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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is out now for Nintendo Switch. Which is great news, obviously. Originally a Game Boy title, this compact but compelling adventure has been remade fantastically - and you can read our 9/10-scored review of the game here, and watch the review here.
There are, however, a few things you should know about Link's Awakening in advance of going into it - especially if you never played the original, be it via its 1993 release, its 1998 DX update, or the version that's on the 3DS Virtual Console. This is a Zelda game, for sure, but it's perhaps the weirdest of the whole series.
Link's Awakening doesn't feature many of the series' trademark recurring locations. There's no Death Mountain, no Zora's Domain, no Hyrule Castle. Heck, this isn't even Hyrule, at all - Link's Awakening is set on Koholint Island, a mysterious land full of talking animals, wisdom-preaching owl statues, health spa owners and not-so-wicked witches, and a gigantic egg on top of its tallest peak which, apparently, contains a sleeping deity known as the Wind Fish.
Koholint is also a place which really isn't all it seems to be, and as Link progresses he'll be warned of truly terrible consequences should he awaken the Wind Fish. Does he go on? Obviously, yes. But don't expect the island to be the same once his quest has ended.
And if you ever get lost on Koholint, don't worry. Head to a phone booth to receive a hint in the right direction.
Link's Awakening began life as an attempt to bring the Super Nintendo's A Link to the Past to the Game Boy - but the game soon took on a life of its own during late-night brainstorming sessions, and the freedom its developers enjoyed saw them sneak in a few, let's say, stowaways. In the Eagle's Tower, one of the game's later dungeons, Link will encounter an enemy that is, basically, Kirby. It'll try to inhale the adventurer, dealing him damage as a result. And it's not just Kirby who's been drafted in from other Nintendo series.
One of the first NPCs you meet in the game, Tarin, bears a striking resemblance to Mario, while another character in Tal Tal Heights looks just like Luigi. A Yoshi doll can be won at the Mabe Village Trendy Game, which starts the game-within-a-game that is Link's Awakening's trading sequence. The evil Wart, the main boss in Super Mario Bros. 2, shows up as the much friendlier Mabu, who'll sing you an important song for a fee. And a photograph of Princess Peach comprises part of the game's trading sequence, which you'll need to complete in order to get a very useful magnifying glass.
There are also Piranha Plants and Goombas, Shy Guys and Thwomps, so you can be forgiven for thinking you've been washed up on the shores of the Mushroom Kingdom.
This not being Hyrule, there's no Master Sword for Link to find. What there is, though, is the Seashell Sword, a powered-up version of the weapon he finds at the very start of the game (assuming you walk in the right direction - south, to the beach, to find it on the shore). The Seashell Sword is yours for taking a set number of Secret Seashells - which are hidden all around Koholint - to the Seashell Mansion, in the middle of the map.
Now, in the original game you needed 20 of these - but I've collected way more than that and still not unlocked the sword. So this is me assuming it's in the remake, because everything else is (Camera Shop aside). You will acquire a sensor to help you find them, which works in a similar way to the Korok Mask in Breath of the Wild, dinging when you're near one. Basically: grab as many as you can, head to the mansion, and fingers crossed you'll nab yourself an over-powered blade that can also shoot out a beam when Link's hearts are all full. Or, a spooky stone. Sure.
There's another super-powered weapon available, too - the boomerang. To get this, you'll need to complete the trading sequence and listen to what the once-invisible Zora tells you (told you the magnifying glass was important). That, and be prepared to part with something of your own. Nothing comes for free on Koholint Island.
Okay, some things come for free on Koholint Island. Rupees are buried everywhere, so as soon as you can afford one, buy a shovel and get digging. There are also times when you'll need to uncover Secret Seashells in this way, too. The shovel doesn't come cheap, but it pays for itself in no time.
It's also worth upgrading your inventory when you can - you'll find a Li'l Devil in three different (hidden) locations who'll zap you (it's okay, it's harmless), enabling Link to carry more arrows, bombs and magic powder. Pretty useful for later dungeons, lemme tell you.
Link used music to fast-travel in A Link to the Past, but back on the SNES his instrument of choice was a flute. It's in Link's Awakening that we first receive an Ocarina - some five years before Ocarina of Time - and it has three main uses. You'll need to have it handy when you meet Mabu, whose song will liven up any old pile of bones; and before that you can learn a song from a giant fish called Manbo that enables you to warp from anywhere to select locations on the map.
The Ocarina isn't one of the game's Eight Instruments of the Sirens, which are rewards for completing the dungeons, but is needed to play The Ballad of the Wind Fish - which, as the name implies, is kind of important for the end game. It can be found in the Dream Shrine, in the starting area of Mabe Village. You'll need a couple of bits of kit to get it, namely the Power Wrist and Pegasus Boots - but as soon as you're able, grab it.
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