[Preview] The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Written by Kieran Fifield
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: 20/09/2019
  • Price: $59.99 / £49.99

Link’s A-Shakening

The demo of the upcoming Legend of Zelda title, Link’s Awakening from E3 was riddled with technical issues that made playing the game less than enjoyable. With Gamescom 2019 taking place a meagre 4 weeks before the title is set to launch, surely this would be a more polished and technically adept, right?


Unfortunately, with just one lunar cycle remaining and seemingly the last real chance to show this game off, the build on the show floor remains the near on unplayable version doing the rounds, and having made it’s presence felt on the aforementioned E3 floors, at a resulting post E3 event in London and at Insomnia too, it remains somewhat disconcerting that this is the version of the game Nintendo are choosing to showcase, so close to the game’s red carpet.

Wake me up before you go-go

As alluded to, this is the same timed build that has been doing the rounds at previous gatherings of the great unwashed. As such you are thrown into the game from the very beginning and have 20 mins to play away to your heart’s content. I say content, it’s a gift and curse really as, although it’s a Zelda game and brimming with charm and personality, it suffers from some utterly abhorrent issues that at this stage of the game, really shouldn’t be present.

Just to put this all into some sort of perspective, I’d be very surprised if the game hasn’t been polished to the nth degree by now, and the demo is a result of indolence on the Big N’s part. I mean, why update the hundreds of Switch demo units that you’re lugging from event to event? Gamescom will only see a couple of hundred thousand people pass through it’s doors after all….

Unfortunately, stupidity begets stupidity and as such, the vicious cycle of laxity will likely continue as outlets forgive it’s shortcomings on account of it being ‘new Zelda’.

The good

Not to seem overly negative let’s start with the good. Link’s Awakening captures the spirit of the diorama in every way possible and brings it to life in a style that will likely be the blueprint for all future 2D Zelda remakes. I can easily see the Oracle games; as well as GOTY, every year – A Link to the Past, being brought to life with this engine. Who am I kidding, this is Nintendo, they’ll likely go in a whole new direction next time!

The models are all bewitching, with individual animations demonstrating Nintendo’s ability to capture the very essence of character. Even bushes sway in the wind, and in a vein similar to Breath of Wild – albeit on a much smaller scale, the environments emanate charisma. There’s a certain swagger to enemies too that further adds to the whole overarching sense of wonder.

The bad

Link’s Awakening is vibrant, vivacious and voluptuous in every sense of the word. This iteration of our timeless hero, whilst being ever so slightly round and seeming somewhat ‘off’, is ever so endearing. The game environments bustle with life and personality which regrettably, are all marred by a weird filter that Nintendo have adopted. I’m not entirely sure what the Apple gang would call it, but here on Android Island, we call it Live Focus, and it’s essentially a depth of field manipulator. Everything within Link’s circumference is sharp and focused whilst all remaining assets are blurred and softened. If anything, this really lends weight to the argument that this title was initially in development for 3DS, and ported to fill Nintendo’s need for an annual Zelda game. Maybe I’m off the mark, but it would make sense for weaker hardware to utilise this. On the Nintendo Switch however, it just feels unnecessary. This is after all the a console that runs Breath of th Wild with very little fuss.

The ugly

The demo on the showroom floor suffered from one of the most jarring frame rate issues that I’ve had mischance to experience. It really made my time on Koholint border on unplayable, let alone enjoyable, with screen tear prominent through out and a weird vibration effect occurring far to regularly for my already overtired mind to comprehend.

Final thoughts

Link’s Awakening is, in the state it was in at Gamescom, a beautiful yet hugely flawed re-imagining of a timeless classic. I’d be very surprised if the game hasn’t come along leaps and bounds since the time that this demo was conceptualised, however, it does beg the question, why not show off the latest build of the game, which in this case, would likely be the final product.

The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening oozes style and if the final version fixes all of the technical issues present in the demo build, we’ll all be singing from the rooftops once again come September 20th.

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