Links Awakening

It’s funny how a song encapsulates a time or a place. There’s a great song by Elbow called ‘The Bones of You’ and it describes the moment a piece of music transports you back to a different time and you briefly experience every emotion you felt back then.

Article by Andy Foster Follow him on twitter here: @retrogamingandy

‘When out of a doorway the tentacles stretch of a song that I know and the world moves in slow-mo, straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day’... an absolutely beautiful way of describing a hit of nostalgia. Gemma was a girl I was kinda “with” in the type of way you are when you’re too young to really know what’s happening and she was quite literally the girl next door. I don’t even really remember if I’m remembering it in the right order but for some reason Zelda Links Awakening and playing my Gameboy into the night completing this game reminds me of her.

Awakening

Either way, completing Links Awakening reminds me of walking out into a snow covered col-de-sac and giving Gemma a teddy bear for Valentine’s Day under a street lamp. Did that happen then? Maybe it was the Wind Fish casting a spell over me making me confuse real life with a Disney film…Either way, that’s what my memory banks are projecting so that’s what I’m going with. We definitely sang Grease songs together, that much I do know. Although having regular access to a SNES I have never owned one so could only watch in awe as my friend played ‘A Link To The Past’, getting engrossed in its story from my viewing position of adjacent chair with no joypad!

Legendofzelda Linksawakening Koholint

An RPG is not something you can watch and leave. It has to be lived. It has to be absorbed. So for that reason I never become a huge fan of the series as I couldn’t play it in my own time. That was until my Mum got me ‘Links Awakening’ one Christmas and I absolutely fell in love with all its charms. It’s a beautifully devised game from Nintendo, (as their flagship titles tend to be), with perfectly weighted storylines, controls and a sense of epic’ness you just don’t normally see on the little hand-held.

Linksawakening

For anyone who has played the Gameboy iteration of Zelda it’s quite a spiritual experience and maybe that added to my rather hippy like memories of it. I only completed this game with help from a walkthrough in the early 90’s Gameboy dedicated magazine ‘GB Action’. It’s always been a real shame you don’t get real life walkthroughs, no extra lives, no continues and definitely no cheats. Unless you are an Oxbridge Tory in which case there sometimes can be a cheat mode activated, especially a warp mode to higher levels.

Cheap satire aside, this was one of those games that engrossed me so much that if you cut to various snapshots of my life in that winter, it would just be me and my Gameboy struggling to see under artificial light including car journeys, in the garden, on the toilet, late at night under bedside lamp and through various conversations I was probably meant to be listening to! I feel tired at the prospect of playing through the mind-bending dungeons again and remembering the puzzles in order to progress.

As I get older I have become even more detached from the idea of playing any Role Playing Games, even ones that are so action based such as this one. I much prefer nowadays dipping into something I can easily remember where I was when I last saved! That said, Links Awakening is a beautiful game from start to finish and it really shows off the Gameboy for what it can achieve when the right minds are at the helm. It’s a strange psychedelic entry which separates itself from the franchise as a bit of an oddity but anyone with a slight interest in the Zelda franchise will take this version to heart for sure. The advertising campaign for this game was also a stroke of genius with Rik Mayall doing his best David Brent impression way before the Office was even a seed in Ricky’s head! 

I once wrote a book in middle school for a project about how my main character’s lost balloon took him on the most psychedelic adventure encountering monsters, fantastically bizarre lands and in the end he woke up and it was all a dream. Much like the interpretation of the ending of hit series LOST which seemed to cause so much upset and apparent misunderstanding this game is rather less complicated and the (Spoilers!) ‘It’s all a dream’ cop-out is unfortunately very true! The Zelda games perfectly encapsulate the Dungeons & Dragons geek in all of us in a more digestible manner and ‘Link’s Awakening’ is for me a perfectly realised creation.

For every kid that has fought off ghosts in a misty field, made a tree-house, read Lord of The Rings, played Hero Quest and made a sword and shield out of cardboard, there is the appropriate scenario in this monochrome dot matrix game. I have never felt so much for such a little bunch of pixels; a fantastical and rather spiritual experience, I’m sure you’d agree? Oh, and what happened to Gemma?

Ford Capri Yellow 5

She went out with an older guy with a yellow Ford Capri and a massive mobile phone. I bet he never had a Gameboy... he probably had a Phillips Cdi…

Article by Andy Foster Follow him on twitter here: @retrogamingandy

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