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Everything new in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Link's Awakening
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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch is a remake, but that doesn’t mean everything is the same on Koholint Island. Most glaringly, Nintendo significantly reimagined the graphical style. Along with the fresh presentation, Link’s Awakening has new mechanics, systems, and a bunch of quality of life improvements. If you’re curious about the changes, we’ve rounded up all of the new stuff for your perusal.

Spoiler warning: This post doesn’t dive into the story at all, but some of the new features may be considered spoilers.

More Heart Pieces

Link's Awakening
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Both Game Boy versions of Link’s Awakening had 12 Heart Pieces to find throughout Koholint Island. Link’s Awakening for Switch has a total of 32 Heart Pieces. Find them all and you’ll have 20 Heart Containers.

While you still get a full Heart Container for defeating dungeon bosses, you can also get a Heart Container by completing a series of challenges in Chamber Dungeons.

More Secret Seashells

Link's Awakening
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Like Heart Pieces, the Secret Seashell count has ballooned from 26 to 50. That means more rewards when turning them in at Seashell Mansion. Once you have 25 Secret Seashells, you can get the Seashell Sensor, which will beep when you’re near a seashell.

Most Secret Seashells need to be dug from the ground with the shovel, but there are some in trees, holes, under rocks, and in treasure chests.

Fairy Bottles

Link's Awakening
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Fairy Bottles are a Zelda staple, but they weren’t previously in Link’s Awakening. The Switch version remedies that, adding three Fairy Bottles to find across Koholint Island. That means you can store fairies found at Fairy Fountains and for defeating mini-bosses.

Inventory management

Link's Awakening
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Link’s Awakening was sort of a slog when it came to inventory on Game Boy. All of Link’s items, including the sword and shield, took up one of the two face button inventory slots.

Link’s Awakening for Switch has a much cleaner and better inventory system. There are still two inventory slots you can assign yourself, but many of the items are automatically equipped once you find them.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sword: Mapped to B
  • Shield: Mapped to R/ZR
  • Pegasus Boots: Mapped to L/ZL
  • Power Bracelet: No assigned button, just works
  • Flippers: No assigned button, just works

This leaves you with the Magic Rod, Shovel, Magic Powder, Roc’s Feather, Bombs, Hookshot, Ocarina, Bow, Boomerang, and Fairy Bottles to map to X and Y.

Map pins

Link's Awakening
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Nintendo brought over the map pin system from Breath of the Wild to Link’s Awakening on Switch. You can now mark up to 30 points of interest on the map with pins. The pins include treasure chests, hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs, circles, triangles, and squares.

Come up with your own system if you so choose, but the treasure chest pins naturally go well with chests, while hearts make sense to use for Heart Pieces.


Link's Awakening
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The combat system is generally the same, but there is one cool new wrinkle. Some Moblins and Sword Stalfos are shielded. To get a hit on them, you first have to parry their attacks with your shield to open them up for a strike.

More fast travel spots

Link's Awakening
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Nintendo upped the number of Warp Holes (fast travel spots) in Link’s Awakening for Switch. While we’re not positive that we’ve unearthed all of the spots, we have unlocked ten, which is significantly more than the four the original and Link’s Awakening DX had.

You can use the spots directly to fast travel or play Manbo’s Mambo on the Ocarina to jump to one of the spots. In earlier versions of Link’s Awakening, Manbo’s Mambo only let you go back to the beginning of a dungeon or to Manbo’s Pond.

New soundtrack

Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma plays in a Nintendo band called The Wind Wakers. Awesome, right? Well, the Wind Wakers worked on the soundtrack for Link’s Awakening.

A lot of the tunes are beautifully orchestrated, but some are still digital. It’s a great mix of old and new. We can confidently say it’s one of the best Zelda soundtracks ever composed.

Segmented screens are gone

Link's Awakening
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With the jump to the Switch hardware, Link’s Awakening‘s presentation was able to be reworked in a number of ways. Remember how the map was segmented into square screens, like most old school Zelda games?

That’s gone in Link’s Awakening for Switch. Each region of Koholint Island folds into the other, which creates a more open feel. When you go through doors, you’ll still see a brief black loading screen, but generally, it’s a lot more seamless than before.

Convenient saving

Link's Awakening
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Link’s Awakening on Game Boy had the same save system as the first Zelda game. You had to press start, select, A and B simultaneously to save. You also had the option to save when you died.

Now you can save through the pause menu anywhere in the overworld and pick up right where you left off. Beware: If you save in a dungeon, you’ll still start back at the entrance of the dungeon when you load your file.

Buy back item traded for boomerang

Link's Awakening
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After completing the Trading Sequence, you can grab the Magnifying Glass and finally see Goriya, the boomerang dealer, in the hidden cave on Toronbo Shores. Like the original, you can trade the Magic Rod, Hook Shot, Roc’s Feather, or Shovel for the Boomerang.

Unlike the original, you don’t have to keep trading back and forth when you need to use that traded item again. Instead, you can pay Goriya 300 Rupees for your item back, allowing you to have a full inventory at all times.

New Mario collectibles

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The original Link’s Awakening featured a Yoshi Doll that you could win in the Trendy Game crane game. But then you had to quickly give it away as part of the trading sequence. In the Switch version, the Yoshi Doll returns, but so do other Mario collectibles like a CiaoCiao Chain Chomp figure, Piranha Plant, Shy Guy, and Boo.

Once you win the Yoshi Doll, CiaoCiao will appear in Trendy Game. Each time you win a figure, you need to place it on its designated display stand in a Mabe Village residence. A new figure will appear. After scoring all of the figures, the owner of the store will give you a Chamber Stone and the permanently reduce the cost of the game to five rupees.

Swap between all three outfits

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Link’s Awakening DX introduced the Color Dungeon. The optional dungeon returns in Link’s Awakening on Switch. Once completed, you can pick between the red and blue mail. Red gives you extra attack power, while blue increases your defense.

You can go back through the Color Dungeon to swap out your armor at any time. Unlike DX, however, you can switch back to the green tunic if you want.

Seashell Sword is now the Koholint Sword

Link's Awakening
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This is a very minor change, but the upgraded sword has a new name. It’s still unlocked by depositing Secret Seashells at the Seashell Mansion, but it’s called the Koholint Sword rather than the Seashell Sword.

Chamber Dungeons

Link's Awakening
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This is the biggie. The Camera Shop from Link’s Awakening DX has been replaced by Dampé’s Shack. The recurring Zelda character best known for his appearance in Ocarina of Time hosts Chamber Dungeons, a Zelda Maker-lite of sorts.

In Chamber Dungeons, you use “Chamber Stones” earned through play, purchased from the shop in Mabe Village, or won in the crane game to create dungeons.

Essentially, you’re connecting rooms from the eight main dungeons to craft a mashup dungeon. Dampé has a series of guided challenges where you must build dungeons following a set of rules and then complete them.

Chamber Dungeons is optional, but you can get Heart Pieces, Secret Seashells, a Fairy Bottle, and even a Heart Container from working through his challenges.

You’ll also earn new pieces to place in your dungeons, some of which are unique to Chamber Dungeons mode. You can make your own dungeons outside Dampé’s challenges, too.

Zelda Amiibo unlock new Chamber Stones, and you can store dungeons you build on Amiibo. Your friends can tap the Amiibo on their Switch consoles to play your dungeons.

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Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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