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The White Family: Link’s Awakening is the Perfect First Zelda

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The Legend of Zelda made its handheld debut in 1993 with Link’s Awakening on the original Nintendo GameBoy. It was the fourth game released in the series, following A Link to the Past. Earlier this year, in a surprise announcement, Nintendo revealed it was remaking the classic adventure for the Nintendo Switch. The game was released on September 20, 2019. While the core game remains unchanged, it's been reimagined with a toy-like art design.

When the original game launched, I was eleven and a huge GameBoy fan. Link’s Awakening quickly became one of my all-time favourite games and remains one today. With that history, I could not wait to share this experience with my two oldest kids, who are now thirteen and ten.

The core of the game has not really changed. This is a 1:1 remake of the original. From the map layout to hidden caves and secret locations it is all as it was in the original. If you have played Link’s Awakening before and are worried that it’s changed from the game you love, you can’t rest assured it’s not.

Son Plays Link's Awakening on TV

It is worth pointing out that the original was made for the GameBoy, so there were already limitations in dungeon design and boss encounters. Since the remake is 1:1, those are basically the same. If you are looking for giant, escalating battles or 5 and 6-floor dungeons, you will have to look elsewhere. However, the contained size makes it perfect for my kids who are being introduced to this game for the first time.

Sitting down with them to play took me right back to my first encounter with the world when I was their age. Sharing their journey into the nooks and carnies of the story, character and dungeons was a real privilege. I also took some pride in being able to help them out if they got stuck.

I can happily say that the 2019 remake still holds true to those same standards. It might be a little on the easy side for more seasoned players, but it is easily one of the best Switch games of the year.

Son Plays Link's Awakening in Handheld Mode

Every day I have conversations with my kids about winning a Yoshi doll from the local vendor or walking a Chain-Chomp around the overworld. We shared stories about dungeon secrets and tips to beat the bosses. It’s the first Zelda game that the three of us have been playing through simultaneously.

I would highly recommend this game to anyone, but if you are looking for the best game to introduce your kids to The Legend of Zelda, there just isn’t a better option available today.

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Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.