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Game Boy vs. Switch: The biggest differences in Link’s Awakening remake

Just how much has Koholint Island changed since 1993?

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Link’s Awakening on Switch: Link wakes up in the starting house Grezzo/Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on Switch is a direct remake of the original 1993 Game Boy game. (Technically, it’s a remake of the 1998 remake Link’s Awakening DX, since it features that game’s exclusive dungeon.) But unlike the recent Metroid: Samus Returns, the gameplay in Link’s Awakening remains mostly untouched, with Nintendo paying the most attention to graphics and audio. But if you’ve played the original Link’s Awakening a few dozen times, you are liable to notice a few slight differences. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

There’s a dungeon builder

The Switch remake’s biggest addition is the ability to create your own dungeons using the pieces from dungeons you’ve completed already. These “Chamber Dungeons” are hosted by Dampé, the gravedigger first made famous in Ocarina of Time. Like most of the dungeons in Link’s Awakening, the Chamber Dungeons you create are pretty simplistic. But if you’re looking to design a mish-mash of your favorite rooms from every dungeon in the game, head to Dampé.

Sad news, though: Dampé’s stone shack is located where the Photographer’s house was in Link’s Awakening DX, which means there’s no camera mouse this time around (at least not that we’ve found so far).

You can mark up the map


The original Link’s Awakening had an overworld map with some vague indicators of dungeon and town locations. The remake’s map is far more detailed, allowing you to zoom all the way in, picking out individual rocks and trees. Better still, you can now mark up the map with a variety of icons, indicating suspicious holes and chests that you can return to later.

The Link’s Awakening controls are vastly improved

The Game Boy had two, count ‘em, two buttons. Given that one was almost always your sword, that left just a single button free for your various pieces of equipment. In the remake, the Switch’s B button is always your sword, and the triggers are always your shield and (eventually) your dash attack. The X and Y buttons are still fully programmable, which means that you can, say, keep the handy Roc’s Feather (which allows Link to jump) equipped at all times, while using the other button for other items. It’s a huge improvement.

Fairy bottles exist now


It’s hard to believe but the original Link’s Awakening didn’t have any Fairy Bottles. These handy jars have been used in many Zelda games to store a fairy, saving Link from certain death. But they weren’t in the original version of the game. They appear in the remake, and they’re extra handy for taking on some of the game’s tougher challenges. One can be found very early in the game as one of the rewards at the Crane Game house in the starting town.

You’ll find more seashells with the Seashell Sensor

The original game had 26 hidden seashells scattered across the map. Finding 20 of them unlocked the best sword in Link’s Awakening. While we’re not sure how many seashells there are this time around, we know that it’s way more than 26, and probably closer to 50.

Once you hit 20 found shells, finding the remaining ones gets a lot easier, as you’re rewarded with the Seashell Sensor. Once equipped, you’ll get a ping whenever you’re within spitting distance of a hidden shell. It’s super handy.

There are more dolls in the crane game


Bizarrely, Link’s Awakening is filled with nods to the Mario franchise. This has been true since the original Game Boy version, and the remake finds even more room for references. The first step of the infamous trading quest involves getting a Yoshi doll from the Crane Game house in Mabe Village. After that, more Mario universe dolls appear in the house, from Shy Guy to Blooper. These dolls can be placed in a handful of the houses around town, brightening up the joints.

Final reward of the trading quest

If you remember the original game, you may recall the final reward for the trading quest. We won’t spoil it here, but suffice it to say, the final reward is even more helpful than it was in the original. Woo!

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