Link's Awakening stands tall beside every one of the games released in the series

User Rating: 9 | Zelda no Densetsu: Yume o Miru Shima DX GBC
The Zelda series has always been known for the sheer size of its titles and bringing the series to a portable system for the first time ever was a huge challenge for everyone at Nintendo. The process of working with less hardware power and inferior storage space while trying to maintain the immersion of the series must have demanded a lot from its developers especially since the game would certainly be directly compared to the epic A Link to the Past released one year prior to Link's Awakening. Not surprisingly though the fourth adventure in the series lives up to the high standards and shows with every gameplay minute that it is entitled to the name "The Legend of Zelda".

Link's first handheld adventure begins after the events of A Link to the Past; having defeated evil once more he heads away from Hyrule in order to train and improve his combat skills. Unfortunately his journey is cut short when a major storm hits his small boat at sea, being unable to maintain control over the boat Link passes out and wakes up on the shores of Koholint Island. After being rescued and taken to the nearby small village Link learns that the only way to return home is to recover eight instruments and play them in front of a huge Egg located on the island that serves as the dreaming spot of the place's guardian, the mysterious Wind Fish.

Needless to say Link heads out on an adventure to gather all of the eight instruments and uncover the hidden secrets behind this rather odd island. The game doesn't take place at Hyrule, but like Princess Zelda's land the island features a wide array of scenarios including big lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, deserts, swamps and a few others. Despite being a handheld game the overworld is nearly as big and impressive as the one presented on A Link to the Past, filled with colors, life and fantastic characters.

As usual Link must explore the world by following clues from villagers or from a mysterious owl as he tries to find the dungeons where the instruments are located while collecting a vast array of different tools that will allow him to reach new areas within the gigantic island. All those tools, including your trusty sword and shield can be directly assigned to either the A or B button. Since only two buttons are available for all those items players will have to go through a constant switching that slightly breaks the pace of the game, however such a fact hardly makes the experience less enchanting.

All of the tools on Link's arsenal will be vastly and creatively used while venturing through the land but the real excitement is on the game's dungeons. Link's Awakening easily features some of Zelda's greatest and hardest 2-D dungeons ever. The quality of level design found inside the dungeons is absurd as players will certainly be mesmerized and highly satisfied as they find the solution to one of the dungeon's many outstanding puzzles.

Guarding each one of the instruments within each of the dungeons are massive bosses, called Nightmare within the game, that will challenge players and their ability to use the item encountered inside the respective dungeon. These creatures vary in size, species and difficulty but all of them share the very same quality: fighting and beating them is as fun as it can get when it comes to videogames. Besides, each dungeon also features a mini-boss that marks the halfway point of the insane puzzle-solving, just like its big brothers those foes have nice destructive attacks and are beautifully rendered by the game's graphical engine.
The bosses are not the only impressive technical aspect of the game. This deluxe version features colors that obviously improve on the original game's black-and-white visuals giving more life and personality to the lands and characters you will meet along the way. The game's tunes have a similar quality as they are certainly better than you expect from a Gameboy game. The few original tunes that appear on the game are great while the others are slightly different versions from the many already famous songs on the Zelda library.

In a nutshell, Link's Awakening is a delightful experience with long hours of gameplay and real challenge. The original charming characters and the life within Koholint just enhance the already very high value the package has. Completionists will have a blast as the game has some sidequests generally involving either rupees or beautiful heart pieces as a prize. Saying a Zelda game is great is an easy task while ranking it among its peers is a tough challenge, Link's Awakening stands tall beside each and every one of the games released in the series so far despite all the years that have passed since its release and it remains as the biggest achievement in the series.

Actual Score: 9.1