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Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening


The fourth game in The Legend of Zelda series, and the first on the Game Boy.

Following his defeat of Ganon in A Link To The Past and the Oracle games, the young hero Link left Hyrule to go on a Journey to Find Oneself and to train himself to prepare for future threats to Hyrule. After completing his travels, he sails homewards towards Hyrule when his boat is suddenly caught in a violent storm and struck by lightning. When he awakes, he finds himself shipwrecked on the shores of Koholint Island.

Link soon discovers that Koholint Island is the home of a creature known as the Wind Fish, and that as long as the Wind Fish slumbers it is impossible to leave the island. The only way to wake the Wind Fish is to gather and play the eight Instruments Of The Sirens hidden around Koholint, guarded by monsters known as Nightmares.

Link's Awakening returned to the straightforward 8-dungeon approach of the first game, but featured prominent story-developing sidequests in between dungeons. Notably, while previous games in the series had utilized Magic Music as a Warp Whistle, this was the first game to include more than one song, and make the songs actually important to the story.

Interestingly, according to Takashi Tezuka and Eiji Aonuma, David Lynch's Twin Peaks was apparently the main inspiration for this game.

This Game Provides Examples Of:

  • 100% Completion: If you want to get all of the pictures in the DX version you must steal from the shopkeeper, despite how much of a bad idea that is. Doing so forever stains your name, so in a sense a "pure" 100% of the game is impossible. There's also two pictures that are mutually exclusive.
  • All Just a Dream: In a twist on the trope, the dream nature is revealed about halfway into the story and presents it as a moral dilemma. Link can only escape Koholint by waking the Windfish, but in doing so he will erase the island and its inhabitants from existence. This adds a shade of doubt to whether or not Link and ,by extension the player, really is doing the right thing by continuing the quest.
  • Artifact Title: This is the only game in the series where the titular princess doesn't appear at all. She's briefly mentioned in the manual and at the beginning. Even in Majora's Mask she at least got a cameo.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Tarin, who turns into a raccoon. This may not be a full example, because Tarin remembers it as a dream and comments that "it sure was fun!"
  • Bee Afraid: During the Chain of Deals, you'll encounter Tarin, who wants to borrow the stick you acquired at the castle. He then uses it in an attempt to... knock a honeycomb out of a tree. Three guesses as to what happens next, and the first two don't count.
  • Big Bad: The Nightmare.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Link is finally off the island, but Koholint ceases to exist in reality and Link will never see Marin again (at least in the default ending).
  • Bonus Dungeon: The DX version has a color-themed dungeon. Completing it allows you to choose a colored tunic to increase either your offensive(red) or defensive(blue) power.
  • Book Ends: The game starts with Link waking up. The game ends with Link waking up.
  • Bowdlerize: They changed cross-shaped grave markers into "RIP" rounded-block gravestones. Also, the bikini top of the Mermaid became a... pearl necklace.
    • And another is the model Hippo in Animal Village who tells you to go away so the artist can paint her. Originally, she was a nude model (with visible breasts) with a towel which she pulls up when Link enters the studio.
  • But Thou Must: Played with in the DX version. The photographer won't take no for an answer when he asks if you want your picture taken. If you continually refuse, though, you'll get a picture of Link beaten up in front of the curtain.
  • The Cameo: Yoshi doll ("Lately, he's been showing up in a lot of games!"), a picture of Peach, a pet Chain Chompnote , Goombas, Piranha Plants, Thwomps, Dr. Wright, and an evil Kirby as enemies, Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2 appears as an NPC, along with Pokeys and Shyguys as additional enemies, and Richard from the Japan-only game For The Frog The Bell Tolls.
  • Cardboard Obstacle: The game loves throwing these at you, like blocking paths with stones... in areas that you can only get to if you can lift stones. And unlike in A Link to the Past, you have to actively equip a different inventory item for every bit of lifting, jumping, or dashing you do.
  • Chain of Deals: Starts with the Yoshi doll in the Trendy Game (which you need 10 rupees to play). A few places, it's actually required to proceed further in the game.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: By Ataru Cagiva, who later did a manga adaptation of A Link to the Past.
  • Continuity Cameo: DethI's various shapes resemble Agahnim, Molderm, and Ganon. (Although Molderm has already appeared in the game as the first dungeon boss.)
    • Marin is stated to look a lot like Zelda, only with red instead of blonde hair. Her father Tarin is dead ringer for Link's late uncle from LTTP.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • To A Link to the Past. Link is "cursed" by a crazy bat, a monkey helps Link get into a dungeon, Link gets Magic Powder from a witch after giving her mushrooms, and a few bosses from the previous game show up again.
    • Before Link awakens the Wind Fish, the owl says that he has shown his "wisdom, courage, and power."Explanation 
  • Cursed with Awesome: Awaken a bat (on loan from A Link to the Past) and he'll "curse" you, forcing you to carry twice as much magic powder/bombs/arrows. Oh no, anything but that!
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: See the entry for Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
  • Date My Avatar: Mr. Write's 'pen pal' mailing him her alleged photo which is actually a photo of Princess Peach. The 'pen pal' is actually an anthropomorphic goat.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If you steal from the shopkeeper, all that happens is you respawn in the town of the shop and are renamed THIEF. If you don't mind the name (or want to get 100% completion, in the DX version), all that happens is a minor inconvenience, making actually paying for your stuff rather pointless. This can be avoided by not returning to the shop after you've stolen from him.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Because, like everyone else he meets in the game, she was a dream. Alternatively, in the secret ending she turns into an angel/seagull and flies away, but for obvious reasons he still Does Not Get The Girl.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: If you steal an item from the Mabe Village shop, no matter how cheap, the shopkeeper kills you if you return.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The fifth dungeon's Dangerously Genre Savvy miniboss goes out of character and steals the dungeon's item from its chest. He then leaves a note behind, taunting Link to come and get it. Especially stupid since he'd already said, "Argh! I can't defeat you!" before giving up and running away.
  • Dream Apocalypse: The Ending. Easily the most well-known example of this trope.
    • The secret ending animation (unlocked by completing the game without dying) teases that the apocalypse may have been somewhat less than total, although it gives no indication of how or why this might be.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The way Link obtains the Ocarina.
  • Easter Egg
    • Entering "ZELDA" as the player's name on the file selection screen changes the music for that screen until it is exited (and only once unless it is entered again).
    • Kazumi Totaka worked on the soundtrack, and this time there are three versions programmed into the game, though one never plays in-game and the other required entering "Totakeke" (Totaka's nickname) as the player's name in the Japanese version using kana, after which it would play in the same manner as the other file selection screen Easter Egg; due to the writing system change this was Dummied Out in most international versions except for the German translation, whose script writer, Claude Moyse, added it back by making it play when his last name is entered in all caps as the player's name in that version.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Averted by Turtle Rock's boss, Hot Head. He lives in lava, attacks you with fire and is made of fire. You kill him by shooting fireballs at him.
  • Escort Mission: A large steel ball in the seventh dungeon. It's entirely possible to get the thing stuck in such a way that the game becomes Unwinnable. Also used when Link escorts Marin around the island, although she's invulnerable to damage.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a game about Link waking up
  • Exposition Fairy: The owl.
  • Expy: Tarin, the mushroom-obsessed man with a fabulous mustache who transforms into a tanuki? Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
    • Combined with his daughter Marin and the Cucco Keeper listed below, there's a double expy situation, although that could just be translation weirdness.
    • Mr. Write is a pretty obvious Expy of Dr. Wright from the SNES port of SimCity. His theme music is even the same.
    • The Cucco Keeper in Tal Tal Heights wears green and sports a thick mustache. Where have we seen this before?
  • Extreme Omnigoat: Christine in Animal Village eats the letters that Mr. Write sends her.
  • Fishing Minigame: First one of the series!
  • Friend to All Living Things: The residents of Animal Village adore Marin.
  • Funetik Aksent: Tarin.
  • Fetch Quest: One of the most extensive of the series.
  • Foreshadowing: Parodied. Papahl outright tells you at the start of the game that he'll get himself lost somewhere in the hills later on.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: It's possible to use the keys in the wrong order in the fourth and eighth dungeons...thus locking you in... forever.
    • Strangely enough, the third and eight dungeon actually have a security key for just that case (former in the very last puzzle before the boss and latter hidden in a statue you'd shoot with an arrow). The fourth dungeon however lacks one.
  • Genre Blindness: Despite being Dangerously Genre Savvy in battle (see below), the fifth dungeon's miniboss makes the mistake of stealing the dungeon's item, thus making it mandatory to find and kill him, no matter how much he flees. Had he not done this, he would probably have survived; the fourth room where you encounter him requires a great deal of backtracking to get to.
  • Giant Flyer: The Wind Fish, albeit with comically-undersized angel wings.
  • Guest Star Party Member: At certain points in the game, Bow-Wow the chain chomp, Marin, a ghost, and a flying blue rooster all accompany Link temporarily.
  • Guide Dang It: At one point, you have to throw a pot at a door to open it. At another point, you have to throw a pot at a chest to open it.
    • At another point you also have to shoot a statue with an arrow. Nowhere else in the game do you ever have to do this.
    • The game has comparatively few Pieces of Heart, only 12, but they are very well hidden. A couple are hidden behind (unmarked) bomb-able walls in otherwise inconspicuous caves, and one is hidden underwater in a dead end waterway, but not at the end as you might expect, in a random tile along the path.
    • The DX version includes more hints in the dungeons, including using pots on said door and chest.
  • Identical Stranger: Link, upon first meeting Marin, mistakes her for Princess Zelda.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Magic Rod, found in the 8th dungeon. It allows Link to fire projectiles at any HP that are twice as powerful as the LVL 2 Sword. On top of that, he doesn't even have to stop moving while swinging it (as opposed to the sword). Mooks catch on fire and die a slow, painful death. It goes without saying that this is a sadistically fun weapon too. It's also the only item in the entire series that can kill Cuccoos.
    • The Boomerang. You can only get it at the end of a sidequest spanning half of the game, but it is well worth it, being able to slaughter almost anything in the game, including otherwise unkillable Anti-Fairies and Sparks, and including the final boss, DethI.
  • Item Get: Link actually holds up Marin in this manner at one point.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: The game starts off this way.
  • Jump Physics: When using the feather.
    • Not Quite Flight: The Flying Rooster required to access the seventh dungeon can be picked up with the Power Bracelet to fly pretty much indefinitely, though he doesn't accompany you into the actual dungeon, and he leaves you after it's completed.
  • Lethal Joke Item: It wouldn't be a Zelda game without one of these, but this one has two:
    • The Shovel can be used against the Tennis Boss, Agahnim's Shadow, to reflect its shots.
    • In most games, the Boomerang can only stun most enemies, not damage them; it's still a good item, but it's virtually useless against bosses. Not here, though. Pretty much everything in the game dies in one hit to it, including the final boss.
  • Lost Forever:
    • Some secret seashells if you don't go to the mansion at the right times, and another one only accessible while you have the Flying Rooster. But there are more than enough to get the level 2 sword, even without those.
    • One-third of the photographs in the DX version.
    • Averted in the third dungeon; just before you enter the boss room, you can collect an extra key to access any side rooms you skipped along the way.
    • Steal from the infamous shop and your name is lost forever, as you get renamed to THIEF permanently.
  • Magic Music: Your Ocarina has special powers starting in this game. Also, your goal in the game is to collect magical instruments to play along with the Ocarina.
  • Meaningful Name: DethI. It's a giant eye monster that wants to kill you, and is also the "dying form" of the boss.
  • Metal Detector Puzzle: Explore the island with Bow-Wow before you return him, and he'll tell you the location of buried shells.
  • Mind Rape: This is what the Nightmares are essentially trying to do to the Wind Fish. By invading his mind and hijacking his dream world, they plan to control his mind. In response, the Wind Fish's spirit draws Link into the dream as a means of trying to protect himself.
  • Mini-Dungeon: Southern Face Shrine. It houses the Face Key that gives access to the northern Face Shrine (main dungeon).
    • The Moblin Cave and Kanalet Castle as well.
  • Minimalist Cast: Link and the Wind Fish are the only real characters in the entire game.
  • Mock Millionaire: Richard has a loose definition of "villa."
  • Multiple Endings: There's a bonus scene at the end of the credits if you manage to win without a game over.
  • Never Say "Die": "You k-k-k-beat my brothers!"
  • No Damage Run: Well, No Game Over Run anyways—this is required to get the best ending.
  • Not Always Evil: A friendly Zora can be found in Animal Village after obtaining the magnifying lens. Link can even get a picture taken with him in DX.
  • Oh, Crap: From the 5th dungeon on, the dungeon bosses panic when defeated, realizing that Link's coming closer and closer to awakening the Wind Fish and causing the aforementioned Dream Apocalypse. To say nothing of the Villainous Breakdown the Wind Fish's Nightmare has when it's defeated.
  • One-Hit Kill: Boomerang. Final Boss.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss pulls a mild version of this, in a last ditch effort to beat Link.
  • Only Shop in Town: Mabe Village only has one store. Confusingly, though, the crane-minigame building also has "SHOP" written on the roof in giant letters, but you can't actually buy anything there.
  • Ontological Mystery: Link presents this conundrum to the Mabe Village inhabitants. Since they never existed before the dream, they cannot answer questions such as "When did you come to live on the island?" or consider what's beyond the island, and any attempt to do so on their part results in a migraine.
  • Power Up Motif: The Piece of Power and Guardian Acorn work exactly this way; they change the background music for a short time, and when the song stops the powerup is over.
  • Recurring Riff: The Color Dungeon in DX uses the dungeon theme from the original Legend of Zelda game.
  • Regional Bonus: As mentioned above, the German translation re-added an Easter Egg that most other Western translations removed.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • Although it's a far more minor example compared to the boatloads of Sequence Breaking possible in the previous installment as well as the next installment (mostly due to the way dungeons are accessed in this installment), in Turtle Rock, there's a bombable wall on the other side of a small pool of lava. Using the bomb arrow trick allows Link to simply bomb said wall from across the lava (and thus from the opposite side of the wall from what the designers intended) and then equip the Roc's Feather and jump over the pool of lava from either side. The fact that this gives Link access to a few keys makes the dungeon much easier.
      • This blog post demonstrates it's possible to beat Turtle Rock with over half of the rooms not visited.
    • There's also a glitch in the original black and white version which allowed the player to "warp" from his current location to the exact same location—one screen away. Not only did this allow for a lot of extra exploration, but could occasionally lead to "Glitch Rooms" that contain later items, and allowed one to clear the second dungeon without either obtaining the power bracelet or beating the boss. Demonstrated most effectively in this Let's Play by MeccaPrime.
    • The speed boost provided by Pieces of Power can be used for several minor breaks - for example, getting one key in the third dungeon early, and dash-jumping over some gaps that normally require the Hookshot to cross. This allows you to learn the Frog's Song of Soul before clearing the third dungeon, when you're not supposed to have it until after the fifth (although you can't use it until halfway through the sixth).
    • The developers didn't think through the jump controls fully, as simply jumping on an angle allows you to bypass puzzles in a few dungeons, such as the fourth where a cross-shaped gap meant to only be crossed horizontally or vertically can be crossed any way with the right timing, allowing you to skip using a key to access the room from the other direction.
    • The shrine containing the key to the sixth dungeon and The Reveal can be reached as soon as you have the Pegasus Boots. The Bow is strongly recommended, but you can get it from the shop at any time, and, contrary to popular belief, it's not necessary - inactive Armos can be pushed with your shield, and the miniboss in the shrine can be killed with your sword. (Bombs are also effective against Armos.) You need the Flippers to access the sixth dungeon itself, but this still means that the fifth dungeon can be skipped (for a while, at least) if you use the Piece of Power trick mentioned above.
    • All dungeons but the first two can be cleared in any order - in general, all you need from each one to get to the next is the new item.
      • The exception is Turtle Rock, the final dungeon. All you need is the Hookshot from the fifth dungeon, and Tracy's special potion (and Frog Song of Soul). When you reach the flamethrower where the Level 2 Shield is required, just lose all hearts, and you're given a long stretch of invincibility to walk through the flames (the dungeon has a warp point, allowing you to head back to Tracy's for a refill). This renders both the Level 2 Bracelet and Shield useless, turns the Magic Rod into a late game breaker, and consequently renders pursuing seashells (and thus the Level 2 Sword) mostly useless.
  • Schizo Tech: Telephones, photography, and a crane game exist in a Medieval Stasis world.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: The island is nothing but one big dream, and the point of gathering the 8 dungeon items is to wake both you and the Wind Fish up. Link is oblivious to this since you aren't directly told that it's a dream until a good bit into the game, but the owl and boss monsters don't really try to hide this fact from you.
    • The owl has a monologue in-line with Schrödinger's theory when you find the relief that reveals everything to Link.
      "I see you have read the relief... While it does say the island is but a dream of the Wind Fish, no one is really sure... Just as you cannot know if a chest holds treasure until you open it, so you cannot tell if this is a dream until you awaken..."
      • The end does reveal that the owl, being an avatar of the Wind Fish, knew that the relief told the truth all along, and what he told Link was a Motivational Lie to ensure that he would continue and complete his quest.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The fifth dungeon's miniboss will flee from the battle after being hurt a few times... and does this two more times after you find him again.
    • The boss of the seventh dungeon first appears as a miniboss, but clears the scene once you k-k-k-beat his batty brothers.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Not the main plot, but a lot of the sidequests mean absolutely nothing in light of the ending.
  • Ship Tease: Link basically takes Marin on a date at one point in the game.
  • Shoplift and Die: "I wasn't kidding when I said pay! Now you'll pay the ultimate price!" *cue lightning, death, and being renamed THIEF
  • Shout-Out: There is a whole mess of Super Mario shout outs. See The Cameo, above.
  • Sssssnake Talk: The boss of the fifth dungeon talks like this.
  • Small Secluded World: Koholint Island.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sort of. The final boss has a pretty awesome theme, but when you reach his final form, the miniboss theme, of all things, begins to play.
  • Space-Filling Path: The route to a location less than a screen away is often surprisingly convoluted. Several puzzles in Turtle Rock also require you to trace out a space-filling path with a movable block.
  • Sky Whale: The Wind Fish.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru ("For the Frog the Bell Tolls") an earlier action-adventure game for the Game Boy. The main character from Kaeru, Richard, makes a cameo in Link's Awakening
  • Spoiler Title: In the US version, about two-thirds of the way through the game you make the (very unexpected) realization that the whole of Koholint Island is just a dream of the Wind Fish. Meanwhile, the Japanese version of the game's name is The Legend of Zelda: Dream Island. Well that certainly ruins the tension.
  • Tethercat Principle: The game ends with Link lost in the middle of the ocean on a single plank of wood with no food or fresh water. This incarnation of Link has never appeared in another game after this one and we don't know what happens to him afterwards. But then, maybe it's not so bad; there are seagulls flying about, and they never stray too far from land.
  • Trick Arrow: Equipping both the bow and the bombs allows Link to fire a bomb arrow.
  • Unique Enemy: Almost every enemy found in the DX version's Color Dungeon is found nowhere else, but among them there is only one each of the blue variants of the Camo Goblin and Karakoro.
  • Unwinnable by Design: DownPlayed. If you play the DX version on a regular Game Boy, the Color Dungeon is almost impossible to solve.
  • Updated Re-release: A Game Boy Color-enhanced version was later released as Link's Awakening DX. Sadly a victim to Bowdlerize, see above.
    • Now downloadable on the 3DS.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Unusual for a Zelda game, you can kill Cuccos and dogs with a certain weapon acquired late in the game, or earlier with a limited item that does a similar thing.
    • You can kill them with the magic powder, too. The difference is that that weapon lets you do it from a distance.
      • The friendly Zora in Animal Village can be killed just like any enemy, though not with the sword.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you attack the dog, it attacks you. And if you attack a Cucco too many times, it summons up a whole host of its buddies to attack you. However, unlike the other games in the series, you can stop a Cucco attack by using the magic rod or magic powder on the original Cucco. The Cucco will burn to death and the other Cuccos will stop attacking you.
  • Video Game Settings:
  • Villainous Breakdown: DethI, the final Nightmare, when it's defeated. "This island is going to disappear... Our world is going to disappear... Our world..."
  • V Sign: Link does one for his first picture in DX. And it looks adorable.
  • Whale Egg: It's rather self-explanatory. Seriously, it's part of the plot... It IS the plot.
  • Wham Episode: The Face Shrine. You learn that the island is the Wind Fish's dream, and that by waking it up, the island and everyone on it will disappear.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: People will call you "THIEF" instead of the name you chose for Link if you steal from the shop in Mabe Village. And if you ever return to the shop...
    • Partial solution: Name your character THIEF to begin with.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Wind Fish speaks it.
  • You Bastard:

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alternative title(s): Links Awakening; The Legend Of Zelda Links Awakening; The Legend Of Zelda Links Awakening DX
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