Title :Zelda DX: Link's Awakening
Platforms :Game Boy Color
Publisher :Nintendo
ESRB Rating :K-A
Game Rating :9.8
Review by :Robert Boyd

In 1993, Nintendo released a game called Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Game Boy. In it, the adventurer Link has been shipwrecked on a mysterious island and has to find a way back to his homeland. This is no easy task considering that the inhabitants of this island have no concept of existence outside of the island. Link's only hope is a strange owl who tells him to seek the eight instruments of the Wind Fish as they are the only means by which you can escape this land. Thus, begins the quest. Along the way, you'll explore several dungeons, fight monsters, solve puzzles, and find treasures that will help you in your quest. 

The game received widespread acclaim because of its high quality graphics and music (for the Game Boy anyway), excellent gameplay, and a simple yet intriguing story. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone that when Nintendo announced their intentions to update classic Game Boy games to take advantage of the Game Boy Color, Zelda was one of the first games to be remade. 

The biggest and most obvious enhancements made to this new version of Zelda: Link's Awakening (entitled Zelda DX) are in the graphics. Don't be fooled by the screenshots on the Game Boy Color system box — some of them were obviously taken from a prototype version as the actual graphics look better than that. The graphics are a bit simplistic compared to games on more powerful systems like the Super Nintendo, but they look good despite their simplicity. And the color graphics even make the game easier and more enjoyable to play: for example, specific items are easier to find and select on the subscreen due to the differences in color. 

As one of the first games designed to take advantage of the Game Boy Color's special features, Zelda DX paints a pretty picture of the system's capabilities. This is partly because Zelda DX looks so good, but it is also because Zelda DX probably isn't stressing the system very hard. It doesn't look like the game ever uses more than 20 colors at a time, and since the game runs on the original Game Boy as well (minus the color), it's doubtful that the game is taking full advantage of the Game Boy Color's faster CPU or increased memory. This means that when games are released that work the system to the max, they should look even better than Zelda DX — good news for Game Boy Color owners. 

There are a few changes to the gameplay, but they are relatively minor compared to the graphical improvements. There are two major gameplay additions. There is a new optional dungeon with its own monsters and rewards; it's a little short, but fun nevertheless. There are also 12 full screen pictures that are fun to look at and hard to find. These changes don't revolutionize the gameplay, but instead help to further refine it toward perfection. 

Zelda DX is a fine update to an excellent game and a good showcase title for the Game Boy Color. A sequel would have been even better, but as it stands, Zelda DX comes highly recommended. 

This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 18-Jan-99