Hey everyone! Mike here with another visit to the Videogame Shoebox and this week, I’m responding to a request from Ben in the Youtube comments who wanted to see me cover a game from the “Legend of Zelda” series so I’ve chosen a game that I hadn’t played since it was originally released for the Nintendo Game Boy all the way back in 1993; The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
This game came out 23 years ago but if the youtube comments are anything to go by people apparently still love to throw the word “spoilers” around, it’s not like a look at a 1993 video game is topical and in the current zeitgeist but be warned, i guess. I talk about the story. Scary.
One love, Mike.
The Legend of Zelda is a long-running series beloved by millions of people across the world. The original game was released on the original Famicom and NES way back in 1986 and Nintendo has managed to keep it relevant all these years later by not being afraid to take risks and switch visual or gameplay styles or allowing other developers to create spin-off-but-still-canon portable titles such as Capcom with the Oracle of Ages & Seasons games that appeared on the colour version of Ninty’s portable powerhouse.
The Zelda series has been spanning for the last 30 years of videogames and has developed itself an over-arching story across all of the titles. The lore of the series itself and the explanation of what game fits in where in it’s huge timeline would actually take up a full Player Attack episode if not longer so for now I’m just going to talk about this Game Boy classic.
Link’s Awakening is the fourth game released under the Zelda banner and once again centres around the little hero in the green tunic, Link.
I’m messing with the DX version which came out for the Game Boy Colour five years later and was also backward compatible with the original model. It is mostly the same game but with a couple of bits added like, oh i dunno COLOUR! and some puzzles that utilise this new feature.
Fresh from saving the world in the Oracle of Ages & Seasons games (which would actually get released years later, see, I told you this would get complicated!) Link is sailing away to hone his skills should the need for him arise again. However, a huge storm shipwrecks him on the mysterious Koholint where he is taken to the house of Tarin and his daughter Marin to recover. Marin is fascinated by Link and the world outside of this small island, and tells Link that if she were a seagull, she would fly away and travel as far as she could across the sea.
Eventually, Link recovers his sword and a mysterious owl tells him that the Wind Fish, Koholint’s guardian, lies in slumber inside a huge egg and must be awoken in order for Link to return home. It can only be awakened by the eight Instruments of the Sirens.
The game progresses as you continue your quest to locate these eight magical instruments but during his search for the sixth instrument, Link finds himself in the Ancient Ruins where he finds a mural that details the reality of island.
It is merely a dream world created by the Wind Fish. A fantasy made real by the immense magical power of the creature as it sleeps.
After this shocker of a plot-twist, the owl shows up again and tells Link that this is only a rumour, and only the Wind Fish knows for certain whether it is true. To know for sure you’d have to wake the Wind Fish (Windwaker, geddit?) and save the other inhabitants of the island who are more than likely trapped in the same fantasy as you.
The enemies around the island and the bosses guarding the instruments are well justified in the story as nightmare creatures attempting to obstruct Link’s quest for the instruments, as they wish to rule the Wind Fish’s dreamworld for themselves.
After collecting the eight instruments from the dungeons across the island, Link climbs to the top of Mt. Tamaranch and plays the Ballad of the Wind Fish. The egg in which the Wind Fish sleeps breaks open and Link enters but there is one last evil being, a nightmare that takes the form of Ganon and other enemies from Link’s past, sort of like a greatest hits of Zelda bosses up until this point. Its final form is “DethI”, a one-eyed, tentacled shadow. After Link defeats DethI, that bloody owl shows up again and reveals itself to be the Wind Fish’s guardian. The Wind Fish explains that the island of Koholint is all Link’s dream and that it is HE who must wake up in order to return to his world.
When Link plays the Ballad of the Wind Fish once more, he and the Wind Fish awaken; Koholint Island and all its inhabitants slowly disappear. Link finds himself lying on driftwood in the middle of the ocean, exactly where he was left at the beginning of the game after the maelstrom wrecked his boat, the Wind Fish flying overhead. If you played the game very, VERY well, and managed not to lose any lives during the game, Marin is shown flying after the ending credits finish, either in the form of a winged woman when played in the original black and white format, or she takes the form of a seagull if played with colour in the DX version.
A surprisingly poignant ending with just enough foreshadowing for it to be both satisfying and dreadfully sad at the same time, was Marin trapped in a dream in the same way that you were? Or was she invented by Link’s own imagination in order for him to not go mad on an island he cannot escape and to keep him focused on his quest?
Did I, by waking the Wind Fish kill Marin?
That’s it for this visit to the Videogame Shoebox, join me next time when I’ll be dusting off some more cartridges. Be sure to let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MikeNotridge any games that you’d like to see get a retro-regression-session on here.
I’ve been Mike Notridge, and I will see you, next time.
What’s in your Videogame Shoebox?