Can Link’s Awakening be a trend-setter for future Nintendo remakes?

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening remake

The remake announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening earlier this year lit a fuse that collectively blew the minds of fans across the world. It wasn’t just another Zelda game that grabbed the spotlight. This Zelda game was a remake of a Game Boy classic. It’s a rare phenomenon for a remake of a game to shoot past several generations to be adapted for modern audiences. Of course, I say this just as Pokémon Yellow received its own remake of sorts with last year’s Pokémon Let’s Go games for Nintendo Switch.

Are these recent games the first attempts Nintendo ever made at remaking an older title? Absolutely not. Star Fox 64 was essentially a remake of its SNES predecessor. Yet the swirling excitement over the Link’s Awakening remake makes me wonder if the title could set a new precedent for future remakes of Nintendo’s old titles. The current response to the next Zelda Switch game almost demands it.

This feels different

Link's Awakening

Despite the existence of previous Nintendo remakes, something about Link’s Awakening feels different. Initially, it was difficult to put my finger on it. When the Pokémon Let’s Go games launched, they looked exactly like we’d expect aesthetically. The games were simply adapted from the famous anime art style we already knew from the franchise. They were practically a video game rendering of the world in the animated show.

The update for Link’s Awakening, however, received a bit of its own personality. The bubbly, play-set style theme surrounding the game is unique and provides a new visual presentation of the classic game. A Link Between Worlds also adapted Link’s world from an SNES classic, A Link to the Past. But even there, that game looked exactly how one would expect with a modern facelift. So, at face value, this already distinguishes the Link’s Awakening remake from its Game Boy origins.

The upcoming remake also offers players the chance to create their own dungeons. With the striking popularity of games like the recent Super Mario Maker 2, this addition to the overall experience makes complete sense. In fact, it offers another layer to the game and adds to the thrill and excitement for fans of the classic. I, for one, am excited to see how this feature shapes out.

It is important to clarify that the dungeon editor feature isn’t as detailed and intricate as Super Mario Maker. But it’s enough to alter the shape of the Link’s Awakening experience.

Creating new experiences in familiar territory

Link's Awakening remake dungeon-builder

Extensions of the game, like the new dungeon editor, and bold new choices in visual design are enough to make a remake feel less like a remake and more like it holds its own identity. In a world where remakes across all gaming platforms have seen a surge in popularity, Link’s Awakening could potentially set a new precedent for future remakes from Nintendo.

It’s all too easy to imagine classic Nintendo games that might be more obscure to some – EarthboundKid Icarus, Pilotwings, etc. – benefiting from a revamped feel and visual design in a modernized remake. Even a Mario game could be remade in the same vein. Super Mario Bros. 3 is still one of the franchise’s most popular titles. Imagine a remake that takes a completely different artistic direction than what we’ve seen countless times in the New Super Mario Bros. games.

It’s easy to see the excitement and hype surrounding the Link’s Awakening remake within the gaming community. The probability is high that if Nintendo extends the same sort of treatment to remakes in the future, they can easily tap into this level of excitement again. Nintendo fans are passionate and loyal. Nothing will make fans lose their minds like seeing a beloved classic title offering the perfect blend of new and familiar experiences.

Chris Hinton
Accountant by day, video games enthusiast by night.  Somewhere in between all of that, I'm a husband, dad, and generally a giant man-child, too.  If a game is all about action, there's a safe bet I'm playing it.  I started laying waste to virtual worlds as a youngin' on the ol' Atari and haven't stopped since.