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

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A dream come true!

"Sleepers wake, dreams will fade...
Although we cling fast.
Was it real, what we saw?
I believe..."
— Ballad of the Wind Fish

The fourth game in The Legend of Zelda series, released worldwide in 1993, and the first on the Game Boy.

Following the defeat of Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link left Hyrule to go on a Journey to Find Oneself and train in preparation for any future threats to Hyrule. After completing his travels, which were implicitly the events of the Oracle games, he began sailing back towards Hyrule. However, while sailing back, his boat was suddenly caught in a violent storm and struck by lightning. When he awoke, he discovered that he had been shipwrecked on the shores of Koholint, an island home to a giant egg that rests upon its mountain's peak.

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 within his egg, 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. And so Link begins a new quest to defeat the Nightmares and return to Hyrule. But he may soon discover that everything isn't quite as it seems...


Link's Awakening is a significant game in the series' history. While it returned to the straightforward eight-dungeon approach of the first game, it also introduced a number of features and ideas that would become staples of the series. These include the trend of prominent story-developing sidequests that occur between dungeons, the addition of an Exposition Fairy that periodically nudges players in the right direction, and a wide cast of side characters. Additionally, while previous games had utilized Magic Music as a Warp Whistle, this was the first game to include more than one playable song and make these songs vital to the plot, one that was heavily inspired by David Lynch's Twin Peaks. On a more trivial note, it's also the first Legend of Zelda game not to feature the titular princess in any capacity, something that wouldn't happen again until Tri Force Heroes twenty-two years later.


This was also the first Zelda game to be overtly character-driven, again influenced by the dev team's love of Twin Peaks. Previous games in the series were very minimal in terms of characterization, choosing to instead focus more on the action-adventure element. Link's Awakening deviated from this by focusing on a memorable cast of characters with distinct personalities, crafting an emotionally-driven story based around these characters. As a result, the game had a profound impact on future installments of the series, building upon the foundation introduced here.

Five years after its initial release, the game received an Updated Re-release on the Game Boy Color, titled Link's Awakening DX. This version featured modest additions and improvements, mainly in the form of the new color graphics, a brand-new dungeon that took advantage of them, and a photography sidequest that came in conjunction with Game Boy Printer functionality. A remake for the Nintendo Switch co-developed by Grezzo, which includes a brand-new dungeon-creation mode among other improvements, was released on September 20, 2019. In November, 2021 a Game & Watch would release which contained The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and the original Game Boy version of this game.

This game takes place in the "Hero Defeated" timeline, after A Link to the Past and before The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It is also linked to the Oracle games, which use the same engine and many of the same assets, but their exact connection to this game is inconsistent Depending on the Writer.note 

This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Possible, but with a price. If you want to get all of the pictures in the DX version, you must steal from the Town Tool Shop, even though this will permanently rename you "THIEF" and the shopkeeper will kill you if you come back. If you want to get the game's Secret Expanded Epilogue — which can only be achieved with by never dying once — with 100%, the only item you should steal is the Bow, which can't be obtained anywhere else.note  There are also two pictures in DX that are mutually exclusive, one for just agreeing to let the cameraman take your picture and another for declining several times. Since the Switch remake cuts the photo album entirely, it's possible to collect everything in the game (including a larger count of Heart Pieces and Secret Seashells) without stealing from the shop.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: The game loves this, 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. Fortunately, the 2019 remake has changed lifting to be a standard action assigned to the A button, with the Power Bracelets as passive upgrades instead of an active item.
  • Absurdly Short Level: The Wind Fish's Egg only has the maze you complete in a few seconds before you face the final boss. Assuming you know the correct pattern, anyway, or else you'll be trapped in an Unnaturally Looping Location.
  • Adapted Out: Even though the Switch remake includes DX's Color Dungeon, it doesn't maintain the photo album sidequest, replacing the camera shop with Dampé's house. The one remnant of the sidequest is a hidden cutscene with Marin.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Switch remake fleshes out the minigames that were minor parts of the original game, including the Trendy Game (now a full physics-based claw game), the fishing spot (more fish to catch and multiple lures), and the raft-riding game (which now uses the Hookshot and has an additional time trial mode). They also provide more rewards.
  • Alien Geometries: One section of the Face Shrine ends in a doorway leading up to what appears to be outside of the dungeon's map. Going through the door puts Link two rooms down from where he was, and going back down leads to the room that the player would expect to be there instead. There is also a stairway leading out of the dungeon up to an island in the river rapids area, but overlaying the dungeon with the overworld map show they don't line up at all.
  • 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 Wind Fish, 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. The 1994 manga version by Ataru Caviga leans in especially hard on this angle, as Link there suffers a serious crisis of conscience over the idea of effectively murdering Marin and Tarin, who he's come to befriend and possibly even love in Marin's case, for the sake of his own convenience.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Several have been added to the Switch remake.
    • Enemies with shields can now be staggered, making fighting them slightly less tedious.
    • A Goponga Flower in front of the Bottle Grotto has been replaced by a rock, so that you can get in after taking BowWow home but before getting the Hookshot.note 
    • Thanks to the Switch's higher button count, several items are now set to dedicated buttons, rather than having to be equipped to one of the two item buttons. The sword is permanently set to the B button, and the shield is permanently set to the right trigger. Lifting items has been assigned to the A button, and the Power Bracelets simply increase Link's strength passively, which means some light objects can be lifted without the bracelets. The Pegasus Boots have been assigned to the left trigger, which makes dash jumping much easier.
    • The annoying messages for heavy objects and dash attack crystals no longer pop up every time you touch them, only when you interact with them. Similarly, the long messages from picking up the Compass take much less time, since they've been reformatted to take up less space and pop up more quickly. Keys only show their message when found in chests, instead of every single time.
    • Fairies can be stored in bottles now, allowing Link to carry up to four full health recovery items with him. They no longer revive him automatically, however, likely to prevent the Secret Medicine from becoming useless (why pay 42 Rupees when there's a fairy hidden in the tree behind Marin's house?).
    • More warp spaces have been added, and stepping on one lets the player choose where to go, rather than warping between them in a specific order. Manbo's Mambo also lets the player choose where to warp now, rather than only warping to Crazy Tracy's shop. Most helpfully of all, there's a warp space right next to the Seashell Mansion.
    • The Seashell Sensor allows the player to find Secret Seashells much more easily. It functions similarly to the Stone/Shard of Agony, getting stronger as Link moves closer to one.
    • The Seashell that required the Flying Rooster to get can now be acquired with the Hookshot as well, meaning it's no longer Permanently Missable Content.
    • The Seashell Mansion now gives rewards when you have at least the number of shells required, rather than requiring the exact number. There are also more shells, which sounds like the opposite of this at first, except there are also more rewards to go with them (including the above-mentioned detector). Shells you haven't collected before acquiring the Koholint Sword also don't turn into Rupees, so between these two changes there are no more permanently missable Seashells or Mansion rewards.
    • More Heart Containers have been added, increasing Link's maximum health from 14 to 20. This can make a lot of the later game ever so slightly less difficult. Conversely, it's now possible to leave a boss room without collecting its Heart Container, so people looking for a greater challenge can go for a three-heart run as in later games.
    • Money is more easily found in larger amounts, with blue Rupees (worth 5) dropping more frequently from grass and enemies. There are also more and easier methods for grinding for money, like the Chamber Dungeon.
    • The Chamber Dungeon seems to have been carefully constructed with this in mind. There will always be the same number of keys as locked doors; you'll always find keys first, until you have enough for every lock; the last chest you open will always be the Nightmare Key to open the boss door; locked doors can't be placed in a way that will make them impossible to open; if there are more chests than keys, the remainder will have Rupees in them.
    • Doors that require a pot to be thrown at them now have a unique design that has a pot embossed on it, making it more obvious what you're supposed to do with them.
    • Damage can be reduced as low as a quarter heart now, instead of half a heart; this means that Damage Over Time effects take longer to whittle you down.
    • Markers can be added to the map, similar to Breath of the Wild. Additionally, a Memories feature has been added, allowing the player to read previous conversations and see what items have already been collected.
    • You can now use the Hookshot during the River Rapids Raft Ride to move quickly across the water. Additionally, it's timed and there are new rewards for beating it.
    • The Bonus Boss of the Color Dungeon regenerates more slowly and Shows Damage more readily, with cracks forming on his shell as you damage him along with his color changing.
    • After trading an item to the invisible Goriya at the end of the Chain of Deals, the item you traded can be purchased back for 300 Rupees. There are also enough slots on the inventory to include all items including the Boomerang.
    • After getting the Pegasus Boots, health can be more easily restored by dashing into apple trees and eating the fruit. Previously, this was a point in the game where the game briefly ramped up in difficulty, thanks to the stronger enemies that started showing up more frequently.
    • The returning mini-bosses in Turtle Rock no longer respawn, except for the Dodongo Snakes (since they're not scripted as mini-bosses in this version; they're part of a puzzle that involves defeating them in a specific manner).
  • Anti-Grinding:
    • The Color Dungeon has a hidden room filled with blue Rupees. If you return to the dungeon after clearing it, the Rupees don't respawn. In the Switch version, the corresponding Chamber Dungeon tile only has green Rupees.
    • Also in the Switch version, the figurine-collecting sidequest is linked to the bosses you've defeated, preventing you from simply getting them all at the start after you've got a hang of the Trendy Game.
  • The Artifact:
    • In the Switch version, Marin can still pick up the Trendy Gamester, even though with the revamped controls it shouldn't be possible to move the crane down.
    • The Color Dungeon suffers a bit from this in the Switch version; its color-based theme was much more relevant twenty years before, when handheld systems being able to display in full color was still a novelty (DX came out one month after the Game Boy Color itself did) and being able to do so without draining half a dozen batteries in under four hours, like the Game Gear was infamous for, was a selling point. What's more is that the entire dungeon was reworked to be more accessible to colorblind players, the result being that enemies, traps, and puzzles being color-coded is no longer relevant to finishing it with the new visual cues in place. The skeletons guarding the entrance don't even bother with the Excuse Question of who's wearing which color, and instead are repurposed to sell you Magic Powder.
  • Artifact Title: This is the first game in the series where the titular princess doesn't appear at all. She's briefly mentioned in the manual and at the beginning, where Link mistakes Marin for her.
  • Artistic Age: Link and Marin are supposed to be teenagers, but the sprites used make them look like kids. This extends to the remake with its cute Super-Deformed art-style.
  • Art Shift: In the remake, the cute cartoony plastic model look of the rest of the game is temporarily shifted in the intro to anime-style 2D animation with a Link that matches his design in the Oracle games and the old promo art for Link to the Past. The drastic difference in styles between Koholint and the outside world is a good indicator of the secret behind the island. The ending, naturally, shifts back to this when Link awakens, and the true ending gives us a glimpse of Marin in this style.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Magic Rod. Easily one of the best weapons in the game, faster than the boomerang (another Awesome weapon) and just as powerful, essentially one-shotting almost anything besides bosses. Unfortunately by that point in the game, there's barely anyone worth using it on, aside from the Hot Head and literally one phase of the Final Boss (and you don't even need it for that!). Even using the game's various glitches to get it early only makes it slightly more practical, since it kills about half the regular enemies in the game in one shot... and does absolutely nothing to the other half (not even just bosses, mini or otherwise, either). It does kill some otherwise Invincible Minor Mook enemies, but this is probably too little, too late for most. It's nerfed in the Switch remake on top of that.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Justified. Link lost all his stuff in the shipwreck, and is only able to retrieve his sword and his shield.
    • This is also done at the end of the game: if you grabbed a tunic from the Color Dungeon, it switches back to green, and Link notes in the manga adaptation that his upgraded sword reverted back to its initial form. This is also justified, since the island is just a dream, so anything he earned there would naturally disappear when it ends.
  • Battle Boomerang: You can get one by trading your shovel to a Goriya. Among other things, it can one-shot the final boss's last form.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Tabahl Wasteland and the cemetery are full of Ghinis and continually appearing zombies.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Goombas in the Switch remake have a unique design including thick, bushy eyebrows that put even their more familiar designs to shame.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • In the DX version, the photograph of Link stealing from the Town Tool Shop shows that the shop's walls have two signs written in Japanese. The sign on the left says "Shoplifting prevention" and the one on the right says "shoplifting is a crime."
    • The Switch version of the Phone Booth theme has singers chanting "Den-Den-Den, Den-Den-Den, Den-Wa". "Denwa" is Japanese for phone.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Link succeeds in slaying all the Nightmares and awakens the Wind Fish. However, all of Koholint Island is erased so that Link and the Wind Fish can return to reality. Depending on the ending, though, if you don't die at all, Marin is reincarnated as a seagull. Link is also stuck alone at sea on nothing but driftwood, though he doesn't seem too fussed about it after he sees the Wind Fish fly by.
  • Bleak Level: Face Shrine. Link is fresh off of the realization that the island will disappear if he completes his quest to wake the Wind Fish and the music, particularly in the remake, portrays his conflicted feelings on the matter. The nightmares in the second half in the game also plead with Link not to go through with it.
  • Bombardier Mook:
    • In Toronbo Shores, there's a monkey that sits in a palm tree and throws coconuts down at you. If you hang around for long enough, it will throw a bomb as well.
    • Zirros resemble flying mushrooms attack exclusively by spitting bombs at Link. They normally stay well above Link's head, dipping down only to deliver a payload, and will retreat if Link approaches them, making dealing with them tricky.
  • 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. The Switch remake also features the dungeon.
  • Bookends:
    • The game starts with Link waking up. The game ends with Link waking up.
    • In the remake, the first and last Nintendo figures you can find are the CiaoCiao and BowWow respectively, both Chain Chomps, and both are placed in Madame MeowMeow's home.
  • Boss Remix: In the remake, the Ballad of the Wind Fish gets a Dark Reprise during the final phase of the Final Boss.
  • Boss Subtitles: The remake flashes the name of the dungeon end-bosses when you confront them for the first time. Oddly enough, this does not apply to any of the mini-bosses nor any form of the Final Boss.
  • Bowdlerise: Most releases outside Japan, with the exception of French and German versions of the original, have some implied nudity censored:
    • The Mermaid's lost pearl necklace was originally a bikini top, and diving near her makes her call the player a pervert rather than tell them she's already searched the area. This is why the narrator uses an awkward stutter when you find it. The Switch version goes with the necklace in every region (understandably, given the update to full 3D models), and her reasoning for swimming away when you dive next to her is simply to keep you from taking a scale before you retrieve the necklace.
    • There's a 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; the censored version removes the breasts and towel, hiding the nudity by making her an Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal. The Switch remake splits the difference, replacing the towel with a more modest dress while retaining her prominent bust.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Goponga Swamp is a marshy area full of piranhas and large swamp flowers. Bottle Grotto is found here, but Link needs to take BowWow with him to destroy those flowers that block the entrance for his first visit (later items he finds can destroy the flowers without assistance). The Switch remakes replaces a single flower with a rock, so that the player can get back in after giving back BowWow but before getting the other items.
  • But Thou Must!:
  • Call of the Wild Blue Yonder: Marin wishes she was a seagull so she could fly off the island and sing to various people. If you finish the game without dying, she gets her wish.
  • The Cameo: The game features a considerable number of cameos from other Nintendo games, most prominently the Mario series, including a Yoshi doll ("Recently, he seems to be showing up in many games!", or, in the remake, "You can't count how many games you've seen him in now!"), a picture of Peach, a pet Chain Chompnote , and a whole gaggle of Super Mario Bros. enemies like Goombas and Piranha Plants (along with an evil Kirby). Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2, Dr. Wright from SimCity, and Richard from the Japan-only game For the Frog the Bell Tolls all appear as NPCs. The last one is fitting, as both games run on the same engine.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Marin calls her father Tarin by his given name.
  • The Catfish: Aside from the Catfish's Maw dungeon (which is indeed gotten to by swimming into a catfish-shaped door), the Switch remake has "Ol' Baron", a massive blue fish that can be caught at the fishing hole. It's longer than Link is tall, awards him with a chamber stone the first time it's caught and nets him over 100 rupees (in contrast to most of the smaller fish which award him somewhere in the 10-30 range).
  • Catfishing: During the Chain of Deals, an anthropomorphic goat named Christine asks Link to deliver a letter to Mr. Write. But the photo included in the letter is of Princess Peach, one of many Mario-verse cameos in the game. Mr. Write thinks she's beautiful as a result, and happily starts composing his response. He never finds out the truth.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Angler's Tunnel is initially hidden behind a waterfall. Unlocking the dungeon parts the falls, and getting to the dungeon requires jumping down from a watery area in the Tal Tal Mountains.
  • Chain of Deals: The first in the series, in fact. Starts with the Yoshi doll in the Trendy Game (which you need ten rupees to play). A few places, it's actually required to proceed further in the game — you at the very least need to go through six of the fourteen items in the chain, the bananas (number four) so monkeys will build a bridge for you, and then the honeycomb (number six) to give to the chef in Animal Village, who will tell you how to wake up a walrus blocking your path into the nearby desert. You don't strictly need to complete the chain, but doing so gives you the magnifying glass, allowing you to read the books in the library, which includes the path you need to follow in the final dungeon. If you know the secret in advance, the lens isn't required.
  • Challenge Run: Try beating the game without dying once.note  Doing so will alter the ending sequence depending on the version, with all of them implying that Marin somehow escaped the Wind Fish's dream and got her wish of being able to fly like a seagull.
  • Clamshell Currency: The Secret Seashells, which are turned in at the Seashell Manor for rewards.
  • Clown-Car Grave: The zombie enemies, which appear in Tabahl Wasteland and the graveyard, continually come out of the ground in various spots.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: By Ataru Cagiva, who later did a manga adaptation of A Link to the Past.
  • Company Cross References:
    • Several Super Mario Bros. enemies, including Goombas, Pokeys, Piranha Plants and Thwomps, as well as Kirby, make cameo appearances in this game as enemies. Cheep Cheeps and Bloopers from the Mario series also appear in the fishing pond in the Switch remake, while they appear in underwater side-scrolling segments in all releases, and Madame MeowMeow's pets are Chain Chomps as well.
    • Mamu, the frog who teaches you Frog's Song of Soul, is Wart — also called Mamu in Japanese — the villain from Super Mario Bros. 2 (another game set in a Dream Land, notably enough).
    • Obtaining the Slime Key, which unlocks Key Cavern, requires obtaining Gold Leaves. The quest to retrieve the leaves is given to Link by Prince Richard from For the Frog the Bell Tolls. Much like his game of origin, his villa in this game contains several frogs.
    • The Switch remake adds a figurine-collecting sidequest, with the figurines being obtained from the Trendy Game. The figurines depict Mario characters (plus CiaoCiao and BowWow, the Chain Chomps at Madame MeowMeow's house) and are placed in various houses in Mabe Village.
  • The Computer Shall Taunt You: In the remake, if you fall into the pits Facade creates while fighting him, he'll laugh at you. Hinoxes in the remake will also laugh at you if they manage to grab you, and the Grim Creeper will laugh at you if you miss any of the bats he summons.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • To A Link to the Past. Link is "cursed" by an imp, 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," referring to the otherwise-absent Triforce.
    • The Shadow Nightmares' various shapes resemble Agahnim, Moldorm, and Ganon (although Moldorm previously appears as the first dungeon boss). In the remake, the Ganon shadow makes a noise similar to the Link to the Past boss damage sound effect when hit.
    • Marin is stated to look a lot like Zelda, only with red instead of blonde hair. Her father Tarin is a dead ringer for Link's late uncle from A Link to the Past. In turn, Malon and Talon from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are these to Marin and Tarin, and Zelda's sprite when she appears in the Oracle games is almost identical to Marin's.
  • Contrasting Sequel Setting: The first three games take place in a medieval fantasy world, but this game broke tradition by taking place on a Denser and Wackier tropical island filled with Mario cameos.
  • Creator Thumbprint: As the original game's sound engine was programmed by Kazumi Totaka, his song can be found here. Twice no less! The first method is to wait in Richard's house for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The second method, which is only accessible in the Japanese versions, is done by entering "とたけけ" ("Totakeke", Totaka's nickname) on the file select screen.note  Though Totaka had no involvement with the Switch remake, both of these instances are retained, and the increased character limit means "Totakeke" works in non-Japanese versions as well. This makes it the first time the song has appeared without his involvement.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Awaken Li'l Devil (on loan from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past) and he'll "curse" you, forcing you to carry twice as much magic powder, bombs or arrows. Oh no, anything but that!
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • In some of the other Zelda games, as well as the Switch remake of this game, getting the Power Bracelet gives you the passive ability to push and lift heavy objects. But in the Game Boy releases of Link's Awakening, you have to manually assign the Power Bracelet to one of your equipment slots before you can push and lift heavy objects.
    • This is also the first game to introduce manual use of the shield to block projectiles and attacks whereas the previous games had passive blocking. The Switch remake keeps manual blocking, but keeps the shield permanently equipped to a shoulder button, like most Zelda titles since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Unfortunately, the remake assigns the shield to the right shoulder button, while most other games in the series since the Nintendo 64 versions Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask (which had the Z Trigger, instead) assign the shield to the left shoulder.
    • Unlike in practically every other Zelda game, bottled fairies in the Switch remake do not Auto-Revive you, most likely to avoid making the original game's revival item, Secret Medicine, completely redundant.
  • Dark Reprise: The Ancient Ruins' music is an eerie rearrangement of the Ballad of the Wind Fish. Fitting for the location where you learn the truth of the island. The Ballad is also quoted in a minor-key variation in the song that plays inside the Wind Fish's egg.
  • Death Mountain: Tal Tal Mountain Range, a mountainous region in the northernmost part of Koholint. It's one of the largest areas in the game, containing many cave systems and the final two main dungeons. It's also connected to Mt. Tamaranch, which is where the Wind Fish's Egg rests.
  • Degraded Boss: In the Chamber Dungeon mode of the Switch version, it's possible to earn chambers that let you put main Nightmare bosses in as minibosses.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: In the Switch remake, you can use most items in the diagonal directions (including the Bow and the Hookshot), but you can't run with the Pegasus Boots in the diagonal directions like in A Link Between Worlds. This is most likely to prevent the sequence breaks that were common in the latter game.
  • Denser and Wackier: The game features much more humor, absurdism, and metatextual references than the prior games in the series.
  • Developers' Foresight: When Marin temporarily joins Link, you're just supposed to take her to the Animal Village and awaken the walrus. In the meantime, many characters will comment on her following you, and there are several hidden scenes with her that a player would have to go out of their way to trigger, such as if you try to look through someone's drawers, use the Shovel to dig up the ground, or visit the Trendy Game with her. She even has unique dialogue and behavior if you try to enter a dungeon with her (she stays behind, and has different comments depending on how many hearts you have left when you exit).
  • Disc-One Nuke: The sidequest that unlocks the Boomerang can be finished as soon as you get the Hookshot in the fifth dungeon, giving you access to one of the most powerful weapons in the game. In particular, the final boss's last phase goes down in one hit to the Boomerang in the original and DX versions.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: If you steal an item from the Town Tool Shop in Mabe Village, no matter how cheap, the shopkeeper kills you if you return.
  • Divine Birds: Birds feature prominently in Koholint Island's imagery. In addition to the actual Owl, who is revealed to be an avatar for the Wind Fish, sporadic owl statues provide hints, implied to be from the subconscious mind of the Wind Fish itself. The Flying Rooster is treated as a legendary creature and has mystical aspects, seagulls are often seen along the beach (and Marin becomes one, in the true ending), and the Switch remake has a statue of a Loftwing in the Trendy Game.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The fifth dungeon's 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.
  • Double-Meaning Title:
    • The game's title can either refer to the fact Link woke up on an island, or the ending of the game, with Link awakening the Wind Fish from its slumber.
    • Same goes for the Japanese title, "The Dreaming Island"; it can refer to how the island is home to the dreaming Wind Fish, and how the island itself is the Wind Fish's dream.
  • Down the Drain: Angler's Tunnel is the water dungeon of the game. Most rooms have water, and some areas, items, and puzzles are inaccessible until Link obtains the flippers, which are obtained in the dungeon and are required to swim. Oddly, the Catfish's Maw isn't a case of this, despite being found in a lake and requiring the flippers from the prior dungeon to access.
  • Dream Apocalypse: The ending features the entire island disappearing. 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: In the Dream Shrine, Link climbs into a bed and goes to sleep to claim the Ocarina. It doesn't appear to be this at first, but you later find out that Koholint Island itself is a dream.
  • Dreams vs. Nightmares: Given that the game is All Just a Dream, this is the case with the game's conflict. The various townsfolk and NPCs who help Link out (especially Marin) fulfill the role of the dreams, whereas the monsters who oppose Link are the Nightmares. For that matter, the bosses are even called "Nightmares".
  • Dub Name Change: A few in the original releases, mostly relating to the Mario cameo enemies; for instance, Shy Guys are called Mask-Mimics and Spinies are called Spiked Beetles. These were reverted in the Switch release, along with a few additional name changes to the original characters (like Rolling Bones to Spike Roller, and Mad Batter to Li'l Devil). Bow Wow's Japanese name is Wanwan, which is also the Japanese name for any Chain Chomp; the distinction between the two is an invention of the English script.
  • 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). In the French DX version, the same result occurs when "LOLO" is entered.
    • Kazumi Totaka worked on the soundtrack, and this time there are three versions of Totaka's Song 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 original and DX versions except for the German DX translation, whose script writer, Claude Moyse, added it back in by making it play when his last name is entered in all caps as the player's name in that version. The third instance can be heard by waiting for two and a half minutes in Prince Richard's villa.
    • In addition to reinstating the "TOTAKEKE" egg in the international versions, the Switch remake adds an extra file select tune; entering "MARIN" will play a Wii Shop Channel-style arrangement of Ballad of the Wind Fish.
  • Edge Gravity: A variation. If Link steps over the border between a solid tile and a falling hazard (holes and water), he'll start slipping towards the hole, but be able to struggle back to solid ground. The further over the hazard, the harder it is to get back. Using the Roc's Feather during the slip will make getting back easier. Taking advantage of this allowed a lot of Sequence Breaking in the original, but it was tightened up for the DX Updated Re Release to fix an Unintentionally Unwinnable flaw.
  • Electricity Knocks You Out: The game starts with a lightning bolt knocking Link unconscious and destroying his ship, leaving him stranded on an uncharted island.
  • Endgame+: In the Switch version, completing the figurine collection requires a figurine (BowWow) that only appears at the Trendy Game after defeating the Shadow Nightmares.
  • 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 Unintentionally Unwinnable. Also used when Link escorts Marin around the island, although she's invulnerable to damage.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: The monsters make life on the island for its residents a literal nightmare. The only way to stop them is to wake the Wind Fish, which causes a Dream Apocalypse that destroys Koholint Island because it is the Wind Fish's dream. In this game, the monsters are the evil and Link represents oblivion.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a game about Link waking up.
  • Expy:
  • Fetch Quest: After obtaining the Yoshi Doll from the Trendy Game, it starts a sequence of trades that results in Link obtaining the Magnifying Lens, which is required to read the Mabe Village library's initially unreadable book.
  • Fishing Minigame: For the first time in the series, Link can take a break from adventuring and go fishing north of Mabe Village. There are only two varieties of fish, large and small; the Switch remake adds Cheep-Cheeps and Bloopers from the Mario games, alongside the large and very rare Ol' Baron.
  • Fishing for Sole: In the Switch remake, an empty bottle can be fished up in the Fishing Minigame. This isn't as useless as it seems, since it allows you to bottle fairies; bottles are much harder to find in this game than the typical Zelda game.
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Game-Breaking Bug: It's possible to use the keys in the wrong order in the fourth dungeon... thus locking you in... forever. Strangely enough, the third and eighth dungeons actually have a security key for just that case (the former in the very last puzzle before the boss and the latter hidden in a statue you'd shoot with an arrow). The fourth dungeon, however, lacks one.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the original German version, the Cukemen say, "Give me your juice, I'll give you mine..." and "Never without a condom!". The game was first released before the German Entertainment Software Self-Regulating Body was formed, and as a result, these lines were changed for the later DX release.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Numerous Secret Seashells are hidden around Koholint Island — 26 in the Game Boy releases, and 50 in the Switch remake. Obtaining the Koholint Sword requires 20 in the Game Boy versions and 40 in the Switch remake, and the Switch remake adds new rewards for collection milestones. In the Switch remake, the Seashell Sensor can be obtained from the Seashell Mansion, and it indicates when a shell's location is onscreen.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: At certain points in the game, BowWow the chain chomp, Marin, a ghost, and a flying blue rooster all accompany Link temporarily. The ghost is more a nuisance, though, since he won't allow you to go into any future dungeons until you do what he wants.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • At more than one point, you have to throw a pot at a door to open it. Fixed somewhat in the Switch remake. Doors that require pot-throws will have the same color as and a carving of a pot on them.
    • At another point, you have to throw a pot at a chest to open it. At least this one has a nearby owl statue to give you a hint.
    • 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. There is an actual arrow painted on the ground, but good luck figuring it out even with that clue. At least it's optional.
    • The original 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; it's in a random tile along the path. Yet another is inside a fish for some reason. The Switch remake increases the Piece of Heart total to 32, but the bombable walls hiding existing ones are easier to spot, and the underwater ones are somewhat visible, due to the water being transparent.
    • A puzzle in the second dungeon requires you to kill three enemies in a specific order to reveal a key required to progress. There is a hint earlier in the level which refers to the enemies by name, but the enemies' names are nowhere in the game or the manual. The only way you might know them is from the manuals of previous Zelda games on different consoles that you might not even own (though the first enemy to kill being described as "imprisoned" helps narrow it down), and without context you can't even identify what puzzle the hint refers to, let alone the solution. The remake adds the descriptor "skeletal" to the other enemy the hint mentions, making the intended solution more obvious.
    • There are no hints given for filling out the photo album in DX, so finding all twelve photos can be time-consuming. Of the ones that aren't permanently missable, the toughest one is probably "Link Discovers Ulrira's Secret", which only triggers by standing in front of the window at Ulrira's house, itself a screen you're unlikely to visit more than once or twice.
    • In the remake, getting one of the seashells requires playing the Ballad of the Wind Fish near where the sleeping walrus was. Even with the Seashell Sensor tipping you off that there's something in the area, that's not likely to be high on the list of things to try.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The original versions of Link's Awakening are considered to have some of the easiest bosses in the series, with ones like Angler Fish, Facade, and Hot Head being possible to defeat while barely moving. The Switch version gave most of them a difficulty increase, but they still aren't particularly strong. Meanwhile, the dungeons follow a straight difficulty curve and have pretty tricky puzzles and enemies near the end.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Koholint Sword, obtained with twenty Secret Seashells in the Game Boy versions and forty in the Switch remake, is more powerful than the sword Link starts out with and can shoot beams at full health, but it's outdone by the Magic Rod in the original versions (less so in the remake where the Magic Rod is weaker).
  • 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 Koholint 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 one of exactly two items in the entire series (the other being the Magic Powder in the same game) that can kill Cuccos. The Switch remake pares it down to just a handy utility weapon.
  • Island of Mystery: Koholint Island, full stop. Link reaches it entirely by accident, it's full of weird things, bizarre people and creatures, there are hidden ancient ruins, its geography is surprisingly varied for such a small island, and the whole place is shrouded in mystery. That is, until it's revealed that it's actually just a dream.
  • Item Get!: As usual, Link holds newly obtained items above his head. Link actually holds up Marin in this manner at one point.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: Eagle's Tower, the second-to-last main dungeon, is one of only two dungeons with multiple floorsnote . To reach the boss at the top of the tower, Link has to break pillars to shift some of the floors downwards.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: The game starts off this way, with Link venturing out to sea for training. Once he gets stuck on the Closed Circle of Koholint Island, his priority changes to getting off of it, while still going through some self-discovery.
  • Jump Physics: After obtaining Roc's Feather, it can be used to jump freely. Due to the inclusion of side-scrolling areas, some portions of the game resemble 2D platformers.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Falling in the lava in Turtle Rock deals as much damage as falling in the water before you gained the flippers.
  • Lethal Joke Item: It wouldn't be a Zelda game without one of these, but this one has a few:
    • The Shovel can be used against the Tennis Boss, Agahnim's Shadow, to reflect its shots. This references a similar use for the bug-catching net in A Link to the Past.
    • 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 in the original and DX versions.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Turtle Rock features lava pools in large portions of the dungeon, though the lava is much less "lethal" than most examples.
  • Lighter and Softer: Zigzagged. The game, especially the remake, is a lot more cartoony, colorful, humor- and slapstick-heavy, and has wackier character designs than most of the other games in the series, but the latter part of the story, especially the revelation that the island and its inhabitants are just a dream and the ending, is among the darkest in the series.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: A bolt of lighting strikes Link's ship during the intro, which may be the catalyst that transports him into the Wind Fish's dream.
  • Lost in Translation: The Face Shrine features many large stone elephant statues as obstacles. In Japanese, the words for "stone elephant" (石象) and "stone statue" (石像) are both pronounced "sekizō" (せきぞう). Since the text in the original and DX versions were written in kana, this allowed the writers to naturally work the Pun into the script. The Switch remake kept the word in kana to preserve the pun despite being able to display kanji.
  • The Lost Woods: Mysterious Woods, one of the game's first areas. It has Moblins, thick grass, and a wily raccoon, and Link can collect mushrooms there to create Magic Powder.
  • 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.
  • The Maze: The Wind Fish's Egg has a maze-like interior. The directions are hidden in an initially unreadable book in Mabe Village's library, which can be deciphered with the Magnifying Lens.
  • Metal Detector Puzzle: Explore the island with BowWow before you return him, and he'll tell you the location of buried shells. In the Switch remake, you can get the Seashell Sensor as one of the new prizes from the Seashell Mansion, which does this for you permanently.
  • 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:
    • The Ancient Ruins south to the sixth dungeon, the Face Shrine, which consist of a desert section full of Armos and a small shrine containing an Armos Knight mini-boss. It guards the Face Key that gives access to the northern Face Shrine, and an inscription on the back wall of the shrine spells out the true nature of Koholint Island.
    • The Moblin Cave and Kanalet Castle precede Bottle Grotto and Key Cavern, respectively, with both containing a mini-boss. The Moblin Cave is where BowWow is being held captive (and he can chew up the flowers in front of Bottle Grotto), while Richard will only let you into his backyard to get the Slime Key once you collect the Golden Leaves from Kanalet Castle.
  • Money for Nothing: If you steal from the Town Tool Shop, all that happens is that your save file is renamed THIEF upon exiting the store. If you don't mind the name, this is just a minor inconvenience, making actually paying for your stuff rather pointless. Actual death can be avoided simply by not returning to the shop after you've stolen from him. Though if you want to avoid death and get the Golden Ending, this means you must not steal anything before the bow.
  • Money Sink: The Switch version adds seven Chamber Stones to the Town Tool Shop for 1,280 rupees apiece. They can be stolen, of course, but only the last one can be safely stolen to get the Golden Ending, still requiring 7,680 rupees for the first six.
  • Musical Nod: Several to previous Zelda games, as well as a few to other Nintendo games.
  • My Name Is ???: In the Switch remake, the pile of bones in Yarna Desert that hints to the location of a Piece of Heart if Link sprinkles Magic Powder on it is called "???" in the dialogue box.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the Switch remake, some previously unnamed characters from the original game now have names, such as the quadruplets (Suhni, Lattie, Kidoh, and Joonya).
  • Nerf:
    • The Boomerang in the Switch remake, whist still powerful compared to other Zelda games, can no longer One-Hit Kill most enemies. This includes the final form of the final boss, although it's easier to register hits on him with it now.
    • The Magic Rod was made weaker in the remake, firing a slower fireball projectile that can't kill tough enemies like Vires in one hit. This makes Hot Head harder to defeat, since the Magic Rod can't stunlock him as well.
    • In the Switch remake, Guardian Acorns and Pieces of Power have a limited duration, rather than lasting indefinitely until Link is hit too many times.
  • Never Say "Die": Parodied in the Game Boy versions after defeating the bats the Grim Creeper summons: "You dirty rat! You k-k-k...beat my brothers!" Played straighter in the Switch version, where he instead says: "You lousy so-and-so! Those creeps were some of my best friends!"
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: Some of the sprites, sound effects, and font, as well as the game engine itself, are borrowed from For the Frog the Bell Tolls. Prince Richard, the rival of that game's main character, appears as a supporting character in this one.
  • Noob Bridge: The first mission in the game is to retrieve Link's lost sword. Along the way, the player will encounter some Sea Urchins that they need to push out of the way in order to reach their destination. While pushing obstacles is not a new mechanic, pushing things with the shield, let alone pushing enemies that look like traps, is new at this point in the series. The game doesn't explicitly tell the player to do this, but rather has them piece together two different clues encountered just earlier: the tutorial in the library that teaches them how to push enemies with the shield (which could be easily missed) and the sign that warns them to not touch the Sea Urchins with their bare hands.
  • Noob Cave: The first dungeon, Tail Cave, is a basic, no-frills dungeon, meant to help players get used to the game's mechanics. The boss is also taken from A Link to the Past, being based on that game's version of Moldorm, instead of being a new enemy.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • The third dungeon, Key Cavern, is a brick building, not a cave. This may be a mistranslation; it's called "Key Cellar" in Japanese and French and "Devil's Mansion" in German.
    • The song "Tal Tal Heights" plays while in the Tal Tal Mountain Range, not Tal Tal Heights (which uses the regular overworld theme).
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Inertia: The game ends with Link waking up on a floating plank of wood, still stranded in the ocean after his ship was destroyed in the opening scene. Presumably, he was clinging onto it unconscious during the Wind Fish's dream.
  • Oh, Crap!: From the fifth dungeon on, the dungeon bosses panic when defeated, realizing that Link's coming closer and closer to awakening the Wind Fish and causing a Dream Apocalypse. This culminates in a Villainous Breakdown that the Wind Fish's Nightmare has when it's defeated.
  • One-Hit Kill: In the original and DX versions, the Boomerang instantly defeats the last form of the final boss. It's weaker in the Switch version, and while it still does decent damage, the Bow is quicker at taking it out.
  • Only Shop in Town: Mabe Village only has one store, the Town Tool Shop. Confusingly, though, the crane-minigame building also has "SHOP" written on the roof in giant letters in both the original and DX releases, 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.
  • Palmtree Panic: Toronbo Shores is a beach filled with palm trees, one holding a monkey that throws coconuts at you. It's also where Link's sword ended up after he ended up on Koholint Island, so going there is the first mission in the game.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • In the Game Boy versions, some of the twenty-six Secret Seashells are lost if you don't go to the mansion at the right times, and another one is only accessible while you have the Flying Rooster. But there are more than enough to get the Koholint Sword, even without those. In the Switch remake, there is no time limit on the Secret Seashells, of which there are now fifty — completely different rewards are given for milestones, and the one that originally required the Flying Rooster can now be obtained with the Hookshot.
    • One-third of the photographs in the DX version have a time limit. If they aren't taken at the right time, restarting the game is the only way to get them.
    • 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 Town Tool Shop and your name is lost forever, as you get renamed to THIEF permanently.
    • The only way to get the bow is to buy or steal it from the Town Tool Shop, and if you steal an item, the shopkeeper will kill you if you return. This means that if you steal something other than the bow before buying it, the bow is lost forever — unless you're willing to die to regain access to the shop, in which case the secret ending is lost forever.
    • In the DX version, beating the Color Dungeon and switching your tunic to red or blue means that the original green tunic is permanently lost on that file; you can clear the dungeon again to switch to the other color, but not green. This was changed in the Switch version.
  • Platonic Cave: Koholint Island, including all its inhabitants. They all only exist in the Wind Fish's dream, which will cease to exist should Link (the only real person on it) wake up the Wind Fish to escape. Everything on Koholint has its own stories and is as real to Link as anything else, making the Dream Apocalypse all the more upsetting.
  • 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.
  • Purposely Overpowered: The Boomerang, which is only found at the end of a long trading sidequest, kills most tough enemies and the final boss's last form in one hit, a far cry from the other Zelda games in which it merely stuns enemies. Even in the Switch remake, in which its power is nerfed somewhat, it remains an incredibly useful weapon that defeats enemies in just a few throws and stunlocks them in the process.
  • This Is Reality: Reconstructed. Indeed, Koholint Island turns out to be no more than a dream of the Wind Fish, who states that all dreams ultimately must come to an end. Link awakens him and the island completely disappears along with its inhabitants; when he comes to in the real world and muses whether his adventures were only a dream, he notices and smiles at the sight of the Wind Fish in the sky, realising he not only helped him awaken from his dream, but the emotions and memories he experienced during his adventures were also real.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • The Ballad of the Wind Fish shows up often in the soundtrack, such as the Game Over theme and the song for the Ancient Ruins.
    • The cave theme and the first few dungeon themes are all based around the same ascending scale, though the trend is eventually broken by the Catfish's Maw.
  • Regional Bonus:
    • The German translation of the black and white version features a unique song if "MOYSE" (the translator's last name) is entered at the file select screen. This song does not appear in any other version of the game, but while the DX version drops this song, it re-adds the option to hear a unique version of Totaka's Song on the file select screen, which all other Western Game Boy releases removed. Whereas the Japanese releases require the character's name to be entered as "とたけけ" ("Totakeke"), the German DX version features this song for the name "MOYSE" instead of the black and white version's unique song.
    • The French translation of the black and white version features a unique song if "LOLO" is entered at the file select screen. This song does not appear in any other version of the game, and was removed in the DX version; entering "LOLO" produces the same result as entering "ZELDA" (playing a remix of the series theme) in the English translation.
  • Retraux: The Switch remake's soundtrack includes elements of chiptune, usually taken directly from the original hardware, to complement the live reorchestration of the original soundtrack.
    • This is most notable with the ensemble performance of Ballad of the Wind Fish played near the end of the game, which is split 50/50 between real and 8-bit instruments.
    • At the end of the rendition of the Tal Tal Heights theme, before it loops, some parts of the instrumentation, such as the bassline for that segment and the chiming triangle, are taken from the original 8-bit version of the song, despite otherwise using modern instrumentation.
    • The Face Shrine's theme starts with mostly just dramatic strings, but at about 50 seconds in, it interweaves the original chiptune into the mix.
    • The dramatic beat that plays during the cutscene before fighting Evil Eagle starts off as the original version before morphing into something more in line with the rest of the game.
    • While most of the credits music is orchestral, one portion of it is cribbed directly from the original 8-bit version of the song.
    • A good chunk of the music in dungeons also retains pieces from the original score.
  • Roc Birds: The Roc itself never appears, but the Roc's Feather shows up as an item that allows the otherwise ground-bound Link to jump.
  • Sarcastic Well Wishing: If Link succeeds in stealing something from the store, the game itself calls you out on it: "Guess what? You got it for free. Are you proud of yourself?"
  • Savage Setpiece: The cuccos as always, attack them with the sword and they swarm you until you leave the area or die. Downplayed with the dogs, they only attack once in reprisal and deal a small amount of damage.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: During the Chain of Deals, you'll encounter Tarin, who wants to borrow the stick you acquired at the castle. When he does, an angry swarm promptly flies out of the beehive and chases him away, leaving you to pick up the dropped honeycomb.
  • Schizo Tech: Telephones, photography, an electric organ, and a crane game exist in a Medieval Stasis world. Sure it's a dream, but that just means that Link or the Wind Fish has to have encountered the ideas somewhere.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly:
    • The island is nothing but one big dream, and the point of gathering the eight dungeon items is to awaken both you and the Wind Fish. 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.
      Owl: 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.
  • Sea Hurtchin: Sea urchins to block paths in Toronbo Shores. While they deal damage to Link on mere contact, they can easily be defeated with a sword.
  • Secret Expanded Epilogue: There's a bonus scene at the end of the credits if you manage to win without getting a Game Over.
  • Segmented Serpent: Moldorm and Lanmola retain their many-jointed appearances from earlier games. Additionally, Pincers, enemies that pop out of holes to attack you, are a particularly odd example in that their segments aren't actually connected — there's a very noticeable gap between each free-floating sphere. Slime Eel is a much larger segmented beast; its weak spot is the segment right behind its head.
  • 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.
    • There's also a glitch in the original black and white version which allowed the player to "warp" from their 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 Ancient Ruins containing the key to the sixth dungeon and Koholint's truth can be reached as soon as the third dungeon is complete and you have the Pegasus Boots. The Bow is strongly recommended in the Game Boy releases (Spin Attacks work better in the Switch remake), but you can get it from the Town Tool 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 and the Hookshot 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's Song of Soul to open it). 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 in the Switch version, 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 Koholint Sword) mostly useless. This is no longer possible in the remake where the flamethrower has collision even during Mercy Invincibility.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Not the main plot, but a lot of the sidequests mean absolutely nothing in light of the ending.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Yarna Desert, a small dry region close to Animal Village that is initially blocked off by a sleeping walrus. Once Link moves it away with the help of Marin, he can travel through it to slay a Lanmola for the Angler Key.
  • Shoplift and Die: It's possible to steal from the Town Tool Shop when the shopkeeper isn't watching the door, but he catches Link if he returns to the shop. As it turns out, the punishment for shoplifting is death by electrocution.
    "I wasn't kidding when I said pay! Now you'll pay the ultimate price!" *cue lightning and death*
  • Shout-Out:
    • There is a whole mess of Super Mario Bros. shout outs, including the presence of Goombas, Piranha Plants, Boos, and Shy Guys as enemies.
    • The website for the Switch remake refers to Tail Cave's mini-boss as Spike Roller. Strategy guides for the original version and the DX release call him Rolling Bones, a reference to The Rolling Stones.
    • Examining the Blooper figure in the Switch remake will mention how "squids are the hot new thing with kids today."
  • Shows Damage:
    • The Hardhit Beetle's shell in the Color Dungeon in DX goes through the spectrum from blue to red as it loses health and vice versa when it regenerates.
    • In the Switch remake, the Hardhit Beetle shows signs of increasing physical damage in addition to the color change. In addition, two more bosses now also change appearance as they take damage:
      • The Genie's bottle cracks as it is thrown against the wall in the first phase. His lips and tongue change from red to purple as he takes damage in the second phase.
      • Facade starts the battle wearing a confident, sinister smile. When he goes below half health, his expression becomes more strained and his left eye begins to twitch.
  • Small, Secluded World: The people of Koholint Island have never seen or heard of anything beyond the ocean, and many of them questioned if there was anything until Link arrived.
  • 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. The musicians of the remake apparently realized this, since a new theme was composed for the final phase.
  • 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 Rival character from Kaeru, Richard, makes a cameo in Link's Awakening.
  • Spoiler Title: In the English 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 name of the Japanese version of the game is The Legend of Zelda: Dream Island. Well, that certainly ruins the tension.
  • Stationary Enemy: Sea urchins serve as living obstacles more than anything else and never budge from their spots unless pushed away with the shield.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The elephant statues in the Face Shrine were a standard pun in the Japanese version (see Lost in Translation above), but can be taken another way in the English version: given that they show up right after the game's big reveal, they represent the elephant in the room.
    • Hot Head, the boss for Turtle Rock, is a giant fireball that is fought by shooting fireballs at him with the Magic Rod. In other words, fighting fire with fire.
    • When the player touches a crystal block, a message pops up that says, "Oh? What a weird object! There must be some way to tackle this obstacle." The way to break them is by charging them with the Pegasus Boots, i.e., tackling them.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: The mural that reveals the truth of Koholint directly addresses Link, even though it's part of a supposedly old, long ruined temple. This is probably the most direct proof of the island's status as a dream before the end of the game.
  • Temple of Doom: The Face Shrine, a confusing palace area found in the second half of the game. It doesn't have many traps, but it presents a Difficulty Spike with tougher puzzles, several bombable walls, and some strange looping rooms.
  • Thunder Drum: The final Instrument of the Sirens needed to wake the Wind Fish is literally called the Thunder Drum.
  • The Trees Have Faces:
    • The trees of the Tabahl Wasteland are grey-barked, gnarled things with short, leafless branches and trunks split by jagged holes that give the the impression of wicked, grinning faces.
    • The "Talking Timbers" from the previous game reappear at the Seashell Mansion.
  • Trick Arrow: Equipping both the bow and the bombs allows Link to fire a bomb arrow.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The game is about Link getting shipwrecked on a tropical island and trying to find a way off of it by waking the Wind Fish, being one of the departures from the Medieval European Fantasy setting of the rest of the series along with Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. Of course, not all is as it seems...
  • Underground Level: Bottle Grotto, Key Cavern, and Catfish's Maw; the first is in a cave near a swamp, the second is underneath a brick building, and the third is a building underneath Martha's Bay.
  • Unending End Card: Upon beating the game, you are put on a THE END screen (with Marin depending on if you manage to complete the game without dying) that you can't exit out of without resetting. The DX version adds a thank you message from the developers after the end card, but it hangs on that screen instead. The Switch version instead prompts you to save and return to the title screen, averting the trope.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Angler's Tunnel. Using a combination of Edge Gravity abuse and Pegasus Boots, the player can dash jump over a deep section of water they aren't supposed to. The jump can be made easier by picking up a Piece of Power, which gives a small boost to speed including when dashing. After this, there are two key blocks but the player can only have one key at most the first time they come through this room. Using the key on one of the blocks makes the rest of the dungeon impossible to complete. The intention is to use the key on a door a few rooms away, which leads both to the Flippers and two more keys before looping back. This was fixed in later revisions by replacing two of the shallow water tiles with deep water tiles so that the player can't make the jump.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • There is a single monkey in Toronbo Shores that sits on top of a palm tree and tosses coconuts at you.
    • In the eastern courtyard of Kanalet Castle, you will find the Mad Bomber, a bomb-throwing enemy who will pop in and out of five holes in the ground, emerging to toss explosives at you before diving out of sight. This foe will not appear in any other area or dungeon in the game, and will never respawn after being killed.
    • Anti-Kirby also appears as an enemy in only two rooms in the Eagle's Tower dungeon.
    • The Key Cavern has a single room with green colored bomb-enemies that follow you instead of bouncing off the walls.
    • Boo Buddies only appear in one room in the Bottle Grotto dungeon, guarding the Power Bracelet.
    • 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.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • A Game Boy Color-enhanced version was released as Link's Awakening DX in 1998. In addition to adding color graphics, it also included a new dungeon and support for the Game Boy Printer. Some other minor issues were also addressed:
      • The Stone Slabs used to give hints in dungeons are replaced by Owl Statues, and the Stone Slab Fragment to Stone Beaks. Statues that speak when a mouth is attached, though a bit fantastic, make more sense than the writing on a single mundane stone fragment making multiple plaques readable.
      • The Genie boss in Bottle Grotto had his fireballs slowed down. In the original, they were very difficult to dodge and it wasn't likely the player had more than 5 hearts at this point in the game.
      • The effect on the Golden Ending was changed. In the original, a winged Marin floats across the screen which led to some odd speculation. In the DX version, it now has a faded image of her face appear before revealing a seagull flying away and matches her wish much more closely.
      • Some visual effects like bombs and warping are less exaggerated.
      • Several glitches, bugs, and design flaws were fixed.
    • A Nintendo Switch version was further released in 2019. In addition to entirely overhauled and modernized graphics, using dynamic 3D models instead of sprites, it features a number of changes and improvements:
      • The introductory and ending cutscenes are fully animated.
      • Areas are loaded in their entirety, without screen transitions, and the view scrolls with link as he moves around larger areas.
      • The photograph sidequest is removed.
      • A new sidequest is added where Link can collect flagstones to build customizable dungeons to explore. To aid this, a version of the character Dampé is added to the game.
      • The fishing minigame is expanded, gaining three types of lure, three new types of fish and additional rewards.
      • The Trendy Game is completely overhauled. Instead of a constantly moving conveyor belt, it features a still platform and two that move back and forth. It gains a complete physics engine, and new prizes include pieces of heart, secret seashells, and figurines.
      • The heart containers Link are increased from fourteen to twenty, and the secret seashells from twenty-six to fifty. The seashells' locations are tweaked to ensure none are permanently missable.
      • A Memories screen is added to the map, showing the locations of all unlocked conversations, pieces of hearts and secret seashells.
      • Manbo's Mambo can teleport you to any warp spot, instead of only to his pond. Additionally, a few extra warp spots are added.
      • Apples can be found growing on some trees, which can be knocked down and eaten to restore health.
  • Variable Mix: A few instances here and there.
    • In both the original and the remake, performing the Ballad of the Wind Fish at the peak of Mt. Tamaranch will vary depending on how many instruments you have, with all eight providing the full ensemble.
    • Specific to the remake:
      • While traveling with Marin prior to the fourth dungeon, the songs for the overworld, Mysterious Forest, and Tal Tal Heights are replaced with solo recorder covers.
      • When viewing the relief at the Ancient Ruins, the minimalist background song gains a string section to underscore the Wham Episode.
      • After rescuing Marin from the collapsed bridge, the Tal Tal Heights music gains heavier percussion, adding snare drum and timpani. This variation plays from the start in Hero Mode.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Wind Fish's Egg is its own dungeon, once Link opens it up with the Instruments of the Sirens. It's largely an atmospheric dungeon, being a short, dark maze with no enemies leading up to the final Nightmare.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Unusually for a Zelda game, you can kill Cuccos and dogs with the magic powder or the Magic Rod. However, this cannot be done in the Switch remake.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you attack the dog, it attacks you. 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 and only in the Game Boy versions, 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.
  • V-Sign: Link flashes a V sign for his first picture in DX, unless he constantly says no to having his picture taken, which results in a different picture being taken.
  • Warp Whistle: Manbo's Mambo will either teleport you to Manbo's Pond in the overworld or to the entrance of the dungeon you're exploring. Pretty handy for players who plan on exploiting the screen-skipping glitch. In the Switch remake, the song allows Link to teleport to any teleporter he has found so far and adds a few new teleporters, making it easier to get around the island.
  • Water-Geyser Volley: At the end of the game, moments after awakening the Wind Fish, Link is thrusted into the air when water erupts from below him.
  • Whale Egg: The Wind Fish's Egg is where the Wind Fish sleeps, and where Link needs to bring the Instruments of the Sirens to wake him up. It's also the last dungeon of the game, since the final Nightmare is inside of it.
  • Wham Episode: The Ancient Ruins. 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.
  • Wham Line: The wall in the Ancient Ruins has one stating that Koholint Island is only a dream, and that waking the Wind Fish will cause it to vanish.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • People will call you "THIEF" instead of the name you chose for Link if you steal from the Town Tool Shop in Mabe Village. The game itself even chews you out for doing so ("Guess what, you got it for free. Are you proud of yourself?"). And if you ever return to the shop, the shopkeeper says Link will pay the ultimate price for not paying the item's price, followed by electrocuting him to death.
    • Also, people really seem to not like it if you say no to a yes or no choice.
  • With Lyrics: Commercials for the Switch version have vocal versions of the Ballad of the Wind Fish in Japanese, English, and Korean.
  • You Bastard!: It's possible to steal from the Town Tool Shop, and doing so results in the game calling the player out by saying "Guess what? You got it for free. Are you proud of yourself?" In the DX version, the Photographer will take a picture of Link in the act of stealing from the shop. Meaning that getting 100% Completion requires you to steal.
  • You Fool!: If you try to attack the Giant Buzz Blob with your sword in the DX version or remake before using Magic Powder, it'll call you a fool and tell you to try something else.

THIEF, are you listening to me?

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Links Awakening


The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

If Link steals something from the shopkeeper, he will get zapped to death when he returns. (NOTE: A section was slowed down to avoid seizures.)

How well does it match the trope?

4.96 (24 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShopliftAndDie

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