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Legend of Zelda DX: Link's Awakening
Platform:  Gameboy
# of Players:  1 (2 with link cable
Developer:  Rebellion
Publisher:  Infogrames
Features:  Infrared, printer compatible, for Gameboy Color on
Ratings:  Early Childhood
Memory Req.:  
Wow! Let me just say that Zelda DX is one of the best handheld titles to come out in a long, long time. It's no wonder though, as one of Nintendo's flagship titles you can only expect good things. From the beginning, the story and gameplay are tweaked to an almost perfect level.

The story begins as you wash up on a tropical island after your boat is wrecked in a storm . Your mission is to wake the sleeping, magical Wind-Bird. You must travel across the island, fight in dungeons, and find seven magical musical instruments needed to wake the Wind-Bird, and leave the island.

You have been found by a local girl who brings you home to recuperate from your near fatal wreck. When you awake she informs you that you were found on a beach and should go there to see if you can find anything left of your ship. There are many places in the town to visit, such as Madam Meow-Meow's house, where you meet Bow Wow, a pet who will figure in later in the game. There are shops, info centers and a mini fishing game in the town to serve all your needs. Then it's off to the beach to find something very important to your further progress in the game.

One thing I found really interesting is how well the game is balanced and the important items are placed evenly throughout the game. In the beginning it's all about dodging the monsters, and trying to find the next life up. Later in the game I found that in one room you may have to use 3 or more items in rapid succession just to get to the other side! The cool thing here is that the controls are so intuitive that it's really not confusing or difficult to do. Ahhh, they joy of a well thought out action/RPG. There are just too many games along these lines that you have to press start, select, start, A,B,A,A,A just to pause the game.

Graphically speaking, Zelda DX is impressive, not the sprites themselves, they're just OK, but the color palettes used in the game (especially on the terrain) are very subtle and add to the richness of the overall game experience. The End Level Bosses are probably the best character sprites, getting bigger and bigger as you get deeper into the game.

The dungeons are laid out simply, but ingeniously designed. What looks like a simple straight shot from one end of the dungeon to the other is interrupted by lots of secret passages, teleports, and challenging puzzles that block your way. There are certain parts of the dungeons that can only be described as Super Mario Bros. It was funny and refreshing to see the pipes with the man eating plants, as well as the lil' mushroom guys from SuperMario Bros too.

The pacing and plot play out like a dream. This is why Nintendo is the super heavyweight champion of videogames. Well, 16 bit games at least. It's rare that a new game gives you what you loved about video games back in the day, without straight up copying a classic. Zelda really delivers in the overly populated, but rarely interesting world of Action/RPG's. I recommend purchasing Zelda DX without hesitation.

John Cooper

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