Link’s Awakening for the original Game Boy is one of the more intriguing games in the Legend of Zelda franchise. It was the first entry into the portable genre for the Legend of Zelda, and it brought mainstay features into the series, such as fishing. In a way, it helped establish the Game Boy during the early ’90s as a go-to system with the likes of Super Mario Land 1 and 2, Kirby’s Dream Land. However, Link’s Awakening director Takashi Tezuka reveals in the latest Iwata Asks interview that he felt the development team wasn’t making a “true” entry into the series. In fact, the words “Zelda game parody” were used by Tezuka.
Link’s Awakening originally started out as a side project where the development team would work on it when their other work was done. The original plan for the game was to be a Game Boy version of A Link to the Past (something I would have been all for as A Link to the Past is one of my favorite Zelda games). By the looks of it, Link’s Awakening became an unsanctioned “after-school” type project for the A Link to the Past developers. Once it became more than just after hours work and something they wanted to show, the developers got the permission they needed to keep the project going. With Link’s Awakening, Tezuka wanted something easy to understand as well as a deeper story and to rely more on character interaction. This Legend of Zelda could be someone’s first entry into the series, so it needed to be special as well as keep the players coming back for more!
The game has some of the more noteworthy material in it, such as Nintendo character cameos like Yoshi and Chain Chomp. The idea of the dreamlike atmosphere of Koholint Island played into character interaction as well. It’s interesting to see what has stayed in the Zelda franchise from Link’s Awakening, considering it started out as a side project for Zelda fans on the development team.