SEA BEARS FOAM, SLEEP BEARS DREAMS. BOTH END IN THE SAME WAY—CRASSSH!
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 Siren 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 Peakswas 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.
All Just a Dream: But whose dream? That's the real question. And thanks to the very last scene, after Link wakes up we see the Windfish in the sky, and Marin as an angel/seagull if you never died, so was it all really a dream?
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 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!"
Bittersweet Ending: Link is finally free, but defeating the final boss and awakening the Wind Fish means destroying all the people you've met along the way (at least in the default ending). Alternatively....
Bonus Dungeon: The DX version has a color-themed dungeon. Completing it allows you to choose a colored tunic to increase either your offensive or defensive 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.
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.
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. Justified in that Koholint seems to be borrowing from Link's memories.
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 named THIEF. If you don't mind the name (or want to get 100% completion), 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.
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.
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.
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 Un Winnable. Also used when Link escorts Marin around the island, although she's invulnerable to damage.
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.
The game has comparatively few Heart Containers, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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-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 Letdown: The Guardian Acorn, and by extension the Blue Tunic in DX. Since the minimum damage Link takes from anything is 1/2 of a heart, instead of 1/4 of a heart as in other games, the damage reduction from those items won't actually reduce anything from most enemies.
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.
Recycled Soundtrack: The underground/cave music is reused for the first 4 dungeons of the game, in varying levels of reworking/remixing.
Regional Bonus: As mentioned above, the German translation re-added an Easter Egg that most other Western translations removed.
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 developer's 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.
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 late in 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..."
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.
Shout-Out: if you find a chest with 20 rupees inside of it, the game will tell you "you found 20 rupees! JOY!" "JOY!" was one of Stimpy's catch phrases in Ren and Stimpy, which was airing at the time of the game's release. Similarly, the "Burn it!" in the text seen upon obtaining the Magic Rod may be a reference to Beavis And Butthead.
Doubles as a shout out to Disco Inferno ("Burn, Baby! BURN!")
Refusing to give the bananas to Kiki the monkey will cause him to start yelling for "Chi-kita!"
And there is a whole mess of Super Mario shout outs. See The Cameo, above.
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.
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.
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.