Nintendo closed out an announcement-packed Direct video event today by revealing that the Switch is getting another Zelda game. The publisher is remaking The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for its hybrid home-handheld console. Link’s Awakening debuted in 1993 for the Game Boy, and it has a loyal following who believe it ranks among the top entries in the series.
While the original Game Boy version features a rudimentary four-tone grayscale color scheme, Nintendo is giving the remake a complete overhaul. Link’s Awakening on the Switch is a visual successor to the excellent Nintendo 3DS game Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The world and characters are now 3D — although the camera maintains a top-down view. Link also looks more chibi and cute than ever before.
But this is unmistakably Link’s Awakening. As someone who has played this game over and over since I was 10, I recognize every shot in the trailer. Cutting the grass just by the shop and the claw-machine shop. Fighting moblins in the forest. Meeting the owl on the entrance to the forest. Nintendo has updated the original game in a way that looks incredibly faithful.
Handheld Zeldas live
But the remake of Link’s Awakening isn’t just a pleasant surprise because it updates a beloved classic. This is a sign from Nintendo that it doesn’t believe every game on the Switch has to be Breath of the Wild.
For decades, Nintendo had logical homes from “big” games and “small” games. It could spend years making a Breath of the Wild for Wii U and then Switch while also making A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS. But the Switch put that dichotomy into question.
Before releasing its latest system, Nintendo combined its home and handheld game-development teams. And since Nintendo has tried to position the Switch as a home device, it seemed possible that it wouldn’t want to continue making smaller games.
But the Link’s Awakening remake puts those doubts to bed. The handheld Zelda team is still alive and kicking, and it could be on the verge of releasing its biggest hit ever.