There are some remasters that kick you straight in the feels, and that's exactly what Nintendo's chibi-esque reimagining of Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening has done to me. And I'm sure you can still see the little, tiny, elven-shoed footprint it's left behind in the process. Link's Awakening was an original Game Boy title, released over 25 years ago, and although I wasn't quite old enough to play it when it first game out, that hasn't stopped it - and the Game Boy itself I might add - becoming a formative title in my early years as a gamer. And I'm sure many Zelda fans would say the same.
So then, it's so wonderful to see the love and attention that's clearly lurking under every rock, bush and chest in this Nintendo Switch remaster. Anyone who played the original will know exactly what they're getting with Link's Awakening in terms of gameplay, but the fact it's coming to Switch with gloriously update graphics means a whole new generation can enjoy its joyfully story, away from Hyrule and Princess Zelda, especially as we all wait for more info on that newly announced Breath of the Wild sequel.
And what's more, they're going to experience with a brand new graphics style that seems to effortlessly fit with the themes and tone of the game itself. The remaster has adopted a tilt-shift camera angle, which really makes you feel like you're peering into a toy box version of Link's adventure. It's a playful take on the original, but I'm totally smitten with it. Nintendo has really leaned into the toy-like feel of the game too. The tops of trees and buildings have a glossy sheen to them that made me think of the Fisher Price Tiny Tots range, in all their chubby glory.
The section of the game I got to play was the very opening, where Link awakes in a strange house on Koholint Island, without his sword. Speaking to Marin and Tarin gets him back his shield, which handily has his name written on the back - which seems extra adorable with this new toy-like theme. As I totter through the village en route to retrieving my shield, it almost feels like coming home. The overworld is now a seamlessly scrolling experience, but the map is very much a like-for-like recreation. In a lovely touch though, moving into dungeons or other interior spaces reverts to the flick screen presentation from the original version.
As much there for old and new fans
Of course, if you haven't experienced Link's Awakening yet, you'll be pleased to hear that it's a more traditional Zelda experience. As you wash up on this strange land, you're tasked with finding the Wind Fish by a mysterious owl, but this fish actually spends most of the game hidden away inside an egg atop a volcano.
The combat is simple enough, with Link armed with a sword, and a shield that he can use to protect himself, and rebuff enemy attacks.There's plenty of puzzle solving in the dungeons though, so it's not all hacking and slashing, as you'd expect from a Zelda title. It does look like there are some new power-ups to be had too, including those that increase your attack, and defence, although I wasn't able to experience these during my E3 2019 preview.
There's also a brand new dungeon maker system coming to this Switch version of Link's Awakening. Again, it wasn't part of the E3 demo, but it looks like by placing dungeon tiles on a grid, you'll be able to make and explore your own custom dungeons. It's a wonderful addition, but for me above all else, it's fantastic that now more gamers than ever can experience the game, and join the discussions about the game's story and characters that have been raging for 20-odd years, especially about its existentialism. But, it's always struck me as one of the most light-hearted Zelda titles, which really befits this new graphical change.
Zelda: Link's Awakening is coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch on September 20, 2019.