Friday, March 11, 2022

Link’s Awakening is an onion. It’s got layers and might make you cry

 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild turned out household from folks who knew the series existed to fans of the franchise. And while the open sandbox of Breath of the Wild is unique in the series (so far), we decided to dabble and get the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening.

You know, the game is almost thirty years old. I’m going to spoil the big twist at some point in this blog entry. Consider yourself warned and you already know the twist anyway.

Instead of a seemingly endless world to explore, Link’s Awakening gives you a tight series of puzzle-filled dungeons. You know, the kind where you get a new ability in every dungeon and you need to use it to solve the dungeon. Zelda fans say it helped popularize this style of game play across the medium but I have no idea if that’s true. 

Video Games are kind of wide, spongy medium full of flamboyant statements. It’s hard to say what and how much anything is true. 

Zelda historians also say that Link’s Awakening was the first Zelda game that had a more detailed and nuanced plot beyond beat up bad guys and save the princess. And there is definitely some stuff going on behind swinging a sword.




You already know this. The island of Koholint (That’s in my spellcheck!? Seriously?) is a dream. Nothing is real and Link’s quest to awaken the Windfish will result in the whole place going away for good. And if that’s news to you, don’t ask me about Luke Skywalker’s dad.

Multiple sources have stated that Twin Peaks was a major influence on the game. And that doesn’t surprise me. Twin Peaks played a big role in me appreciating the works of David Lynch. (As opposed to Eraser Head which played a big role in me waking up screaming.) Awakening is surreal, funny and creepy at the same time.

There’s a lot of weird stuff on the island. You not only face conventional monsters but also encounter various Mario foes  and Kirby (who, to be fair, probably would want to devour Link and wear his soul as a skin) There is an acknowledgment to the players, if not witihin the text, that this is a video game.

The island, in addition to having more monsters than Keep on the Borderlands, is chock full of quirky NPCs. It feels like Lynch’s Wild at Heart was an influence as well Twin Peaks. 

Marin is the only NPC who is remotely fleshed out on the island. She also serves as the love interest and actually gives the story stakes. If Link wakes the Windfish so he can escape the island, she ceases to exist. 

I mean, it’s going to happen unless you turn off the game and never play it ever again. But it changes the nature of the narrative. It isn’t just beat up the big bad. It’s about ending the world to save yourself.

Link’s Awakening doesn’t actually give you a morally ambiguous choice since there isn’t actually a choice. But it does ask a morally ambiguous question.

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