If there’s one word that encapsulates this remake of the GameBoy classic, it’s endearing. I was seven years old when Link’s Awakening came out for the GameBoy. Watching the opening cinematic of the game in fully rendered HD (and color) gave me chills down my spine and set the tone for yet another magical Zelda (and Nintendo) E3 experience. I played through the demo three times, meaning I had 45 minutes hands-on with Link’s Awakening (possibly more than anyone at E3). My first playthrough, I explored a bit, tried to see what was the same, and what may have changed. On my second and third playthroughs, I tried to b-line to the dungeon and finish as much as I can. I didn’t beat the dungeon, but I got fairly close, which is pretty good considering I haven’t played it since I was a kid. That being said, I had a fairly full experience with the game. This may be the best game of E3 2019.

Link’s Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview: Return to Koholint

Link's Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview

Love at first sight

The first thing that instantly popped out at me was how vivid the characters are. Link, Marin, Tarin; the artstyle allows them to be more expressive than ever before. It’s a nice contrast to the melancholic tone of the story. The game is reminiscent of The Wind Waker in that sense; now that style has been translated into 2D space. The characters look adorable! Koholint Island has always been one of the more unique Zelda locales, even moreso than Termina, and the world has finally been brought to life. Exploring the overworld is continuous; there are no transitions. The depth perception is very cool; things far off in the distance are blurry but get sharper and clearer as you approach. Your sword and shield are equipped automatically, unlike the original game, so the two equip slots are freed up. The map allows you to set markers, like in Breath of the Wild, so you can easily remember to return to any given area.

Link's Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview

Can you steal?

During my first playthrough, I simply wanted to explore and soak in the experience. The map is the same, beat for beat, but for the first time, it’s alive. It’s magical. This is how Koholint was always envisioned. The music is orchestrated with some incredible arrangements, namely with the Saxophone. As we were waiting in line, they played various arrangements from the soundtrack; it brought me to tears. The very first thing I did is to go down to the shore and get the sword. I passed the two boys playing and the BowWow in the yard. So nostalgic. After that, there was one thing I had to find out: can you still steal from the shop? Well, the answer is yes, but it is much more difficult than the original. I remember stealing all the time from the shop, returning, only to have the shopkeeper go all “Emperor Palpatine” on me. As a seven-year-old kid, that actually scared me! I couldn’t steal, but the Nintendo reps assured me that you could, but only a handful of people had done it. I didn’t want to waste my time, as I only had 15 minutes until the demo timed out.

Link’s Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview: Classic Zelda

Link's Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview

I was enamored..

The new Koholint is so immersive. It cannot be stressed enough. You can run around, talk to people, go fishing, explore, go to the dungeon, play minigames, etc., all within the span of this demo. While the world is bright and expressive, the tone of the game is melancholic, which is a sharp contrast. I have personally always maintained that Link’s Awakening is darker than Majora’s MaskLink’s Awakening is vintage Zelda, which is a breath of fresh air. Classic items and dungeons are back. Dungeons and puzzles have always been my favorite aspect of Zelda, and Link’s Awakening has some of the best to offer in the series.

Link’s Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview: Hoot!

A melancholic tale..

My path took me to the forest. As a test of my memory, I was able to get the dungeon key rather quickly with minimal help (I wanted to get to the dungeon!). In Link’s Awakening, you have to obtain a key to enter each dungeon. Going through the dungeon was nostalgic, but at the same time refreshing. Puzzles are my favorite aspect of the Zelda series, and those were somewhat lacking in Breath of the Wild. The first dungeon isn’t too hard, but with a 15-minute time limit, it’s hard to complete. I was able to get the feather (one of my favorite Zelda items), which allows you to jump, and I almost got to the boss but failed to on my last attempt. My mistake my second playthrough is I didn’t get the compass; I thought I could skip it and b-line through the dungeon. I was wrong. I did get 45 minutes hands-on with Link’s Awakening though, so by my final run, I was fully acclimated.

Game of the Show

Link's Awakening Nintendo Switch Preview

I’ve never gotten this far..

Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch was the best game that was playable at E3 2019. After going hands-on with the game for 45 minutes, I can say definitively that it will be the best 2D Zelda game ever made. The game is unmatched visually, the characters are expressive, the world is vibrant, and Koholint Island finally feels alive. The depth perception is incredible and everything on-screen is continuous. The best part about this demo is that you could do anything you want. For instance, you could play the crane minigame or go fishing. I chose to do neither. Everyone’s experiences differed based on what they wanted to do. I’m lucky; I’m an E3 veteran and I know how to play the lines, so I played three times. Freedom is what Link’s Awakening is all about, and the demo encapsulates this.

There was so much to take from a simple 15-minute demo. We haven’t even played the dungeon-maker mode, which promises to be a whole new Zelda experience. Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch is shaping up to be the surprise game of the year. It may not win any Game of the Year awards, but, It’s my most anticipated game of the year. It was by far the best game on the show floor at E3 this year, and I played roughly 25 games or so. Between Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild 2, it seems that Nintendo really wants to keep the Zelda momentum going.

Link’s Awakening is the perfect Zelda game to introduce to a brand new generation of fans. It will be adored by old and new. September 20 cannot come soon enough!

About The Author

Founder/Editor-in-Chief

Morgan Lewis is a Video Game Journalist and is the Founder, Owner, and Editor-in-Chief of VGCultureHQ. He has been writing about games for over five years and has written over 1,500 articles during that timespan. He first fell in love with gaming when he received A Link to the Past for Christmas when he was six and is the guywazeldatatt. He also loves anime and anything that has to do with gaming culture and Tetsuya Takahashi games. He is also a huge anime and Star Wars fan.

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