With great graphics, an amazing soundtrack, an interesting story and timless gameplay, LA is a true classic.
Graphics: The artistic design in Zelda is in full force here. Everything has a great 8 bit charm to it, and the occasional screen flicker is forgivable. The environments are varied and fun to look at and the bosses are very well animated and look good. If you've played either of the oracle games on the Game Boy Color, you know what to expect here, more or less. However, it's worth noting that there is a weird amount of references to other Nintendo games, namely Mario. There is an enemy that resembles a Goomba (if Goombas were pink), there's a dungeon where there are pipes with Piranha Plant look-alikes, and there are even two characters that resemble Mario and Luigi. (Plus, in one of the dungeons, there is an enemy that resembles Kirby.) All in all, this is a great looking game from yesteryear. 9/ 10
Sound: The game has some familiar 8 bit sound effects. The jumping, sword swinging, blocking… most of the effects are very similar to the Oracle games. So, it sounds good. Where the game stands apart from the rest of the series, though, is the soundtrack. There are a ton of great and catchy tunes, and at least one of them will get stuck in your head. (That's not a threat, it's a promise.) There is just a huge variety of tracks, and they are all awesome. (Aside from the vanilla cave theme.) One of my favorites is in Tal Tal heights. It just sounds epic, amazing, and you will want to sit there and listen to it. Another honorable mention is the Animal Village track. Seriously, do yourself a favor and YouTube those songs. 10/ 10
Story: This game actually has one of the most interesting stories of any Zelda game. Link is sailing, looking for adventure, when his boat is struck by lightning. He falls unconscious, and awakens later on the shore of an island called Koholint. He is greeted by a girl named Marin, who vaguely resembles princess Zelda. He is told by a mysterious Owl that he must awaken the Wind Fish, who sleeps atop Mt. Tamaranch, by finding the 8 Siren Instruments. The story itself is quite basic, but, after seeing the ending, you'll see how deep it really is; it's open to multiple interpretations, and even has some philosophy worked into it, if you look hard enough. All in all, this game has one of the better stories of the series, despite the "kiddy" presentation. The ending, while not only interesting, is quite sad and emotional as well. 9/ 10
Gameplay: No matter how good the story, graphics or music are for a Zelda game, this is the real reason you should play one of these revered games. The gameplay.
This game sticks close to the formula that the early games were based off of. Travel around a decently sized world, looking for hidden caves and items and such, while going through dungeons on a quest to find 8 somethings. While this game doesn't do anything radically new, it is still very polished and fun.
For one, there are many interesting locales to go to, from a Graveyard to a village that consists entirely of animals. This game holds up the classic exploration the series is known for; there are many different secrets to find, caves to explore and items to collect. There is also a good amount of sidequests to do in this game, with the main one being the Color Dungeon. This was a bonus way back when for people who bought the game on Game Boy Color. All it is is a short mini dungeon that relies on color for the challenges. It's not too hard, but the reward is well worth it; obviously, I won't spoil anything, but let's just say it could potentially help with getting the "secret" ending. (beat the game without dying.)
But how are the dungeons themselves? The early ones aren't too challenging, but they get steadily tougher. The last few ones require a lot of memorization and have some tricky puzzles. I got stumped more than once on my recent replay through the game. And at the end of each one is a boss to fight; unfortunately, the bosses in this game are pretty easy. If you've played any Zelda game, especially the 2d ones, you likely won't be too challenged by any of them. But, the bosses leading up to them are usually tough, so it balances out.
Between dungeons, you will have to do some sort of quest in order to reach the next one. These usually require exploration, so they are welcome. However, there are some that require too much running around for my taste. But, even those aren't too bad. However, there is an annoyance that rears its ugly head throughout the game. The dungeons and overworld are designed to take advantage of all of the items in your inventory. While I'm all for that, you will rarely reach a game screen where you don't have to pause and swap out one item for another. This isn't necessarily the game's fault, and more of the system's, but it is annoying nonetheless.
Despite these complaints, Link's Awakening is a great handheld Zelda. 9/ 10
I can't tell you enough to play this game; great, nostalgic 8 bit graphics, an amazing soundtrack, a cool story, and timeless gameplay really makes this game a true classic. There are some noticeably dated features, like having to switch out tools every 30 seconds, but the game is good enough to more than make up for this. With the 3DS in its baby stage, the Gameboy Virtual console is coming soon. I recommend you get this game as soon as it's available, or get it if you know a place that sells old games. So long, thanks for reading, and keep exploring!