Link's Awakening


The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is the fourth game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series, and it is the third game in the Decline of Hyrule and the Last Hero timeline, also known as the Downfall Timeline. It was released in Japan on June 6, 1993 for the Game Boy, with international releases later that year. Link’s Awakening was the only Zelda game released for the Game Boy.

Link’s Awakening DX, an updated version with new additions and a color-themed dungeon, was released for the Game Boy Color five years later. It is a popular game among fans and critics alike for its emotional story and sound gameplay. The original release sold 3.83 million copies while the later Game Boy Color version moved an additional 2.22 million.

Development and Release

Link’s Awakening began as a handheld port of the popular SNES title A Link to the Past, but evolved over the course of a year and a half of development into its own unique game. Programmer Kazuaki Morita first played with making a Zelda game for the Game Boy with the system’s early development kits. He was later brought onto the Link’s Awakening team, which included members of the A Link to the Past team and director Takashi Tezuka. Morita worked alongside writer Kensuke Tanabe on the script and setting under the instructions that the new game stayed away from the common Zelda elements like the Triforce myth, Princess Zelda, and Hyrule. Tanabe proposed the island and mountaintop egg setting, and Morita provided the dream idea and NPC interactions.

The American television series Twin Peaks–a supernatural, serial crime drama–served as inspiration for Link’s Awakening’s characters and small town feeling. The characters were meant to seem suspicious or odd alongside the game’s peculiar undercurrent. Leftover ideas from A Link to the Past also inspired the game. Tanabe’s idea of the world ending when an egg breaks upon a mountain was originally meant for the SNES title, and was finally implemented in Link’s Awakening.

While A Link to the Past aided Link’s Awakening’s development, the Game Boy title had plenty of influence on future titles such as Ocarina of Time. The fan favourite fishing minigames that appeared in later titles had their origin in Link’s Awakening, as well as trading sequences.

<img class=”alignright wp-image-989 size-thumbnail” src=”” alt=”Link’s Awakening Game Boy Camera” width=”150” height=”150” />To promote both Link’s Awakening in North America as well as the Game Boy’s battery life and portability, the Zelda Whistle Stop Tour crossed the country by train over three days. It allowed players to test the game against each other to see who could complete it the fastest. Both the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Printer were promoted with the game’s DX release, wherein a player could take screenshots at certain points and take them to an in-game camera shop to be viewed and printed.


<img class=”alignleft size-wcsmall wp-image-987” src=”” alt=”Link’s Awakening” />Link’s Awakening, like previous entries, offers a top-down perspective with the map and dungeons being traversed a square at a time. Items , equipment, and heart containers help Link to progress and survive while new items and abilities vary the gameplay from earlier titles. Secret Seashells, hidden throughout the world, can be collected to gain a more powerful weapon. Enemy drops such as the Guardian Acorn and the Piece of Power give Link a temporary boost in abilities. Dungeons in Link’s Awakening become increasingly larger and more difficult, and some feature side-scrolling sections similar to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

While in the overworld, Link encounters many enemies as well as various NPC’s. Several of the latter offer Link advice, items, or help him to progress in the game’s lengthy trading sequence. Items can be assigned to either the A or B Buttons–a first for the series–for the use in puzzles and vanquishing enemies.

Trivia and Facts

Link’s Awakening’s freeform development allowed for unrestrained contents. Thus, characters and elements from other Nintendo series such as Super Mario and Kirby appear in the game.

The game can be completed without using the Bow, however the optional Boomerang must be used if doing so.

Unique to Link’s Awakening a bonus post-credits scene will play if the player completes the game without dying, showing Marin having achieved her wish to become a seagull. The scene varies slightly between the two game versions.

The player can steal an item from the in-game shop by sneaking past the shopkeeper. However, the player’s name will change to THIEF for the rest of the game, and they will be kicked out of the shop if they try to enter it again.

Timeline Information

Link’s Awakening lies in the middle of the Downfall Timeline, at the end of a time known as the Era of Light and Dark. It picks up after the events of the Oracle games, and concludes the story of this particular incarnation of Hyrule’s hero, Link.

After defeating Ganon in A Link to the Past, Link travels away from Hyrule to take up more training. The Triforce guides him first to Holodrum and then Labrynna where he helps the oracles Din and Nayru, and brings peace to both worlds. With these deeds completed, Link sets sail to continue his training.

On the return trip to Hyrule, a storm sinks Link’s ship and leaves him to wash ashore on a strange island called Koholint. There, a girl named Marin rescues him and takes him to her home in Mabe Village.

<img class=”alignleft size-wcsmall wp-image-986” src=”” alt=”Wind Fish’s Egg” />After waking up, Link returns to the beach where he finds his sword amidst the remains of his wrecked ship. An owl flies down and greets him, and explains that Link will be able to leave the island only when the Wind Fish, who sleeps in a huge egg atop the island’s highest mountain, is woken up. The owl advises that Link seeks a key in the forest, and the hero follows the instructions to find the Tail Key. This key grants Link passage into Tail Cave where the nightmarish monster Moldorm resides.

Link defeats Moldorm and is rewarded with the Full Moon Cello, one of Eight Instruments of the Sirens needed to awaken the Wind Fish. The other seven instruments lay in seven other dungeons. Link solves puzzles and finds the items he needs to make his way through the dungeons and past their bosses. During his journey he gains an Ocarina from Mabe Village’s Dream Shrine, and learns that Marin’s beautiful singing could awaken any who hear her. Marin teaches Link the Ballad of the Wind Fish and reveals her wish to become a seagull so that she may spread her songs throughout the world.

Close to finding the sixth instrument, an inscription in the Southern Face Shrine reveals the unsettling truth of Koholint Island. The inscription shows images of a whale and owl, and reveals that Koholint is “…but an illusion… a scene on the lid of a sleeper’s eye…” It warns that waking the Wind Fish will lead to Koholint’s disappearance. Thinking on the friends he has made on Koholint, Link is unsure if he should continue. The owl advises him to trust his feelings, as no one knows if the inscription is true or not. Decided, Link continues on to find the remaining three instruments.

With the Eight Instruments of the Sirens in-hand, Link climbs to the giant egg and plays the Ballad of the Wind Fish on his Ocarina. The other instruments join in, and the egg cracks in response. Link enters the egg to find the Nightmare that has been behind all of the chaos on the island. During the battle, the Nightmare transforms; taking on shapes of Link’s past enemies in an attempt to defeat him. But Link is triumphant, and a staircase is opened to him upon the Nightmare’s destruction. He climbs it and comes to a room full of stars where the owl finds him.

<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-985” src=”” alt=”The Wind Fish” />The owl explains he is a part of the Wind Fish, and that it was his job to guard the Wind Fish’s dream world. But the Nightmares invaded the world and prevented the Wind Fish from waking. With them defeated and the instruments retrieved, the Wind Fish could finally awaken. The owl vanishes, and in its place the Wind Fish rises out of the starry darkness. It tells Link that all dreams must end, and that he should play the Ballad of the Wind Fish once more so that they could awaken together.

Link plays the song, and all of Koholint slowly vanishes with each note. At the song’s end, Link is driven out of the dream and awakes in the middle of the ocean. Koholint Island is no more, but the Wind Fish soars above through the clouds. Link is left with only the memory of the dream world.

While Link had once saved Hyrule and other lands, he realizes that he is ultimately the one responsible for Koholint Island’s destruction. He sets sail on a new voyage, never to return to Hyrule, leaving his whereabouts unknown. Hyrule falls into an era of decline during which no hero appears for many years. One eventually does, and Hyrule is saved from a returning evil, but it is unknown if the kingdom ever achieves prosperity once more at the timeline’s end.

This page was written by Alex Aul. Find them on Twitter and on deviantART.