Nintendo achieves greatness releasing its first Game Boy Colour on the 3ds e-Shop
Around 20 years ago, Nintendo was issued a heavy challenge. The third game in the Zelda series, A Link to the Past – for the SNES – had been received incredibly well, but could Nintendo replicate this on their next generation of console, the Game Boy. Could they reproduce this success on the on the much less powerful 16 bit console? The designers took this challenge and created a masterpiece. This was the fourth Legend of Zelda adventure and the first made for a portable system.
Five years after the release Nintendo decided to revisit the game, adding new content, a new challenging dungeon and a much needed splash of colour. This game was re-released with the title, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX for the Game Boy Colour. Link’s Awakening has now been re-released for the second time helping on the new Nintendo 3DS, helping to kick off a brave new era of digital downloading for Nintendo.
There has been some new presentation upgrades for the 3DS such as two different display options. By default the 3DS expands the lower Game Boy Colour resolution to near enough fit the large top screen. This makes the resolution rather blurry, since the ratio isn’t a match for what the original game was working with. It does work well and is by no means unplayable, but it doesn’t look that sharp and doesn’t do the game justice.
The second display option is a stroke of genius from Nintendo. By pressing Start and Select when the game is loading, it renders the game in the original 160 x 144 pixel resolution, leading to a much cleaner and sharper look. The game is boarded by a on screen Game Boy Colour that looks very slick and well designed. However, this is tiny compared to the 3DS top screen, so it could cause some eyestrain over time.
The development team that designed the 3Ds port of the game added a few nice little touches such as a battery light on the side of the Game Boy Colour unit on the 3DS top screen. Also you can push the 3D slider up to add a small depth effect where the game slightly lowers. This is a very nice little effect that the team put in, it will also be usable with all Game Boy Colour games on the 3DS.
The Game Boy didn’t have the most impressive horsepower, even at the time, but apparently nobody told Nintendo, because it still stands out as one of the best-looking games the company has ever made from an artistic standpoint. The game’s sprite work is still charming enough to bring a smile to your face, and the level of detail and expression in these little characters is only outdone by the surprising size of the over world.
It’s a decidedly different approach to the typical Zelda “unassuming boy from a small town becomes a noble hero and saves the world” story, and even though it’s still structurally very similar to other titles in the series — you still tackle dungeons, acquire new items and engage in a variety of side quests — The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX’s combination of enigma and charm still make it stand out as one of the best Zelda titles to date. This Zelda stands out as one of the most light-hearted and whimsical Zeldas in the series, thanks in no small part to its timelessly charming presentation.
It may be called Koholint Island, but don’t think that means that it’s the size of one of Wind Waker’s or Phantom Hourglass’s little patches of land — this is a big game, whose over world rivals the size of A Link to the Past and almost surpasses it in terms of density. Not a single screen of Koholint Island has been underutilised, meaning it’s absolutely packed with enemies, secret passageways, characters to interact with and new upgrades to find. You could blast through the main adventure in six or seven hours if you’re a Zelda vet, but if you take time to explore the island and find all the Secret Seashells (collect them all and “something good is bound to happen!”) it’s not a stretch to say you’ve got over 20 hours worth of content, here. Not too shabby for a £5.40 downloadable game that came out almost two decades ago.
And although the game certainly didn’t need any tweaking, it actually ends up playing even better on the 3DS. The Circle Pad makes controlling Link much more fluid, for one thing, and the game benefits greatly from Restore Points, which allow you to pick up and play directly from where you left off (although if your system is still experiencing frequent black-screen error messages, you might want to stick with regular saves as these crashes can corrupt your data). If you see a part of the map that you can’t access yet but you want to remember later, you can tap the Home button and make a quick note of it using the 3DS’ “Game Notes” option on the system’s top menu; and if you get really stuck, you can hop on the Internet browser and look up a strategy guide without ever losing your progress, although just know that if you do use a guide, you’re a cheater and we’ll think less of you.
And, unfortunately, there has been at least one sacrifice made in bringing the game into the eShop — the Game Boy Printer functionality. This was such a niche feature that it’s unlikely it’ll be missed by anyone, but it’s still worth noting. The original cartridge version of Link’s Awakening DX could hook up to the old Game Boy Printer peripheral to print out comical images of Link that you collect throughout the quest. When you reach those same points in this version, the “Print” option will still appear on-screen — it just won’t do anything. Nintendo could have invested just a bit more effort to creatively address that issue, perhaps letting players save those photos to the 3DS SD Card when those moments came along — but, alas, there’s no solution. So it’s a minor issue, but it is an issue.
This is one of the most beautiful and well crafted games in the series. It marked a milestone in portable gaming at the time, and even if it does not do that now the game is still brilliant and cannot be recommended enough. If you have never played Link’s Awakening before then now is a better time than any and for 20 hours of gameplay the £5.40 price tag seems like a right bargain! The original Link’s Awakening for Game Boy was a masterpiece, DX made it better, and now the eShop has improved it even further. Perfection a game that needs to be downloaded!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.