March 15, 2019
Assuming you don’t live under a rock, I am guessing you have heard the good news that Link’s Awakening is getting a remake for Nintendo Switch. In fact, I know some guys who live under rocks and they even know about it, and coupling that with the fact that you are currently reading a feature written for a Zelda fan site, you have no excuse! Assuming you have seen the trailer, you no doubt noticed several small changes to the graphic style, interface, and other elements. I know I did, which got me thinking what changes I would like to see, as this is one of my all-time favorite games, and I would personally argue that it doesn’t need any changes to be playable and fun, however I can concede that some quality of life improvements could be made to make it a little easier for new players, and a little smoother for us veterans. These are my ideas for changes that should be made, and my reasoning for them. It’s not a huge list, since the base game is incredible at its core, but I think these little things could go a long way to modernizing the experience.
More Mappable Buttons
Many of the key mechanics in the Zelda series are built around item use, and Link’s Awakening is no exception. In fact, it gave you a lot more options than the first three games, allowing you to equip two items at once to use with the A and B buttons. The only small downside to this was that occasionally when you wanted to use two particular items, you had to go without your sword or shield. This was okay to work around, since you could fairly easily switch out your items at any time, however modern gamers would find this tedious, and as long as the Switch controllers have more buttons than the original Game Boy, honestly there’s not any good reason to avoid using them.
If I had my way, we would be able to program the face buttons as well as shoulder buttons all individually, so as not only to cater to any player’s style, but also to give a plethora of combat options at any time once you have several items. I believe the sword and shield may be bound to the A and B buttons, or something along those lines, but even so, you should theoretically be able to equip the X, Y, L, and R buttons with other items to go along with that. This way, you could sprint with the Pegasus Boots at any time, while still having your trusty boomerang equipped, and your bombs and arrows, which this game allowed you to use together for the first time in the series. This gives a fantastic level of customization and streamlines gameplay by removing the need to enter the menu after every other room.
Okay, now this is an odd choice, but hear me out. I don’t think multiplayer needs to be implemented to make the game better, but it would certainly bring something to the table which would not otherwise be there. I imagine a drop-in, drop-out mechanic similar to that of the Pokemon: Let’s Go games. Being stuck in a room with an odd puzzle, you could call over a buddy to help you out, and then take on the boss together! This simple addition could bring a new dimension to a classic that could heighten the experience by just a smidge, but for those who would take advantage of this, it would be truly special.
The biggest reason I want this feature, personally, is that this will be the first Zelda game my son will be able to really play, and so his memories of the series for the rest of his life will likely stem from his experiences therein. If I can share any amount of that experience, it will make this game even more memorable to me, as our first major Zelda undertaking will be the same game, just twenty-five years later. This is a small, non-essential feature that most fans would probably not utilize all that much, but to me personally, it would mean everything in the world.
Second Stick Camera Controls
This might seem like another off-the-wall choice; why would you need to control the camera in a top-down game? Actually, I think one of the coolest features in the interface of Tri Force Heroes was just that. On the New 3DS XL system, the C-stick had an additional functionality where you could scroll the camera around yourself to look a little further up the path, examine your environment to get a better idea of how to solve whatever puzzle you were currently considering, or just get a better view of the world and see all the little details the designers packed in there. This camera scrolling ability would lend itself quite well to Link’s Awakening, especially when traversing the now fluidly flowing overworld. I have no idea if this is even a thing the team considered, but I want to see it.
Fully Animated Cutscenes
The only thoughts in my mind when watching the opening of one of my favorite games updated from 8-bit to a fully realized anime cutscene were thoughts of pure amazement, ecstasy, wonder, delight, and six to ten other synonymous feelings. After the shift to the top-down style of the gameplay, I was honestly shocked at the difference, at first not totally sold, but I warmed up to it after watching the trailer a few more times. Still, the incredible animation quality of the opening cinematic is something that would be squandered if the team only made this one scene.
I would love very few things more than to see the game’s other scenes in this style. There are so many times in the game where it could add so much to utilize this, adding to the story presentation and breaking up the normal gameplay. The initial scene where Link wakes up in Marin’s house, the iconic beach scene, and even Link’s discovery of the mural revealing the entire island is only the dream of the Wind Fish or his conversation with the Nightmare, revealing the consequences of awakening the dreamer… Every key scene in the game would look great in this art style, and it would leave much more impact on the player than a simple text box underneath a couple of toy-like sprites meandering around the screen.
So that’s about it. I don’t think any of these things are necessary for the remake to be incredible, but I would love to see any if not all of these elements utilized in some capacity. What do you think, though? Do I just want animated cutscenes to feed my Marin fanboyism? Is multiplayer going too far? By all means, leave us a comment below or shoot us a Twitter or a message on our Discord server, and we’ll be sure to keep the conversation falling!