Link's Awakening Remake - A Good $40 Game by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web

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Link's Awakening Remake - A Good $40 Game
Link's Awakening Remake - A Good $40 Game by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web
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9/30/2019
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Right off the bat, yes, I'm saying it right now; The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Remake for Nintendo Switch would have been a good $40 game, but it is NOT good enough to justify the $60 price tag. It is selling well, it will continue to sell well, and it is being reviewed extremely positively. But that is only for two specific reasons:

A) Zelda (by Nintendo), and B) Nostalgia.

If it weren't for those two things specifically, it would not be getting praised so massively and it would not be selling this well. This is of course just my opinion, but it is an opinion I will hold to the grave. I am a massive, massive fan of the Zelda franchise, but the way I see it, any Nintendo developed/produced/published Zelda game is automatically inflated in terms of its quality to the point that I'd bet that they all start off at 200% and would take an insane amount of garbage to drop it bellow the 100% mark (in terms of scoring).

If Nintendo had developed the Phillips CD-i games, AS is, they would probably still be seen as masterpieces by the fandom. That is, at least mostly, hyperbole (I think).

So now that I've pissed off pretty much every single Zelda fan out there, please allow me to explain why this game is not worth its $60 price tag, IN MY OPINION.

(Wait, one more to make sure I've fully fueled the outrage: Breath of the Wild is NOT a perfect game and did not deserve any score higher than 7 [maybe 8] out of 10. There, moving on.)

First and foremost, this is a remake of a GameBoy game that still ultimately feels like a GameBoy game. The developers did make many 'Quality of Life' improvements that are extremely welcomed, but most of the gameplay still feels very cramped and limited (I'm pretty sure 'Cramped and Limited' was the official tagline for the GameBoy, right?). Dungeons, for example, just feel like you have no space to move around, and movement itself is kind of blockish (I don't know exactly what that means, but it just feels like the best word to describe movement in this game).

I never really cared for the GameBoy in the first place. I never owned one (during its lifecycle), but I knew many who did. I had quite a bit of hands on experience with the system, and that hands on time was exactly why I never owned one. I know that the GameBoy was a massive step forward in portable gaming (previous examples of portable gaming being game watches and Tiger Electronics styled games), but for me personally it was a massive step back in terms of gaming itself. The significant leap forward that the NES made from the Atari 2600 was so huge that gaming felt completely new and fresh, but GameBoy games felt dated even when they were brand new.

To me personally, the idea of taking a GameBoy game and modernizing it sounds amazing! Take a game that was extremely limited due to its hardware and expand it, make it feel and play better! Sadly, in my opinion, this is not quite what happened here.

Second, this is an extremely small game. It's massively short, the world map is tiny and most of the dungeons are, well, short (I'm sorry, there is no other word to use). I don't know exactly how long it took me to beat this (the Switch is still only telling me how long ago I first played it) but I know that I did not put that much time into it before finishing it. I swapped a lot between this and Untitled Goose Game, and to be honest, I think I've spent more time in that game than this one (mostly because even after finishing everything it's still a lot of fun to go around and mess with people).

Third (and I do hate making comparisons of other games and developers, but its hard not to in this case), look at what Toys For Bob (and others I believe) did; they remade TWO different PS1 era trilogies and sold those TRILOGIES for $40 each! I was never a fan of the Crash Bandicoot series, but I was absolutely a fan of Spyro. The original Spyro The Dragon game alone would have been worth $40, especially with how beautiful they made that game, but to get all 3 original fully robust games (remade) for $40? When you have that next to a teeny tiny GameBoy game that is charging $60, its hard for me not to feel like someone (*cough*Nintendo*cough*) is being awfully greedy.

"Then why did you buy it" you may ask? Well, it is a 2D Zelda game I never got to play before, and I LOVE 2D Zelda games; there aren't enough of them! And it is a good game; it's just not a $60 game in any way, shape or form in my opinion. There is nothing about this that justifies the price for me.

Link's Awakening really is just so short of a game that I really don't feel like I got my moneys worth at all. I have no real desire to replay it, at least not at the moment, and as good as it was, it wasn't great (which most 2D Zelda games are). It probably doesn't help that I had just finished playing through A Link To The Past right before this game came out, thanks to the recently added SNES games to the Nintendo Online Service, but that is kind of part of the problem isn't it? The (older) SNES game really does shine brighter than the GameBoy entry, even when the GameBoy game was rebuilt in full with shiny new graphics and seriously better system specs.

Now, let me be clear about something here; in terms of how the remake holds up as a remake, it is impressive. As far as I can see, it takes the original and only slightly modifies it, with some quality updates while leaving the base game (and spirit) in tact. It just isn't a full blown, modern $60 game in my opinion.

A few last things I want to mention before I end this:

I don't like the art style. I didn't like it when the game was revealed, and I never warmed up to them while playing. I don't really care for the plastic-ey feel or the cutesiness; though I also hate those 'Funko-Pop' things as well so my dislike of this art style really is just par for the course. But it does seem weird to me because the story is at least a little deeper than the art style represents. However, I can also honestly say that the art style never tainted my actual gameplay experience; I've never really cared that much about graphics or art style as long as the gameplay is fun.

With that said, it is unfortunate in my opinion that they went with such a plastic looking art style when the game has intro and ending cut scenes with a gorgeous animation style! And to me at least, the animated art style and the gameplay art style are not even remotely similar.

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In my personal opinion, those two art styles kind of clash with each other and it seems very unfortunate (to me) that an art style for the game itself couldn't have better matched the animation style. To me, it feels like the images above came from two different games, not the same one.

Another aspect of the graphics that kind of bothers me, which is part of the art style (sort of) but not in terms of design choices is this weird blurry effect around the top and bottom; the middle of the screen is the focal point of the game so it is clear, while the upper and lower parts are sort of blurry. The blurry/hazy aspect doesn't really feel very good to my eyes.

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Finally, there is a new to this remake feature in the form of a 'Dungeon Arranger' (not to be confused with an actual Dungeon Maker which would have been way cooler). Basically, you get tiles that are each a room from a previous dungeon (whether or not you get access to every room from every dungeon I do not know) and you can place them in various arrangements to make your own dungeon layout. The concept is interesting, and could have been fun, but the execution of it fails in my opinion.

For starters, the process itself is tedious. You meet this character named Dampe who will introduce himself and his tasks. When you talk to him (once you unlock the ability to use this section), you will be prompted with three options (four if you include 'Quit', which I do not); Arrange, Adventure and amiibo. The amiibo option is simple; you can save layouts to an amiibo to share with friends directly (more of this in a few), leaving two primary options.

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And here is where the configuration falls apart.

You have to go to Arrange to arrange a dungeon layout, which of course you have to do before you can play them. But instead of simply playing a newly created layout right from where you create them, you have to go back out of various menus and select 'Adventure' first.

I can understand having these two options separated in the main menu, but WHY couldn't there have been a shortcut in either section? Meaning, right after creating a layout, why couldn't they have added a 'Play This Layout' as soon as you finish creating it? As it is, as soon as you lay down your last tile, you hit the + button to bring up a menu. There you save your layout, exit, or get tips (a forth option right here would have massively improved this feature). First you have to actually save your layout, otherwise it goes away. Once you save your layout, it brings you back to the layout editor so you have to bring up the menu again. Then you have to 'Quit Arranging', which then tells you any unsaved changes will be lost. Confirm this by selecting 'Return to the Menu'.

At this point, you are back to the main 'Arrange' section where you can either create a new layout, or edit an existing one. So you still cannot play the dungeon you just created. Instead, you have to press the 'B' button to go back.

NOW, you can select 'Adventure'. At that point, you are in an area that looks almost exactly like the 'Arrange' section you were just at, with the main difference being that where it previously said 'Arrange Dungeon', it now says 'Play Dungeon'. Select the dungeon you made, hit 'A' and then select 'Play This Dungeon' from the menu that comes up.

This may sound like a little thing, like I'm nitpicking here, but the actual act of going through this all every single time you want to create a new dungeon and then play it is so cumbersome that I actively don't want to do it. And it really seems like a huge failure that they didn't simply add a 'Play This Dungeon' from the same menu where you first finished creating it.

Now as for the 'amiibo' thing I alluded to; from how I understand it, the only way you can actually share these layouts is in person with the amiibo you used to externally save your layout. Leaving out options for uploading and sharing your layouts online seems like such a missed opportunity to me.

At the end of the day it really does not matter; if you are reading this, and you play games, there's a huge chance that you are going to buy this game (if you haven't already) and you are going to love it and you are going to think that I am just a crazy old man, and that is fine. I just wish that I had either spent that $60 elsewhere, OR Nintendo had remade a better Zelda game like A Link To The Past or even Minish Cap (yes, Minish Cap is WAY better than Link's Awakening).

To each their own I guess, but for me personally, at a time where there are already WAY more games than I can possibly afford, there just isn't nearly enough bang for my buck here.

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