The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is endearing and wonderfully weird

the legend of zelda links awakening e3 2019 hands on  link s

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was my first Zelda game. I remember Koholint Island as a weird and wonderful place populated by familiar faces from other Nintendo franchises. I instantly fell in love with the series.

There was one problem, though. My preowned cartridge’s battery died soon thereafter. So as a young boy eating up too many AA batteries, I played the opening hours a lot. I didn’t beat the game at the time because of this inconvenience, but I later rectified that childhood travesty on Nintendo 3DS with Link’s Awakening DX. Given my history with Link’s Awakening, it’s fitting that my 20-minute E3 2019 hands-on demo with the Nintendo Switch remake started from the very beginning.

You probably already know this, but Link’s Awakening is visually marvelous on Switch. Link’s adorable design resembles a toy doll, and the world is bright, colorful, and inviting. The isometric camera perspective is close-in, so you can take in the charming sights of Koholint Island.

Sadly, the fresh art style was undercut by performance issues. I only had the chance to play in console mode, but the framerate — especially when faced with enemies — frequently dipped. The stuttering animations made Link’s movements look robotic at times. Performance miscues didn’t ruin my experience, but let’s hope Nintendo is able to make Link’s Awakening run smoother for the September launch.

Get weird, Nintendo

As an authentic remake, Link’s Awakening‘s gameplay may feel jarring to those used to modern Zelda games. The tried and true dungeon loop featured in nearly every Zelda game pre-Breath of the Wild is here, but it’s much less guided than recent top-down Zelda games. It’s a bizarre game — weird Nintendo at its finest.

the legend of zelda links awakening e3 2019 hands on link s 3

After grabbing your sword at the beach, you have to head to the Mysterious Forest to speak with a raccoon about a mushroom. Without previous knowledge, it might take some time to know where to go. Once you locate the patch, it’s you’ll meet up with a witch. She brews the mushroom in her cauldron and hands over the concoction: Magic Powder. Throwing a handful of the Magic Powder at the raccoon turns him back into a man. Why? Who knows.

This weirdness is why I’ve loved Link’s Awakening for two-plus decades. At face value, the moving parts are disjointed, but they inexplicably come together.

Outside of framerate issues, the combat was fun. Nintendo smartly mapped the shield to the right trigger, which frees you up to equip two items to the face buttons. Deflecting javelin throws from Moblins and slashing them with my sword in the Mysterious Forest felt great.

Though I didn’t go beyond the start of the first dungeon, Link’s Awakening is a nearly 1:1 remake. As such, you’ll likely happen upon lots of dead ends. Paths are blocked all over Koholint Island. Sometimes it’s boulders that need to be lifted with the Power Bracelet, other times it’s holes that need to be leaped over with Roc’s Feather (neither of which I acquired during the demo). Narrow pathways can be easily overlooked, so you have to pay close attention to your surroundings.

the legend of zelda links awakening e3 2019 hands on link s 2

The map might be your best friend, and keep you from walking in circles. The remake lets you mark heart pieces on the map so you can easily find your way back later on after securing whatever item you needed.

I stumbled across a new house in the remake that seems to track and hold collectables hailing from Super Mario Bros. (like Shy Guy and Boo). If anything, Nintendo has leaned more into Link’s Awakening’s wacky crossover elements with the remake.

Link’s Awakening will even have a dungeon building tool called Chamber Dungeons. Level tiles from completed dungeons can be found throughout Koholint Island. If you bring the pieces to the gravedigger Dampé, you can create a mix and match dungeon to run through for rewards. Dampé hails from Ocarina of Time, so it’s odd to see him here. His presence makes me wonder if anyone else will appear.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening launches September 20 on Nintendo Switch. The endearing art style feels like a perfect fit for Koholint Island. I wouldn’t worry much at all about the performance issues in the E3 demo. There’s a better chance of Super Mario Bros. releasing on PlayStation 4 than Link’s Awakening not living up to Nintendo’s rigorous standards.

Gaming

Cadence of Hyrule is the first truly amazing Zelda spinoff

Cadence of Hyrule is the first non-mainline Zelda game to capture the magic of the series. Blending catchy rhythm mechanics with top-down Zelda exploration, Brace Yourself Games has created one of the best games of 2019.
Gaming

The best Nintendo Switch games, from Breath of the Wild to Rocket League

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

New Nintendo Switch models are reportedly already in production and coming soon

The rumored two new Nintendo Switch models have already reportedly entered production. Some of the components were moved out of China and into Southeast Asia, as Nintendo looks to limit the impact of proposed tariffs.
Gaming

Digital Trends Best of E3 2019 Award Winners

At E3 2019, publishers like Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Bethesda showed off their current and future lineup of games. There was much to be excited for, but there were some gems that stole the show. At Digital Trends, we…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Put down the controller and pick up the best phones for gaming on the go

Which phones are the best if all you want to do is play some mobile games? We've done the hard work and put together a list of the best gaming phones on Android and iOS, so you can keep playing and winning.
Gaming

Square Enix has no clue how many episodes Final Fantasy VII Remake will take

The initial release of the Final Fantasy VII Remake on March 3, 2020 will feature the part of the adventure that takes place in Midgar. Square Enix has no idea on how many episodes it will take to tell the full story of the original RPG.
Gaming

Nintendo 3DS nowhere to be seen at E3 2019, but apparently not yet dead

The Nintendo 3DS was missing at E3 2019, but it appears that support for the console will continue. No first-party games are planned for the device, but it offers a collection of titles that may still attract both old and new players.
Gaming

Microsoft reportedly wanted Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PlayStation 4

Microsoft reportedly considered launching Halo: The Master Chief Collection on the PlayStation 4 a few years ago. It remains unclear if the desire for the Halo series to make a platform jump is still there ahead of Halo Infinite.
Computing

Why OLED gaming monitors may be further from reality than we thought

Earlier this year, Dell showed us the promise of an exciting new future for gaming monitors with the reveal of the Alienware 55-inch OLED gaming display. We loved it. But according to new reports, it may never see the light of day.
Deals

Walmart cuts $300 off Dell Inspiron 5680 gaming desktop for gamers on a budget

If you're stashing money but want an upgradeable rig that will go a long way, then this solid deal on the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop 5680 with Intel Core i5-8400 is for you. It is now available for only $700 at Walmart.
Deals

Walmart drops sweet $20 discount on the Sony PS4 DualShock 4 Controller

Walmart is offering a $20 discount on the Sony PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 Controller. New features include the touchpad, speaker, and light bar. It's also compatible with Windows-based PCs. This controller was originally priced at $60, but…
Deals

Check out Walmart’s steep discounts on Dell and LG gaming monitors

If you're a gamer looking for high-quality computer displays, you definitely need to take advantage of this deals from Dell and LG. These gaming monitors will fit your budget and your GPU.
Gaming

PS5 rumored to be more powerful than Xbox’s Project Scarlett

A rumor claiming that the PlayStation 5 will be more powerful than Xbox's Project Scarlett surfaced before the official reveal at the Xbox E3 2019 briefing. Now that we have more information, let's compare the two systems.