Just weeks before launch, Nintendo brought a preview build of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening to Fan Expo Canada for players to try. I was fortunate enough to be there and give the demo a try!
The demo starts off just past the opening sequence of the game. After meeting Tarin and Marin, you head to the shore to retrieve your sword. From there, you’ll head to the forest for a magic mushroom that you’ll give to the witch in order to make a potion. If you’re fast enough, you can start the first dungeon, though the 15-minute demo will likely end before you’re able to complete it.
The game looks stunning in person. Its cutesy art style really comes to life in motion. With the slight blur applied to elements at the top of the screen, it’s almost like you’re watching Duplo people moving about.
I don’t remember much of what I played of the original, but I do remember the limitation of having two buttons on the Game Boy creating a lot of issues. You would have to constantly cycle in your shield, items, and other equipment to the one extra face button available. Thanks to the controller layout on the Switch, you’ve got quick access to your sword, shield, and other items and abilities at your fingertips. Funny how you take those things for granted nowadays.
Playing it felt like a classic top-down Zelda, with one minor exception. Really enjoyed the puzzle solving and the combat, particularly the few moments in the demo where you need to use your shield to move spiky blocks or parry enemy attacks. However, I couldn’t ignore the frame rate hiccups that occurred during my time.
Every time you transition from one scene to the next, the frame rate would take a dip. This would also occur when there was too much happening on screen. It is very uncharacteristic of Nintendo games to run this way, making me hopeful that this is just a quirk with the pre-release build I played.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening will be released worldwide on September 20th, 2019. Will be eying reviews like a hawk to see if the final game does ship with these frame rate issues. Fingers crossed that it won’t! Even if it doesn’t get addressed, the issues aren’t enough to stop me from buying this game at launch. Was really impressed with what I saw and I’m looking forward to finally exploring Koholint Island!
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