Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Remaking Link's Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS

Following the previous rumors about a remake of Link's Awakening in the style of A Link Between Worlds, I put some more thoughts into how such a title would look like on the Nintendo 3DS. The rumors described it as more "open" to follow the success of Breath of the Wild, where A Link Between Worlds already had the same goal.

Overall the engine of A Link Between Worlds could easily be used to remake the GameBoy (Color) Zelda games. It wouldn't have to follow the SNES style visuals - similar to the town of Hytopia in Tri Force Heroes such a remake could just define its own visuals based on the engine to create something that's closer to the looks of the GameBoy style.

At the same time it would make sense, if a remake of Link's Awakening wouldn't be a simple remake, but its own story placed after A Link Between Worlds. The latter was in many ways very similar to A Link to the Past and also remade that classic Hyrule overworld on the Nintendo 3DS, where you could the describe the game as a mix of a remake and a sequel, a "requel". And for Link's Awakening Nintendo could create another requel as well, where they bring back the island of Koholint and where they will also tell the story of the Wind Fish, but it will be a new story, experienced by the Link from A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes after his travels through the Drablands. The Wind Fish could have simply fallen asleep again over the ages and is in need of a new hero.

This would give Nintendo the opportunity to base the game on the original material, while creating something new at the same time. A strict remake of Link's Awakening would probably be boring and like A Link to the Past the game isn't really in dire need of one.

Well, the original Link's Awakening was quite linear outside of its dungeons, where you usually needed the key item from one dungeon to proceed to the next. In addition there were scripted events after completing certain dungeons, where otherwise you couldn't make any progress at all, even with the dungeon item at hand. Most of these events have to do with the companions that will follow you around throughout the game. So, let's take a look, how these restrictions could be eased up...


Roc's Feather, Power Bracelet, Pegasus Boots, Flippers, Hookshot... Almost all of the dungeon items in the game help you with traversing the overworld of Koholint. But ideally you wouldn't be as limited by their obstacles right from the start. They could serve as short cuts, but there should still be ways around that you can take from the beginning. The original game even allowed for early exploration of some parts, but it stopped you with some (unnecessary) dead ends.

In the very least Nintendo could provide a choice between a couple of dungeons at a time. For example in the beginning you would be able to play either the Tail Cave or the Bottle Grotto. And both the Roc's Feather and the Power Bracelet would allow you to go east on different paths, where you could access either the Key Cavern or the Angler's Tunnel...

A Link Between Worlds opened its game up via Ravio's shop, where you could rent and purchase most of the items in the game. And Link's Awakening essentially had the predecessor of that idea with the Town Tool Shop in Mabe Village...

There you could buy the Shovel, Bombs, as well as the Bow. You didn't have to purchase the latter, since it's only required for a key inside Turtle Rock, a dungeon that has about 50% optional parts. The Shovel, however, was required to beat the game, where you have to buy it before Level 3 at the latest.

A Link's Awakening requel could place more of its key items into the shop, instead of into its dungeons, but such a drastic change probably wouldn't be necessary. In fact getting all items early in both A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild made it somewhat meaningless where you go first, because you can't really miss anything. The only thing to miss is a real feeling of progression. Here it would be interesting, if Nintendo tried something different, where the game is still open, because you don't really need all the items from the dungeons to make progress, but where at the same time these items provide access to shortcuts, optional parts in other dungeons and hidden secrets like the Secret Seashells.

Apropos, the Secret Seashells could potentially become more similar to the Maiamais from A Link Between Worlds, maybe even be replaced by them, where you still get the upgrade for the sword, but also for the other items. They could also add various items that weren't part of the original game, e.g. an Ice Rod.

With some items it would also be interesting to make good use of the 3D effects, where the Roc's Feather seems like the most interesting candidate, which probably would replace the Tornado Rod in some form.


In Link's Awakening you had various entities follow you around Koholint as part of the quests: the Chain-Chomp Dog BowWow, the lovely Marin, an annoying Ghost and the useful Flying Rooster. All of them were restricted to a specific part of the game, where after completing certain tasks you would part from them.

A Link's Awakening requel could do things differently by always granting access to the companions after "unlocking" them for the first time. Want to take BowWow for walkies? Just ask Madam MeowMeow! Want another date with Marin? Just ask her out and bring her back to the Weather Vane afterwards.

Talking about the Weather Vane, the Flying Rooster could even become your new method of "teleportation" in the game, essentially replacing Irene's Broomstick from A Link Between Worlds. And much like in the 3DS Hyrule, you might find Weather Vanes everywhere on Koholint as save points. Of course the Flying Rooster would need to be unlocked early one for this scenario.

Hero Mode, Trial Cave, Clothes

Well, naturally they could add the typical features that Zelda games have seen in the last years: a Hero Mode option, which they could call "Nightmare Mode", and a floor-based enemy gauntlet, which might even include most bosses. Nothing too special here, but always nice to have. Ideally such a "Nightmare Mode" would also modify the dungeons in some meaningful ways, instead of simply increasing the damage. And the trial cave could be implemented via different levels in the Dream Shrine, where the Minish Cap already had a similar feature with Simon's Simulations.

It's questionable whether the Color Dungeon or the photo quest would actually return in such a requel, since they won't aim to sell GameBoy Color systems or GameBoy Printers with a new title on the Nintendo 3DS. But in the very least the Red and Blue Mails from the Color Dungeon could be preserved as rewards for the trial cave or whatever new dungeons they might add. They could even go as far and bring back the outfits from Tri Force Heroes in some form, where you could collect them for different bonuses.

StreetPass, Online Multiplayer, amiibo...

Ideally Nintendo would keep the game pure and clear of most hardware gimmicks aside from the 3D. A Link Between Worlds featured StreetPass, while Tri Force Heroes focused on online multiplayer and also offered some Miiverse integration. The latter is already dead, however, while the rest seem to be dying features. So, Nintendo might want to stay off them. It's more likely that they will try to integrate amiibo in some form, because that's something they haven't done with the Nintendo 3DS Zelda games yet.


Lankelink said...

I enjoyed a lot the non linearity of A Link Between Worlds, but it had some flaws, namely the difficulty of the dungeons being almost the same, and the items being used almost exclusively inside the dungeons.

One of the aspects I liked the most in Link's Awakening, despite the linearity, was that every time I got a new dungeon item, the map expanded more and more. I see three different "barriers" in Zelda games: obstacles that you need some item to beat, stronger enemies, or story events. Link's Awakening used the first type a lot (which I liked because they are tied to exploration) and it felt to me a bit similar to metroid games: you have a map to explore with some dead ends, then you find some power-ups and those paths open, giving a feeling of progression. I don't like to get one new item, then use it in a dungeon, and then forget about it. I prefer to use that item as a "power-up" that enables me to get stronger/access new areas (I like the idea of using the items to access shortcuts).

Having (almost) all items from the beginning doesn't give me that feeling of progression. And having acces to (almost) all dungeons from the start hinders the development of the story.

I would like a mix between the linearity from Link's Awakening and the non-linearity from a Link Between Worlds. Like, for example, at first it seems that you only have access to Dungeon Lvl1 and you need Roc's feather to access Lvl2. But if you buy the bombs from the shop, you can find a secret path that allows you to enter Lvl2 without the feather. And then, Dungeons Lvl 3 and 4 can be accesed by having Roc's feather OR the power bracelet. And then for Dungeon 5 and 6 you need to go through a lake using the flippers, or you could participate in a race using the pegasus boots and win a ticket to board in a boat and reach the other side... or why not, just buy the ticket with rupees.

This way, the map could be designed in a way that dungeon access (or the chest with the dungeon key) can be reached in different ways using different items. At the same time, dungeons would need to have increasing difficulty, and have some optional (or required, in the case of the last dungeons) areas which require items from previous dungeons. So you have different possibilities in the order you face the dungeons, but not total freedom, so you can still build story events around that.

By the way, I totally agree that secret seashells should be replaced by the Maiamais, loved them in a Link Between Worlds. Ah, and don't forget to include the 999 seconds cucco minigame ;)

TourianTourist said...

Some good thoughts! (Except for that 999 seconds Cucco game, keep that out of my Link's Awakening!)