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Nightmare Fuel / The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

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The fate of all those who faced Moldorm.

Prior to The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, there was one game that pioneered the Zeldaverse in portable form. Its name is The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

The game's mission was bringing the refined gameplay from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on portables, but back then nobody could possibly predict it would have brought the series' well-known-by-now scare factor as well.

  • When the true nature of Koholint is revealed. The player is faced with a Morton's Fork. Do they proceed knowing the consequences of their actions? Or stop just before the final boss? The meaning of the cryptic owl statues is unraveled. If Link does not escape the deity's dream, he'll age away and die of natural causes. As bad as that sounds, there's no guarantee he'll even pass on, as there are ghosts on the island. The hero will linger in this world for all eternity as a spirit.
    • And if Link's spirit is trapped in this world for eternity, will he be able to reincarnate? When Ganon returns in the first game, will a Link rise to meet him? Or will he return unopposed?
  • The game ends with a Dream Apocalypse: you've just erased Koholint Island from existence, alongside Tarin, the villagers, the animals don't exist anymore, Bow-Wow the Chain Chomp, none of which exist anymore. Unless you get to unlock the borderline achievable special ending, even Marin is among the casualties.
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  • The southern Face Shrine as a whole is pretty disturbing for an 8-bit Zelda game, with the eerie fresco, the apocalyptic messages, and the somber music. It's also where the island's dark secret is discovered.
  • Catfish's Maw just as you've dealt the final blow to its boss. This is the first boss that speaks to Link about the true nature of the island, accompanied by some very foreboding and sinister music. This can be very unnerving for a first-time player. That its tail is exposed revealing that it consists of multiple hearts, while the music still plays, does not help.
  • Key Cavern's BGM starts a bit too loud, which can make the moment you enter the dungeon pretty unnerving the first time around.
  • The shopkeeper has one rule of thumb: Shoplift and Die. You actually can get away with stealing: after getting out of the shop fine, the game goes, "You got it for free! Are you proud of yourself?", then a few hours later you forget all about it. The problem is, the shopkeeper didn't forget: he is just standing there before he - no kidding - delivers a One-Hit Kill with a lightning attack if you happen to access the shop again.
    • Which means that if you're trying for the best ending, once you steal from him you can never return to the shop again, THIEF.
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    • There's something rather shady-looking about the shopkeeper. He has a creepy perpetual smile the entire time (even just before he kills you), and is always rubbing his hands in a methodical way. It's almost as if he's waiting for someone to shoplift from him, just so he'll have an excuse to kill someone.
    • Recently, this secret has been shown off in the HD remake and it is arguably more unsettling than the original. For starters, the shopkeeper had a constant Slasher Smile on his face that never changed. Here, he has a joyous, beaming grin on his face right up until he says "Now you'll pay the ultimate price!", at that point he looks furious. Also, it is ambiguous as to what exactly he did to Link in the original due to the lack of graphics, as he could have just shot him with a weapon. Here? He surrounds himself with electricity and blasts Link with his hands, Palpatine style. Finally, after Link keels over, he just... stands there, his big, dopey grin back on, looking very satisfied that he just fried a child. The new Game Over screen fading to sepia as everything freezes still like a horror movie is the cherry on top of it all.
  • If you get knocked off the edge of the arena by the first boss, you won't just respawn with half a heart missing like in the rest of the game, oh no. You'll find yourself in some kind of execution chamber with skeletons hanging by chains from the ceiling.
  • Dodongo snakes, an enemy unique to this game. They don't even attack you, but their shiny black ball-like design, their lack of any facial features but a gaping, grinning mouth and the fact that super-frantic music starts playing whenever you face them is more than a little unnerving.
  • The final battle with the Nightmares takes on an extra edge when you realize they're using the shape of Link's personal nightmares to fight back. This implies the battles with Agahnim and Ganon in A Link to the Past had such an impact on you that deep down, you're still scared of them. And the Nightmares are exploiting that fear to defeat you. What's more, when you get to the final form, the Nightmares lose all shape and reason (though what Nightmares ARE reasonable?) and turn into the Lovecraftian mass known as DethI (pronounced "Death Eye"), wildly swinging in some vain hope of taking you down.
  • The player is left with an existential nightmare after completing the game. When Koholint Island suffers a Dream Apocalypse, all are the characters of this magical world not just dead? But worse? Erased from existence? An Apocalypse How "Z" class? Or will they be Reincarnated somehow? Do they live on in an alternate reality? Do they survive in Link's memories in the waking world? Or were they never real to begin with?
  • Near the end of the game, the monsters start to hit with a harrowing thought: If you wake up the wind fish and end the dream with you in you die with them?
  • The Wind Fish's Egg may not be a traditional, enemy-infested final dungeon, but what it lacks in action, it makes up for with an unsettling atmosphere. A whole bunch of small identical rooms, completely empty, that lead into each other, with no clear path through, accompanied by one of the most minimalistic and unsettling tracks ever produced on a 4-bit soundchip


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