The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

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The fourth game in The Legend of Zelda series, and the first on the Game Boy.

Following his defeat of Ganon in A Link To The Past, the young hero Link left Hyrule to go on a Journey to Find Himself and to train himself to prepare for future threats to Hyrule. After completing his travels, he sails homewards towards Hyrule when his boat is suddenly caught in a violent storm and struck by lightning. When he awakes, he finds himself shipwrecked on the shores of Koholint Island.

Link soon discovers that Koholint Island is the home of a creature known as the Wind Fish, and that as long as the Wind Fish slumbers it is impossible to leave the island. The only way to wake the Wind Fish is to gather and play the eight Instruments Of The Siren hidden around Koholint, guarded by monsters known as Nightmares.

During his quest to awaken the Wind Fish, Link meets and befriends the island's eclectic inhabitants, most notably a young singer girl named Marin who dreams of leaving the island. And as he nears the end of his journey, Link discovers a horrifying truth about Koholint Island: that it is All Just a Dream, a creation of the slumbering Wind Fish, and by completing his quest Link will bring about a Dream Apocalypse.

Link's Awakening returned to the straightforward 8-dungeon approach of the first game, but featured prominent story-developing sidequests in between dungeons. Notably, while previous games in the series had utilized Magic Music as a Warp Whistle, this was the first game to include more than one song, and make the songs actually important to the story. Both the A and B buttons could be assigned to any items you wanted, even allowing you to fight without a sword if you wanted, although the constant need to go into the inventory screen to switch around items irritated some players.

Interestingly, according to Takashi Tezuka and Eiji Aonuma, David Lynch's Twin Peaks was apparently the main inspiration for this game.

The game has two Updated Rereleases.

Tropes used in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening include:
  • One Hundred Percent Completion: If you want to get all of the pictures in the DX version you must steal from the shopkeeper, despite how much of a bad idea that is.
  • All Just a Dream: But whose dream? That's the real question.
    • And thanks to the very last scene after Link wakes up we see the Windfish in the sky, so was it all really a dream?
  • All Witches Have Cats: The witch Link meets in the Mysterious Forest have one.
  • Anticlimax Boss: If you managed to complete the Fetch Quest and get the Boomerang, the final boss's final form goes down in one hit.
    • But provided that you don't get/use the Boomerang, it is most likely the hardest battle in the game, and one of the most fun.
    • The long, multi-part final battle has its own unique music, but when the actual final boss appears, the music downgrades to the mini-boss theme.
    • It's important to note that the bosses in Angler's cave and Turtle Rock are ridiculously easy. Angler you can just hit with your sword rapid-fire and win with no damage. Hot Head, meanwhile, you can just rapidly-fire the fire rod at them and kill 'em almost as easily as the angler (just don't let him hit you; 4 hearts of damage is nothing to sneeze at). It even STUNLOCKS him.
    • The Facade of the Face Shrine is rather easily beaten...and even got a downgrade to a mini-boss in Oracle of Seasons.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Tarin, who turns into a raccoon. This may not be a full example, because Tarin remembers it as a dream and comments that "it sure was fun!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Link is finally free, but defeating the final boss and awakening the Wind Fish means destroying all the people you've met along the way (at least in the default ending). Alternatively....
    • Downer Ending: Beat the game, and Link causes a Dream Apocalypse... oh, and he's also lost at sea (though it is likely he makes it home offscreen; there are seagulls flying about, after all...)
      • It is, however, implied in the secret ending animation (unlocked by completing the game without dying) that Marin survived in some fashion and that her wish to be a seabird was granted.
        • Even worse in the manga since Link Did Not Get the Girl after inviting Marin to return to Hyrule with him and he even tried to leave the island early with her.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Richard was driven out of his castle by his treacherous guards.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The DX version has a color-themed dungeon. Completing it allows you to choose a colored tunic to increase either your offensive or defensive power.
  • Bowdlerize: They changed cross-shaped grave markers into "RIP" rounded-block gravestones. Also, the bikini top of the Mermaid became a... pearl necklace.
    • And another is the model Hippo in Animal Village who tells you to go away so the artist can paint her. Originally, she was a nude model (with visible breasts) with a towel which she pulls up when Link enters the studio.
  • The Cameo: Yoshi doll ("Lately, he's been showing up in a lot of games!"), a picture of Peach, a pet Chain Chomp[1], Goombas, Piranha Plants, Thwomps, and an evil Kirby as enemies, Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2 appears as an NPC, along with Pokeys and Shyguys as additional enemies, and Richard from the Japan-only game For the Frog The Bell Tolls.
  • Cardboard Obstacle: The game loves throwing these at you, like blocking paths with stones... in areas that you can only get to if you can lift stones. And unlike in A Link to The Past, you have to actively equip a different inventory item for every bit of lifting, jumping, or dashing you do.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Genie boss openly proclaims to be a bad guy before the fight begins.
  • Chain of Deals: Starts with the Yoshi doll in the Trendy Game (which you need 10 rupees to play). A few places, it's actually required to proceed further in the game.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: By Ataru Cagiva, who later did a manga adaptation of A Link to The Past.
  • Continuity Cameo: Dethl's shapes resemble Agahnim, Molderm, and Ganon.
  • Continuity Nod: To A Link to the Past. Link is "cursed" by a crazy bat, a monkey helps Link get into a dungeon, Link gets Magic Powder from a witch after giving her mushrooms, and a few bosses from the previous game show up again. Justified in that Koholint seems to be borrowing from Link's memories.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Awaken a bat (on loan from A Link to The Past) and he'll "curse" you, forcing you to carry twice as much magic powder/bombs/arrows. Oh no, anything but that!
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: See the entry for Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
  • Date My Avatar: Mr. Write's 'pen pal' mailing him her alleged photo which is actually a photo of Princess Peach. The 'pen pal' is actually an anthropomorphic goat.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: If you steal from the shopkeeper, all that happens is you respawn in the town of the shop and are named THIEF. If you don't mind the name (or want to get 100% completion), all that happens is a minor inconvenience, making actually paying for your stuff rather pointless.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: As said below, if you steal an item, no matter how cheap, from the shopkeeper, he kills you.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The fifth dungeon's Dangerously Genre Savvy miniboss goes out of character and steals the dungeon's item from its chest. He then leaves a note behind, taunting Link to come and get it. Especially stupid since he'd already said, "Argh! I can't defeat you!" before giving up and running away.
  • Dream Apocalypse: The Ending. Easily the most well-known example of this trope.
    • The secret ending animation (unlocked by completing the game without dying) teases that the apocalypse may have been somewhat less than total, although it gives no indication of how or why this might be.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The way Link obtains the Ocarina.
  • Easily Angered Shopkeeper: If you steal from the shop, your player name is permanently changed to THIEF, and if you reenter, the shopkeeper will chastise you for not paying, then kill you.
  • Easter Egg
    • Entering "ZELDA" as the player's name on the file selection screen changes the music for that screen until it is exited (and only once unless it is entered again).
    • Kazumi Totaka worked on the soundtrack, and this time there are three versions programmed into the game, though one never plays in-game and the other required entering "Totakeke" (Totaka's nickname) as the player's name in the Japanese version using kana, after which it would play in the same manner as the other file selection screen Easter Egg; due to the writing system change this was Dummied Out in most international versions except for the German translation, whose script writer, Claude Moyse, added it back by making it play when his last name is entered in all caps as the player's name in that version.
  • Epic Flail: Obviously, the Ball & Chain Trooper wield this type of weapon.
  • Escort Mission: A large steel ball in the seventh dungeon. It's entirely possible to get the thing stuck in such a way that the game becomes Unwinnable. Also used when Link escorts Marin around the island, although she's invulnerable to damage.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a game about Link waking up
  • Exposition Fairy: The owl.
  • Expy: Tarin, the mushroom-obsessed man with a fabulous mustache? Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
    • Mr. Write is a pretty obvious Expy of Dr. Wright from the SNES port of SimCity. His theme music is even the same.
  • Fishing Minigame: First one of the series!
  • Friend to All Living Things: The residents of Animal Village adore Marin.
  • Funetik Aksent: Tarin.
  • Fetch Quest: One of the most extensive of the series.
  • Foreshadowing: Parodied. Papahl outright tells you at the start of the game that he'll get himself lost somewhere in the hills later on.
  • Game Breaking Bug: It's possible to use the keys in the wrong order in the fourth and eighth dungeons...thus locking you in... forever.
    • Strangely enough, the third and eight dungeon actually have a security key for just that case (former in the very last puzzle before the boss and latter hidden in a statue you'd shoot with an arrow). The fourth dungeon however lacks one.
  • Genre Blindness: Despite being Dangerously Genre Savvy in battle (see below), the fifth dungeon's miniboss makes the mistake of stealing the dungeon's item, thus making it mandatory to find and kill him, no matter how much he flees.
  • Giant Flyer: The Wind Fish, albeit with comically-undersized angel wings.
  • Guest Star Party Member: At certain points in the game, Bow-Wow the chain chomp, Marin, a ghost, and a flying blue rooster all accompany Link temporarily.
  • Identical Stranger: Link, upon first meeting Marin, mistakes her for Princess Zelda.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Magic Rod. It is twice as powerful as the LVL 2 Sword and Link can fire projectiles at any HP. Mooks catch on fire and die a slow, painful death. It goes without saying that this is a sadistically fun weapon too. It's also the only item in the entire series that can kill Cuccoos.
    • The Boomerang. You can only get it at the end of a sidequest spanning half of the game, but it is well worth it, being able to slaughter almost anything in the game, including otherwise unkillable Anti-Fairies and Sparks, and including the final boss, Dethl.
  • Insistent Terminology: Richard has a loose definition of "villa."
  • Item Get: Link actually holds up Marin in this manner at one point.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: The game starts of this way.
  • Jump Physics: When using the feather.
    • Not Quite Flight: The Flying Rooster required to access the seventh dungeon can be picked up with the Power Bracelet to fly pretty much indefinitely, though he doesn't accompany you into the actual dungeon, and he leaves you after it's completed.
  • King Mook: King Moblin, a mini-boss encountered in the Moblin cave that isn't only the largest but also leads the the moblins that captured Bow-Wow.
  • Lost Forever: Some secret seashells if you don't go to the mansion at the right times, and another one only accessible while you have the Flying Rooster. But there are more than enough to get the level 2 sword, even without those.
  • Magic Music: Your Ocarina has special powers starting in this game. Also, your goal in the game is to collect magical instruments to play along with the Ocarina.
  • Metal Detector Puzzle: Explore the island with Bow-Wow before you return him, and he'll tell you the location of buried shells.
  • Mind Rape: This is what the Nightmares are essentially trying to do to the Wind Fish. By invading his mind and hijacking his dream world, they plan to control his mind. In response, the Wind Fish's spirit draws Link into the dream as a means of trying to protect himself.
  • Multiple Endings: There's a bonus scene at the end of the credits if you manage to win without a game over.
  • Never Say "Die": "You k-k-k-beat my brothers!"
  • No Damage Run: Well, No Game Over Run anyways--this is required to get the best ending.
  • Oh Crap: From the 5th dungeon on, the dungeon bosses panic when defeated, realizing that Link's coming closer and closer to awakening the Wind Fish and causing the aforementioned Dream Apocalypse. To say nothing of the Villainous Breakdown the Wind Fish's Nightmare has when it's defeated.
  • One-Hit Kill: Boomerang. Final Boss.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss pulls a mild version of this, in a last ditch effort to beat Link.
  • Only Shop in Town: Mabe Village only has one store. Confusingly, though, the crane-minigame building also has "SHOP" written on the roof in giant letters, but you can't actually buy anything there.
  • Playing With Fire: The Genie boss is able to launch fireballs at Link.
  • Power-Up Motif: The Piece of Power and Guardian Acorn work exactly this way; they change the background music for a short time, and when the song stops the powerup is over.
  • Recurring Riff: The Color Dungeon in DX uses the dungeon theme from the original Legend of Zelda game.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music in the 4th dungeon is a mildly remixed version of the "generic cave" music from this same game.
  • Regional Bonus: As mentioned above, the German translation re-added an Easter Egg that most other Western translations removed.
  • Sealed Evil in A Can: The Mad Batter apparently thinks he is this, but considering all we see him doing is helping Link, he's at best a Minion with an F In Evil.
  • Sequence Breaking: Although it's a far more minor example compared to the boatloads of Sequence Breaking possible in the previous installment as well as the next installment (mostly due to the way dungeons are accessed in this installment), in Turtle Rock, there's a bombable wall on the other side of a small pool of lava. Using the bomb arrow trick allows Link to simply bomb said wall from across the lava (and thus from the opposite side of the wall from what the designers intended) and then equip the Roc's Feather and jump over the pool of lava from either side. The fact that this gives Link access to a few keys makes the dungeon much easier.
    • There's also a glitch in the original black and white version which allowed the player to "warp" from his current location to the exact same location--one screen away. Not only did this allow for a lot of extra exploration, but could occasionally lead to "Glitch Rooms" that contain later items, and allowed one to clear the second dungeon without either obtaining the power bracelet or beating the boss.
  • Schizo-Tech: Telephones, photography, and a crane game exist in a Medieval Stasis world.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The fifth dungeon's miniboss will flee from the battle after being hurt a few times... and does this two more times after you find him again.
    • The boss of the seventh dungeon first appears as a miniboss, but clears the scene once you k-k-k-beat his batty brothers.
  • Ship Tease: Link basically takes Marin on a date at one point in the game.
  • Shoplift and Die: "I wasn't kidding when I said pay! Now you'll pay the ultimate price!" *cue the lightning*
  • Shout-Out: if you find a chest with 20 rupees inside of it, the game will tell you "you found 20 rupees! JOY!" "JOY!" was one of Stimpy's catch phrases in Ren and Stimpy, which was airing at the time of the game's release. Similarly, the "Burn it!" in the text seen upon obtaining the Magic Rod may be a reference to Beavis and Butthead.
    • And there is a whole mess of Super Mario shout outs. See The Cameo, above.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The boss of the fifth dungeon talks like this.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sort of. The final boss has a pretty awesome theme, but when you reach his final form, the miniboss theme, of all things, begins to play.
  • Space-Filling Path: The route to a location less than a screen away is often surprisingly convoluted. Several puzzles in Turtle Rock also require you to trace out a space-filling path with a movable block.
  • Sky Whale: The Wind Fish.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru ("For the Frog the Bell Tolls") an earlier action-adventure game for the Game Boy. The main character from Kaeru, Richard, makes a cameo in Link's Awakening
  • Spoiler Title: In the US version, about two-thirds of the way through the game you make the (very unexpected) realization that the whole of Koholint Island is just a dream of the Wind Fish. Meanwhile, the Japanese version of the game's name is The Legend of Zelda: Dream Island. Well that certainly ruins the tension.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Genie practically yells his weakness to Link.
  • Trick Arrow: Equipping both the bow and the bombs allows Link to fire a bomb arrow.
  • Unique Enemy: Almost every enemy found in the DX version's Color Dungeon is found nowhere else, but among them there is only one each of the blue variants of the Camo Goblin and Karakoro.
  • Updated Rerelease: A Game Boy Color-enhanced version was later released as Link's Awakening DX. Sadly a victim to Bowdlerize, see above.
    • Now downloadable on the 3DS.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Unusual for a Zelda game, you can kill Cuccos and dogs with a certain weapon acquired late in the game.
    • You can kill them with the magic powder, too. The difference is that that weapon lets you do it from a distance.
      • The friendly Zora in Animal Village can be killed just like any enemy, though not with the sword.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you attack the dog, it attacks you. And if you attack a Cucco too many times, it summons up a whole host of its buddies to attack you. However, unlike the other games in the series, you can stop a Cucco attack by using the magic rod or magic powder on the original Cucco. The Cucco will burn to death and the other Cuccos will stop attacking you.
  • Video Game Settings:
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dethl, the final Nightmare, when it's defeated. "This island is going to disappear... Our world is going to disappear... Our world..."
  • Whale Egg: It's rather self-explanatory. Seriously, it's part of the plot... It IS the plot.
  • Wham! Episode: The Face Shrine. You learn that the island is the Wind Fish's dream, and that by waking it up, the island and everyone on it will disappear.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: People will call you "THIEF" instead of the name you chose for Link if you steal from the shop in Mabe Village. And if you ever return to the shop...
    • Partial solution: Name your character THIEF to begin with.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Wind Fish speaks it.
  • You Bastard: "You got it for free. Are you proud of yourself?"

  1. Referred to here as "BowWow", which is closer to his Japanese name "WanWan"