Nintendo rivals Disney in its ability to repackage our past and sell it back to us in a way that makes fans feel thankful instead of ripped off, and that’s the tension I felt while watching the trailer to the upcoming remake of Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I’ve since made peace with the fact that this looks like an amazing way to re-introduce a game that many modern Zelda fans may not have ever played.
The original 1993 Game Boy game looked wonderful, even at the time, showcasing what Nintendo could do within the limitations of a 160-by-144 resolution that could only show variations of a single color. It was always an attractive game. The game’s original trailer was also done using puppets, which helped highlight the somewhat bizarre logic of the game itself.
The remake was announced earlier this year with its own strong trailer, but today’s E3 trailer focused much more on the visuals of the game itself, and they’re a delight. Several people in the Polygon offices — myself included — incorrectly assumed at first that we were watching Animal Crossing footage, but the stylized, somewhat goofy aesthetic is such a good match for Link’s Awakening that it just feels … right.
The addition of tools to make my own dungeons is nice and all, but it’s icing. The real pleasure here comes from Nintendo rescuing one of its best games and updating the visuals in a way that hints at the original — and even seemingly winks at other Nintendo games — while also establishing its own unique personality. The tilt-shifted nature of the visuals makes it seem as if the player is interacting with a tiny, toy-like version of the world, which only makes the whole thing seem more playful and lighthearted.
Those of us who have played the original know what we’re in for, and what we’re in for is a great Legend of Zelda game, but fans who may have been too young to play the original on a Game Boy are going to get to experience a classic with visuals that already fit the tone of the game in a way that seems effortless.
Which usually means that it took a ridiculous amount of work, but the results speak for themselves. This is something I didn’t even realize I wanted until I saw it in action in an extended way today, but now it feels like something I can’t live without.
Which means I’m going to be buying yet another Nintendo game for the second time, and I’m ridiculously excited about it. It turns out Nintendo is very, very good at this.
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