Genre: Action Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Nintendo
The fourth installment and first handheld title of the Legend of Zelda series is a bit of an odd duck with an offbeat sensibility filled with cameos and 4th wall breaking. It has the winning Zelda formula without actually having most of the trappings of other installments as there is no Zelda, Hyrule or Triforce to be had. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.
It starts with Link on a journey home after adventures outside Hyrule, when his boat is caught in a storm. Link is washed ashore on Koholint Island where he is informed by a talking owl that he cannot leave the island unless we wakes the Wind Fish sleeping in a giant egg atop a mountain. The only way to do that is to find 8 instruments scattered in caves around the island and play them. Players do the normal overhead adventure stuff, but with a tone that is both epic and lighthearted. Controls are tight and simple and the music is a wonder. Link's Awakening is actually the first Zelda title to have different themes for each level. It is actually filled with firsts that would go on to become staples of the series such as an item trading mini-quest, fishing mini-game, playing songs on an ocarina (oh my!) and marks one of the few times Link can jump on command.
If you are in any way familiar with Zelda games it can be rather short, but that probably has more to do with its portable nature rather than design. The overworld is a bit small, but filled with secret items and areas if explored further. So there is a great adventure filled with fun characters, great soundtrack and a sense of humor that puts it near the top of the series titles.
Buyer's Guide:Available on Game Boy, re-released in color for Game Boy Color and downloadable on the 3DS Virtual Channel for $5.99.
5 I stole the bow and never came back, bitch out of 5