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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Nintendo Switch, 2019)

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A surprise announcement from today's Nintendo Direct, the Game Boy classic, Link's Awakening, is getting an HD makeover!

Here's what Nintendo says about the game:
 

Quote

Originally released for the Game Boy™ system more than 25 years ago, one of the most beloved games in the Legend of Zelda series returns. In this modern re-imagining, players once again return to the mysterious island of Koholint to guide Link on a perilous adventure. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening arrives exclusively on Nintendo Switch in 2019.

Gotta be real, this is a game I didn't think Nintendo would be coming back to, ever. But I'm glad they are. It's really good from what I've heard, so I'll keep on the lookout for it!

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Call it petty if you want, but this is probably the quickest Nintendo have ever managed to get me insanely hyped, only to completely kill it in it's tracks ten seconds later.

That first cutscene looked absolutely beautiful. It showed a new anime style to the series that had only been represented in sprite work and still art in the past, and the prospect of seeing this Game Boy game completely remade from the ground up in that style? That is insane to me...

...and then it shows the gameplay and it looks like a horrible rip-off of Peanuts, and that killed it completely for me. It took what could've been a crisp remaster and made it look pretty bad, especially for a Zelda product on Switch.

And I'm not saying I need something realistic, or grainy, or what have you. I don't need something akin to BOTW, Twilight Princess, or even Hyrule Warriors, but in all honesty, I think Link Between Worlds' artstyle was the perfect kind of remaster of the original Zelda artstyle that had been represented in the NES/SNES/Game Boy titles, which just makes me all the more disappointed that they ditched that, or even a hypothetical hand-drawn 2D Zelda title for...this. 

I really hope Nintendo can prove me wrong and reignite my excitement, but right now, my hopes aren't incredibly high.

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I'm not really a fan of the art direction. It is not bad but looks kinda... hard to say. I do not want to say cheap, because it isn't, but at the same time, it also doesn't look that impressive. Especially for a big name series like Zelda. Maybe I'm just spoiled because I currently playing the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, which to this date is probably one of the best-looking cartoon game that exists, and I'm just way to use to see those graphics. 

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They seem to be going for an almost toy-like aesthetic, which is really strange. The music also has no energy to it in my opinion. The whole thing reminds me of Nintendo Land more than Zelda.

...I wonder if this is how people felt at the original Wind Waker reveal lol

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Link's Awakening is one of the first games I owned, and without wishing to be sentimental, I think it holds a special place in my heart.  I've always felt that the game's themes and story are inextricably linked to the abstract, washed-out visuals of the GameBoy Colour, and whenever the suggestion of remaking it has come up, I've never quite been able to suppress the qualm that maybe this is a game that shouldn't be remade, a game which is already more or less as perfect as it's ever going to be in the format of its original design.  So it's with a bittersweet pang in my heart that I look upon the trailer for New Zelda: Link's Crafted World and finally understand that I was right all along.

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 It's taking a chibi approach to emulate the original spritework. I think it's cute. 

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The music is the only thing I'm raising an eyebrow at. It looks great to me otherwise. I hope they aren't shy about adding content but I'm buying this anyway so yeah lol.


The official artwork is jawdropping at least.

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Also keep in mind that Link Between Worlds also received quite a bit of vitriol in its initial reveal partly because of ITS style (I remember a somewhat popular dig on it was calling it "New Legend of Zelda") and THAT game went on to universal acclaim, so it might not be best to judge a book by its cover this quickly.

Anyway, I actually started a playthrough of the original on the 3DS VC and, big shock, I got stuck and didn't know where to go next, so this remake is fortunate. (Funny how this is the second time this has happened to me. The first was with Samus Returns.) I'm notoriously slow with Zelda games, but I seem to blast through the 2D ones pretty quickly, so I'll probably get this for Christmas.

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I'll admit, when I was that opening and recognised Link, I was expecting a game that looked like Breath of the Wild. In hindsight, going in that direction would mean it doesn't play like Link's Awakening. I guess if they had Link in a different art style, it wouldn't look like Link's Awakening, either.

Guess I'm conflicted but I'll probably still end up getting it out of habit. ^^;

 

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I'm not really a big Zelda guy but the top down games have always peaked my interest so I'll keep an eye for it. I do really dig the art style tho but I can totally get where some folks are coming from especially after that anime opening.

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6 hours ago, Diogenes said:

Remember: everyone that complained about WW's look was dead fucking wrong.

I won't say the sudden change in style didn't catch me off guard, but I don't dislike it. It's cute, it's a pretty faithful updating of the original art, and I'm gonna take a guess and say it's a deliberate thematic choice and not just a bait and switch. The original game does something similar, rendering Link in the opening and ending in a different style from the rest of the game, even compared to the photos in the DX version.

Say what you will about how WW was met with a lot of criticism at the start, but personally I wasn't a fan of Zelda until somewhere between the release of TP and SS and focused mainly on handhelds to begin with, so I experienced most of the series out of order. WW's artstyle has still never sat right with me. I like most of the other offerings, everything from OoT/MM/TP to SS to BotW to ALBW.

This artstyle chosen for LA Switch bugs the hell out of me because it makes everything look like a toybox or almost stop-motion. Unlike ALBW which looked like an HD and 3D recreation of ALttP, this is sticking too closely to the GB's limits and has taken the game down a really cutesy route when it didn't feel like that before. There's so much ambiguity in GB sprites that I feel going for a straight remake kind of undermines what the original was trying for. I guess I'd really appreciate something not so obviously tile-based and chibi.

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31 minutes ago, StaticMania said:

It didn't? The photos in the DX version definitely made it seem that way...

The photos were, but not the bulk the game. I typically interpret older sprite-based games as intending to look like their promotional art or other in-game assets. This would have been the perfect chance to really push something more in line with the opening style. And even with that in mind, the photos didn't feel anywhere near as dead or toy-like as the game here looks. I wouldn't mind if I was looking at something that felt like the photos. But instead this feels like The Legend of Nintendo Land, and it's pretty yuck.

Game is gonna be solid though cause LA is a great game that only benefit from modern conveniences like more buttons and a better menu. I'll be playing it for sure.

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I'm very excited for this gameplay-wise, but yeah after the bait-and-switch of that animated opening, the in-game art is REALLY jarring for me.  Link's Awakening was the first "off-colour" Zelda (in the same way Majora's Mask would eventually become the most famous title for being) and I feel this art style is TOO toy-like and cartooney for that atmosphere.

I just hope the art style doesn't offset the more emotional/quiet points in the game, of which there were a surprising many.

On a lighter note though, the enemies based off other Nintendo characters were a little off-model in the original game.  Considering the Goombas and Chain Chomps are very on-model to their modern Mario designs in this trailer, I cannot wait to be fucked up by the game forcing me to kill on-model Kirbys later on in the game.

 

By the way, as a heads-up to anyone who never played the original, I recommend avoiding spoilers if you can!  These days this game's plot is considered fair game for how old it is, so if you have the opportunity to enjoy it for the very first time without knowing how it all plays out, I'd suggest savouring that opportunity.

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I do wish Link looked like a higher poly version of his ALBW design, but I'm OK with this.

I'm excited for this, but not crazily so. I'm simultaneously happy and disappointed that it's a remake. On one hand, I finally want to see a fully new 2D Zelda with a new world to explore, but on the other hand if it had been that, I'd have been more disappointed that I don't have a Switch and wouldn't be able to play it for a who knows how long lol

The animated opening was beautiful. Hopefully if we ever get a Zelda animated series it looks like that.

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I'd actually be a lot less suspicious of the graphical style if this were a new game rather than a remake.  I'm actually quite happy with Nintendo's more experimental tendencies with visual styles, but the toybox style they're going for here I think would fit more with something like Minish Cap, a game which I think never fully realised its gimmick's potential.  Link's Awakening is more of a lonely, melancholy experience, and I'm not at all sure that the style here is going to capture that.  As noted above, it looks like the spritework was interpreted literally, which was never the point; the beauty of abstract pixel renderings is that you can interpret them in any way you like, rather than the intention being for everyone to be seen as a bobblehead toy.

Maybe I'll come around.  I warmed up to A Link Between Worlds, too, despite never being happy with the fact that it made zero effort to disguise its origins as a LttP remake - though at least that did differentiate itself.  (Incidentally, the "New Legend of Zelda" jabs against ALBW were on the mark; the game's Iwata Asks confirms that they genuinely considered calling it that.)

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I'm really struggling to see the issue here with the art style.  Much as I adore the animated opening (god, I hope we get cutscenes like that...) I find the new look endearing.  Sure, we've seen Ninty make liberal use of cutesy aesthetics (Rainbow Curse, Woolly World, etc.), but it's not a problem for me.  I'm game for more.  Actually the announcement makes me ponder if we'll be seeing a Link to the Past remake some time in the near future.

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There was a period where Miyamoto repeatedly mentioned wanting to remake LttP using the 3D capabilities of the 3DS, and it's very obvious that they started making one but ended up turning it into ALBW instead - a game which is still indistinguishable from a LttP remake in quite a few areas.  As far as I'm concerned, that remake's already happened.

There was something completely unrelated to the graphics which I meant to bring up, though.  So far the game looks like a very literal remake of LA, right down to the original tile placement - but there are a couple of things which I part-wonder and part-hope will be changed:

Secret Seashells:

Spoiler

In the original, there were, unusually, quite a few more Secret Seashells than you actually needed to get the Seashell Sword.  I could see them refining it down to a set number.

Missable Content:

Spoiler

Quite a few of the photographs are missable - a bunch of Marin ones, the one in front of Kanalet Castle drawbridge...  I think you could rejig things so that you can go back and get these, but given that the photo mode was introduced I think for a GameBoy Printer accessorry, I wouldn't be surprised if they just cut it out entirely and replace it with something new or a screenshot mode or something.

There's also at least one, maybe more chests which you can only get with the Flying Rooster, which again you only have access to for a limited time.  I could see them either giving you free access to the Flying Rooster for the remainder of the game... or just cutting out the missable stuff, which wasn't even anything special.

Colour Dungeon:

Spoiler

The Colour Dungeon was basically just a bonus to show off the capabilities of the GBC, and the further you go from those origins the less relevant it looks.  I'd be happy if they replaced it with an entirely new bonus dungeon, though if it's the original or nothing then obviously I'd pick the original.

Cameos:

Spoiler

Well, Goombas and Bow-Wow the Chain Chomp are still in, at least, but what about Wart, Anti-Kirby, Prince Richard?  More to the point - could they end up adding more cameos?

 

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27 minutes ago, QuantumEdge said:

I'm really struggling to see the issue here with the art style.  Much as I adore the animated opening (god, I hope we get cutscenes like that...) I find the new look endearing.  Sure, we've seen Ninty make liberal use of cutesy aesthetics (Rainbow Curse, Woolly World, etc.), but it's not a problem for me.  I'm game for more.  Actually the announcement makes me ponder if we'll be seeing a Link to the Past remake some time in the near future.

It ultimately comes down to taste. You find it endearing, I think it looks lifeless and ugly. It's unique, yes, but I just don't like how it looks.

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I've actually been running more comparisons between the reveal trailer and the original game map, and the tile placement really is literally 1:1, even down to weird floor decorations and the seams between the original screens.  The dungeon screens have very obvious dark borders at the lateral edges, showing that the room proportions are the same even when it looks janky; I'm willing to bet that they're adapting the dungeons with a more stylised camera that does actually lock to the room you're in and obscures any rooms to the sides.  (The only differences i've found are a couple of places where lines of two trees are now three trees; so I figure they must've stretched the proportions in some less obvious way.)  It's actually really cool, almost like you're looking at the original game played with a free camera rather than the screen-locked one; and the wider screen actually means you can see between map cells which had no junctions in the original, like from the opening of the Mysterious Forest you can see the fishing pond in Mabe Village.  It would've been so easy for them to skimp on it and make different map areas not really part of a single connected overworld, but it's all joined up!  This is actually really helping to sell the game to me.

I wonder how they're handling the world map.  It's weird and archaic, but the tile-based world map, revealing itself one screen at a time, is a really important part of the game to me, as it does such a good job of displaying exactly how much of the island you've uncovered and where you've been.  Being able to see your route plotted out, or observing that there are odd islands of untravelled territory which you've looped around...  I hope it still does that.

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