I've heard very good things about Dreams
. Not my sort of game, which eases the pain of it being unavailable to me.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
As a history piece this game is more interesting than most to me. I've played Link to the Past
and I've played Ocarina of Time
, and this feels a lot like a 'missing link' (stop it). It's transparently from similar minds to LttP, in dungeon and overworld design; but the DNA of OoT is visible in the increased characterisation and the dungeon structure (get item halfway through, use to progress, defeat boss with). That does mean that, as a game looked at in the light of today, and to someone who loved OoT but only tolerated LttP because he was young and had a guide, it fits in between the two quality-wise.
I'm not quite as damning about the game's structure as Cappa
, but the dungeons are really hit-and-miss. The last four take this almost literally (miss-hit-miss-hit), and it's not like the hits are great: they're bearable, but weaker than almost all the dungeons in following Zelda games. The bosses are on the mediocre side as well, especially once you've unlocked the Colour Dungeon and picked the Red Mail: they fall apart quicker than Boris Johnson's statements under scrutiny. In fact, that last half of the game is decidedly weaker than the first: there's minimal character interaction, weak dungeons, limited challenge, and the new parts of the overworld you explore are a bit dull. Add the game's love of putting up one-way trips and making you backtrack a lot
if you've made a mistake in taking them, and the actual gameplay side of things is... well, hit-and-miss.
The game saves itself on its aesthetics and, in its first half, the characters. The parody nature of the Nintendo expies is nice, but it's people like Marin (who is an utter sweetie) and the ghost and the animals who make that first half so much better than the second. Mostly Marin though. They're helped in this regard by the lovely animation on the toy-like bodies. I don't need to tell you how gorgeous this game is, right? It might be the second-best-looking game on the machine after BotW, frame rate stutters notwithstanding, and that lends a real sense of atmosphere to Koholint that it wouldn't otherwise have. There's also the anime-ish cut-scene at the beginning. In addition, the animation did a lot to make me go a bit dewy-eyed at the ending, even though I knew exactly what was coming.
It's the aesthetics lifting the game from mediocrity to merely being mediocre for the series that make me strongly believe that I'd have resented this game if I'd tried to play it on the Game Boy. It's the game being mediocre for the series despite the aesthetics that has made me think I don't want any more remasters from that era.