Link’s Awakening was something new and unique in the Zelda series back in 1993 when it was released. Besides not being set in Hyrule which was a first in the franchise, one of the most interesting additions to this game was the number of character cameos from other Nintendo titles, mostly Super Mario Bros. Most of those characters were old enemies of the Mushroom Kingdom, although there were a few that were here to help Link on this quest.
As this was the first time that Link had to battle in a foreign land, with no telepathic help from princess Zelda, or anyone else from Hyrule he knew, it was interesting seeing our hero in green (or rather black and white, considering the color capabilities of the original Game Boy) interact with creatures of all kinds from, how else to describe it, another universe.
So, are you willing to take a few minutes of your time to see how many different Nintendo characters had their first (and for some, only) cameo appearance in this sequel of Nintendo’s popular game series?
One of the first two characters that Link encounters upon waking up on Koholint Island is Tarin. It’s possible that one might not catch his resemblance to Mario from the Super Mario franchise at first. However his love for eating mushrooms is a further hint, not to mention the fact that at one point in the game he transforms into a raccoon (one of the main power-ups in Super Mario Bros. 3 is a raccoon costume) is more than a mere coincidence.
Thought not his first appearance in a Zelda game as his kind had its first cameo as enemies in A Link to the Past, in this game Bow-Wow is Link’s ally. He’s a pet of one of the NPCs and Link must take him to a walk to forward the plot of the game. Bow-Wow is essentially a Chain Chomp from Super Mario Bros. 3. Here Bow-Wow represents a dog, with the chain part being his leash.
Mask-Mimics are essentially Shy Guys from Super Mario games who have become obstacles in this chapter of Link’s story. They are a lot harder to deal with in this game than in Super Mario Bros. 2.
After retiring from the position of the main antagonist in Super Mario Bros. 2, Mamu (known as Wart in the Western versions of the Mario game) is now on Koholint Island and will help Link on his quest by teaching him a song that is necessary if Link is to make progress in his quest to wake the Wind Fish. But one must stop and think about the fact that the stories of both Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Bros. 2 are set in a dream world. Coincidence?
- Boo Buddy
Previously featured as Boo Diddley in Super Mario Bros. 3 and renamed to Boo Buddy in Super Mario World, the name was not changed for Link’s Awakening. Their behavior is a bit different from Mario games, and they seem invulnerable at first. But after shedding some light on that mystery, they’re not so tough at all.
Richard is a character from a Japanese-only GameBoy title Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (meaning “For the Frog the Bell Tolls”), which was the origin of the Link’s Awakening engine. On Koholint Island he’s a noble who was kicked out of his home, Kanalet Castle, by his servants and is forced to live in a small house. He is willing to help Link, but asks for a favor first. The music played in Richard’s Villa is a remix of his original theme from the Japanese title, and the frogs leaping around are a reference to his game as well.
- Hot Head
Originally from the Japanese NES game Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panikku and more famously known outside of Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2, Fryguy changes his name to Hot Head and becomes an intimidating boss that threatens to stop Link on his quest to awaken the Wind Fish.
A very recognizable character. They were called simply “Kirby” in the Japanese release of the game, and their attack is the Kirby’s trademark move: they will suck up and then spit out Link causing damage. But they should be careful of what Link can feed them.
- Christine (on picture)
Christine is a goat from Animal Village who is interested in another character who makes a cameo appearance, Mr. Write. They have a long-distance relationship that keeps going because Mr. Write believes that she’s a beautiful woman. At one point, Link delivers a letter from her to Mr. Write and with the letter a photo of who Mr. Write believes is Christine, but is actually Princess Peach from the Super Mario series.
- Mr. Write
Mr. Write is a man who lives alone in the Mysterious Woods and sends countless letters to people, never receiving a reply. He receives a reply from Christine and falls in love with her, deceived by the photo of a beautiful woman he is led to believe is Christine. He comes from the Nintendo version of the game SimCity where he was named Dr. Wright, and in that game he was named after the SimCity creator Will Wright. The music that plays when Link enters his house is his theme music from SimCity.
- Sea Urchin
One of the first kinds of enemy Link bumps into on his quest to wake the Wind Fish is the Sea Urchin. They don’t attack at all, though they will damage Link if he touches them. They bear a resemblance to urchins from Super Mario as well as a type of enemy from Kirby games called the Gordo. Either way, they crashed Link’s party here to make his quest a bit more difficult.
Another Mario’s classic foe. But for all the stress they might have put you through in Super Mario games, you can pay them back here as they’re easily dealt with using Link’s weaponry.
What would all these Mario-based cameos be without the good old Goombas? Besides from being weak to any kind of weapon Link may use to defeat them, their basic weakness from the Super Mario series applies here as well. With the first appearance of Roc’s Feather being in Link’s Awakening, I think everyone knows how to deal with them.
Yet another Mario enemy. Podoboos are fireballs that jump out of the lava in side-scrolling sections of Link’s Awakening. They’re basically invulnerable and it’s best to avoid them completely.
Originally from Super Mario Bros. 3, they try to squash Link by falling from the ceilings at high speeds. With a dash, they can easily be outrun.
- Thwomp and Spiked ThwompLarger cousin of Thwimp, also from Super Mario Bros. 3. More dangerous, too. Thwomp can be disabled by charging at it when it’s down, and it’s not a smart move to just walk under it.
We seen these desert-dwellers first in Super Mario Bros. 2, and the battle tactics haven’t changed. Link has advantage over Mario and friends though, since Link has a sword. Being the cactus-related creatures, they are encountered only in Yarna Desert.
- Piranha Plant
Another party crasher from Super Mario games, Piranha Plant is encountered only in the side-scrolling sections of Link’s Awakening, along with a few other Super Mario enemies, making the side-scrolling sections a kind of a tribute to the Mario franchise.
Yes, yes, another enemy from Super Mario Bros. 2. I guess these guys really have something against our heroes. They move around the edges of a room or around pots and blocks and will hurt Link only if he touches them. While seemingly invincible, two of Link’s wepons will easily make them disappear, and one of those weapons will even turn them into faeries, thus turning a sword-immune enemy into a health station.
- Yoshi (doll)
“Recently, he seems to be showing up in many games!” says Link after obtaining this doll. Yes, unfortunately, it is just a doll based on the cute little dinosaur. But don’t let that discourage you – obatining it is the first and most important step in a sequence of events that bring Link to an item without which he would never be able to complete his main quest in this adventure!
Bombites are essentially Bob-ombs from Super Mario games, with ealtered behaviour. There are two kinds of these enemies: red and green. In the original B&W version of Link’s Awakening, due to the lack of color, they can be distinguished by their appearance – though similar, the two types of Bombites have differences in appearance and in their behaviour, too. Green ones will grin their teeth and will start a countdown to self-destruction upon being hit by a sword, following Link around until they detonate. The red ones will start bouncing off walls after receiving a direct hit, moving faster and faster and resulting in a detonation. There is another, safe way, to detonate these guys, but I will leave that up to you.
Cheep-Cheeps are very familiar in appearance to all those players who had nightmares from the water levels in the original Super Mario Bros. Just as they’re vulnerable to Mario’s jump attack, they are certainly equally as vulnerable to Link’s sword. Thus they are not much of a threat, as long as you just don’t run into them.
- Spiked Beetle
The last entry in this list of party crashers, Spiked Beetles are very similar to the Super Mario Bros. enemy, Spiny. They move about in random patterns, but after seeing Link they will charge at him trying to hurt him with their spikes. When dealing with them, “defense is the best offense”.
Some of these characters and enemies appeared in later Zelda games, mostly handheld ones. Due to them having the same game engine, sprites, and design guidelines, both Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages share most if not all of the characters from other games that had their Zelda debute in Link’s Awakening. So, in a way, Link’s Awakening started a sort of tradition, that later even passed on to a home console title, Four Swords Adventures.
Although character cameos have been very scarce in the recent Zelda titles, we do hope to see their revival in the games to come. How about you?