern audiences would love.
#5 – Could This Remake Pave the Way For the Zelda: Oracle Games Getting Remakes?
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were a fantastic and interconnected pair Game Boy Color games that looked and played like spiritual successors to Link’s Awakening. They were Capcom’s first collaboration with Nintendo on the Zelda franchise, predating their work on Minish Cap for the Game Boy Advance. Both games were totally unique and featured original stories and adventures with their own gameplay hooks, allowing you to alter time in Ages or alter the seasonal changes in Seasons with the push of a button. And just like Link’s Awakening, these games were never re-released on any modern Nintendo console and can only be played legally via original hardware or through the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, making them perfect fodder for a restoration on Switch. After all, despite Nintendo’s wild history of art styles for Zelda, it’s not unusual to see Nintendo revisit nearly identical art directions and engines across multiple Zelda games. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks on the Nintendo DS both felt similar and relied on Wind Waker’s charming cel-shaded aesthetic, and multiple games in the “Four Swords” series look cut from the same cloth, too.
Of course, the usual factors come into play when hoping for any sequel in the world of video games, and everything depends on how well the Link’s Awakening remake sells, whether or not it’s critically received, and how much it costs to develop. Either way, I’m holding out hope for the Oracle games to someday show up on Switch with these wonderfully toy-like graphics.
ANSWER: It depends, but I’m keeping hope alive. More people need to play this excellent duo of Zelda games and this would be the perfect fit. Until then, grab ‘em on 3DS!
#6 – Does the Shopkeeper Still Kill You and Rename You If You Steal From Him?
Even by typical Zelda standards, the original Link’s Awakening is filled with utterly insane characters, quests, and moments. But none of them are as bizarre as what happens if you steal from the shopkeeper in the game. See, the central town shop has an eccentric looking shopkeeper guy paywalling the game’s most expensive treasure: Link’s classic bow, on sale for a mere 980 rupees, 19 rupees short of the max you can carry. Grab the bow (or any item on the shelf) and walk behind the shopkeeper to the door and you’ll be greeted with a strange message once you step outside: “Guess what? You got it for free. Are you proud of yourself?” Re-enter the shop at any point throughout the rest of the game and the shopkeeper will recognize you, electrocute you to death, and cause every character in the game to call you “THIEF” regardless of what you named your save file. Everywhere you go. Not matter what you do. Everyone will call you THIEF. Even when you beat the game. Are you proud of yourself?
ANSWER: This is one of the best Easter eggs in any Zelda game and if it gets cut in the remake I’ll be really upset. Besides, a whole new generation of Zelda fans need to learn that stealing from local shopkeepers is wrong and this is the perfect lesson.
There’s lots to think about and reminisce over as we patiently wait for Link’s Awakening to return in 2019. Until then, what questions do YOU still have about the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake? What are your thoughts on potential price tags? And what new content would you like to see? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out these big pages of classic Zelda secrets: