Although we cling fast.
Was it real, what we saw?
The fourth game in The Legend of Zelda series, released worldwide in 1993 for 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. Tellingly, Eiji Aonuma commented on an interview that Link's Awakening had a major influence in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
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:
- 2½D: The 2019 remake of the game maintains the original top-down perspective while updating to a cute chibi 3D animation style.
- 100% Completion: 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 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.
- Abnormal Ammo: The game lets you use exploding arrows by equipping bombs and arrows and pressing A+B at the same time. In later games, this is present as an actual mechanic with bomb arrows.
- 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.
- Adventures in Comaland: The ending reveals that the entirety of the game is a collective dream of both Link and the Wind Fish. He manages to wake up, however.
- After Boss Recovery: In this and other handheld games in the series, beating a mini-boss always causes a fairy to appear, in addition to the Heart Containers from the big bosses.
- A.I. Breaker: The boss of the seventh dungeon is normally very difficult, but if you enter the fight with the L-2 sword and either a Piece of Power or the Red Tunic (in DX), you can kill it while it's in its (fairly easy) first phase, because it doesn't enter the (much more difficult) second phase until it's been hit three times — and with the powered-up L-2 sword, three times is all you need. The Fire Rod from the eighth dungeon (which can be reached early via a specific invincibility trick, or by grabbing the Mirror Shield from dungeon 7, then exiting) will also end the battle in the first phase.
- Airborne Mook: The game features winged Octoroks that dodge Link's attacks by fluttering out of the way.
- 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.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: In the Game Boy Color re-make of the game, your reward for beating the optional Color Dungeon is a choice of either Red Clothes (boosts attack) or Blue Clothes (boosts defense). You can return to the dungeon anytime to swap colors (but you can never get the original Green Clothes back... without exploiting glitch, at least).
- 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. In the original game, Seashells disappear or turn into rupees after getting the L-2 sword simply because there are six more Seashells scattered about the island than you'd actually need to begin with, just so you won't have to scour the entire map and reach the endgame to find enough of them to get the sword.
- 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 Optional 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).
- 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 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.
- Astral Checkerboard Decor: The Southern Face Shrine has this design. It appears earlier in the game as well, but this is the point where it's most appropriate. It's where Link discovers that the island is part of a dream-made-real, created by the Wind Fish.
- Auto-Revive: Link's Life Meter replenishes instantly upon depletion if he bought Crazy Tracy's Magic Medicine, of which you can only hold one at a time since bottles don't exist in this game.
- Award-Bait Song: The "Ballad of the Windfish" sounds magnificent, especially once you've collected all of the Siren's instruments.
- 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.
- Background Music Override: Getting a Piece of Power or Guardian Acorn replaces all area music with a short power-up theme.
- 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 Bad: Nightmare/DethI plagues the Wind Fish and keeps him from waking up.
- 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 the Color Dungeon, which is only accessible by playing the game on a Game Boy Color. It includes color-based puzzles, such as colored switches and enemies that are only distinguishable by their tunics having to be beat in a certain order. For winning, you get either a Red or Blue Tunic, which puts you permanently under the effect of a Piece of Power (increased speed and attacks send enemies flying and do double damage) or a Guardian Acorn (double defense), respectively. This dungeon is also present in the Switch remake.
- 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.
- Boom in the Hand: For technical reasons, the game shows a notable aversion. Bombs that are picked up have their fuses reset and freeze while Link is holding them. Link also can't be harmed by his own bomb explosions.
- Border-Occupying Decorations: Playing the DX version on the Super Game Boy (not an optimal way to play due to the Color Dungeon) gives the game a border that shows Koholint Island, the sea, and the sky.
- Boss-Only Level: the Wind Fish's Egg is The Maze you navigate to reach the right path to the final boss.
- Boss Remix: In the remake, the Ballad of the Wind Fish gets a Dark Reprise during the final phase of the Final Boss.
- Boss Rush: Turtle Rock has this with the sub-bosses from each of the first four levels and the sixth level reappearing in the dungeon as well as a brand new sub-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:
- In the original Japanese version, the Mermaid asks you to find her lost bikini top in exchange for a scale from her tail. If you dive near her, she calls you a pervert and swims away. In the English localization, her bikini top was changed to a pearl necklace, and if you dive near her, she'll just say she already searched the area, or assume you're trying to steal a scale in the remake. This is why the narrator seems embarrassed when you find the necklace. The change made its way to the Japanese version with the Switch remake (likely due to using 3D models), but she oddly still calls you a pervert when you dive near her.
- 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.
- Brick Joke: At the beginning of the game Tarin knows Link's name bvecause it's engraved onto his shield, and it's similarly remarke upon once the sword is found that it has to be Link's because it also has his name engraved on it. This fact does not come up again until much later in the game where upon acquiring a the Koholint Sword, the description mentions the first thing Link should do with it is get his name engraved onto it.
- Broken Armor Boss Battle:
- The boss of Bottle Grotto is a Genie in a Bottle, who can only be attacked properly once Link has smashed his bottle by throwing it against the wall.
- To defeat the Armos Knight, the miniboss of the Southern Face Shrine, Link must use arrows or charge into it sword-first to break off its armor, after which it will be possible to damage it with further arrows or regular sword strikes.
- Turtle Rock's head is covered in rocky armor that Link can't pierce. Link must use bombs to break off its shell, exposing a fleshy head beneath that can be harmed with his regular weapons.
- 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 remake 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.
- Bullfight Boss: The Moblin leader miniboss attacks with a simple headlong charge, and must be goaded into hitting the room's walls to stun him.
- But Thou Must!:
- Played with in the DX version. The photographer won't take "no" for an answer when he asks if you want your picture taken. If you repeatedly refuse, though, you'll get a picture of Link beaten up in front of the curtain instead of the usual picture of Link giving a V-sign.
- Inverted with Papahl: If you talk to him without having the pineapple, your options for giving him something to eat are "Nope" and "Can't".
- Calling Parents by Their Name: Marin refers to her father, Tarin, by name.
- 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.
- Cash Gate: The game requires you to buy the bow for 980 rupees. Or you can steal it, if you don't mind never being able to return to the shop and the subsequent scarcity of arrows and bombs, lest you be killed if you try to enter the shop again, after which you're called "Thief" by the entire cast of characters permanently.
- 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.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The game starts out as a lighthearted and smaller adventure compared to the first three titles. However, after The Reveal that Koholint Island is just a dream, the game takes a darker and more morally-ambiguous tone— although the game's quirky sense of humor remains intact.
- 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 last book 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.
- Cherry Tapping: The shovel may be used instead of the sword to deflect the attacks of the shadow Agahnim form of the final boss.
- Chest Monster: There are treasure chests that look normal but release Zols — weak slime enemies — when opened. Thankfully, these are somewhat rare.
- Circling Birdies: Lights orbit Link's head whenever he's knocked down by Blaino, a Mini-Boss in Turtle Rock who soon uses the opportunity to uppercut Link back to the dungeon entrance.
- City in a Bottle: Koholint Island. The citizens (except for Marin) believe there is nothing beyond the sea and don't understand the concept of "when" they came to the island. This is because the island is All Just a Dream.
- Clamshell Currency: The Secret Seashells, which are turned in at the Seashell Manor for rewards.
- Closed Circle: Link becomes trapped in the Wind Fish's dreams when he arrives on Koholint Island, and must wake the Wind Fish to be able to leave.
- Clown-Car Grave: The zombie enemies, which appear in Tabahl Wasteland and the graveyard, continually come out of the ground in various spots.
- Collection Sidequest: Secret Seashells are scattered through all of Koholint Island and can be traded in a manor found east of the island for a sword upgrade.
- 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.
- Composite Character: In The Legend of Zelda, Pols Voice has a different weakness depending on the version you're playing. In the Famicom version, they're weak to loud noise, so they're instantly defeated by blowing into the microphone on the second controller. In the NES version, where the controllers didn't have microphones, they're vulnerable to arrows, though the manual still claims they hate loud noise. In this game, Pols Voice has both weaknesses: they're vulnerable to arrows, but playing the Ballad of the Wind Fish will also defeat them instantly (referencing their dislike for loud noise, as the Game Boy doesn't have a microphone either).
- 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 uncle from A Link to the Past. In turn, Malon and Talon from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are dead ringers for Marin and Tarin, and Zelda's sprite when she appears in the Oracle games is almost identical to Marin's.
- Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: A Link to the Past features the return of Ganon, having used the alter ego of Agahnim as he sought to regain power. Link's Awakening features the Nightmares, who differ from all other villains in that they want to save the world, as while they are a threat that keeps the Windfish asleep, defeating them and waking up the Windfish will cause Koholint Island and its inhabitants to disappear.
- Contrasting Sequel Setting: The first three games take place in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Hyrule, but this game broke tradition by taking place on a Denser and Wackier tropical island filled with Mario cameos and modern-day technology.
- Cowardly Boss: The Master Stalfos is the first Mini-Boss of the fifth dungeon (Catfish Maw, whose second miniboss is a pair of Gohmas). It tries to confront Link in one room, but upon taking some damage it flies and has to be found elsewhere. Link has to chase him across a total of four miniboss rooms and inflict enough damage in every rematch to finally kill the Stalfos and retrieve the Hookshot.
- 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.
- Crossover 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.
- Cursed with Awesome: Awaken Li'l Devil/Mad Batter (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!"Heh Heh Heh! You deserve it! Now look at all that junk you have to carry! Hah!"
- 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.
- In the remake, the remix of the Tal Tal Heights theme is initially an airy-sounding theme played with castanet backing. After saving Marin from the mountain bridge, it takes on a more dramatic tone, with an orchestral snare and timpani.
- An uneasy version of the owl's theme plays when he talks to you after opening the Wind Fish's Egg in the remake.
- 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:
- Many of the mini-bosses from early levels show up as regular enemies later in that same game. In some cases, there's a new weapon that makes it easier. In other cases, not so much.
- 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.
- Developer's 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".
- Dual Boss: The Gohmas in their dungeon stage. Weirdly, these are placed in a location where beating them isn't essential. Link's Awakening also has dual Dodongo Snakes as mini-bosses in three dungeons. This game marks the tradition of later games having minibosses that like to show up in pairs, such as Lizalfos, Stalfos and Darknuts. Sometimes with the added catch that both need to be defeated in quick succession or they come back to life.
- 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.
- Duet Bonding: Marin teaches Link the hauntingly beautiful Ballad of the Wind Fish, later they go off on an adventure together, and you can't help but think about how Marin is going to cease to exist when you play it to open the Wind Fish's egg.
- Early Game Hell:
- The earlier bosses are likely to be the hardest due to your low heart capacity. Conversely, the boss of the eighth (and penultimate) dungeon is laughably easy thanks to the Fire Rod.
- The Switch remake adds Hero Mode, in which enemies deal double damage and don't drop health items. The only sources of healing early on are heart pieces and containers and the Great Fairy in the Mysterious Forest. Once you get the Power Bracelet in the second dungeon, you can get to Crazy Tracy's Health Spa and a fairy you can put in a bottle, making things much easier.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: This was the first Zelda to include a Chain of Deals, which has since become a staple of the series. Whereas later games make the entire chain completely optional, in this game you have to progress in the chain at least up to the bananas, to get a monkey and his friends to repair a Broken Bridge to get into Kanalet Castle as part of the story.
- 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 ditched 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.
- Emergency Energy Tank: You can obtain a Magic Potion which will save you from death once and then vanish afterwards.
- 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.
- Endless Corridor: To clear the final dungeon, you need to either figure out (or simply guess) the proper route to the final boss, or complete an otherwise optional Chain of Deals to get a Magnifying Glass that lets you read a book in Mabe Village's library and take note of the route there.
- Escape Rope: Playing Manbo's Mambo on the Ocarina teleports the player to the entrance of a dungeon. Outside of those, it teleports the player to a tiny pond right next to the Mysterious Woods (it's upgraded to a full-blown Warp Whistle in the Nintendo Switch remake).
- Escort Mission: Occurs when Link escorts Marin around the island until reaching Animal Village, 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.
- Tarin, the mushroom-obsessed man with a fabulous mustache who transforms into a tanuki? Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
- The Cucco Keeper in Tal Tal Heights wears green and sports a thick mustache. Where have we seen this before?
- Mr. Write is a pretty obvious Expy of Dr. Wright from the Super Nintendo port of SimCity, with whole he shares his appearance, theme music, and a homophonic name.
- 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.
- Final-Exam Boss: The Shadow of Nightmares, the Final Boss, morphs into a grand total of five different enemies you've fought before (excluding the Giant Bot), and if you're familiar with them, you know exactly how to counter their moves. Then, you have to endure the true form of the Nightmare, and the real final battle is underway.
- 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.
- Flying Seafood Special: The Wind Fish is a giant, flying and winged whale.
- Forced Tutorial: Picking up a Compass requires sitting through a long, tedious message explaining what it does, painstakingly introducing the new feature of playing a sound whenever there's a key hidden in the room. This message takes up multiple text boxes, and it appears every single time you pick up a compass, regardless of how many times you've seen it before.
- Parodied. Papahl outright tells you at the start of the game that he'll get himself lost somewhere in the hills later on. Sure enough, he does.
- As a more serious example, the Super Mario Bros. 2 cameos, such as Wart, foreshadow that this game, like that one, is All Just a Dream. Kirby's appearance also serves as part of that hint, as the Kirby games are set in Dream Land.
- 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.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: There's a couple of characters who follow you for a while, including love interest Marin. Not only do all attacks pass through her, she can somehow keep up with your Pegasus Boots, make jumps you need the Roc's Feather for, and (if you do a little Sequence Breaking) walk on water when you're swimming.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: There's the miniboss Master Stalfos in Catfish's Maw, whom you have to chase to four separate rooms before finally defeating him; the Slime Eel, the main boss of the same dungeon, does the whack-a-mole approach where it occasionally pops its head out of holes in the walls and has to be pulled with the hookshot to expose its weakpoint. Also, the Grim Creeper in Eagles' Tower; after you defeat his bats, he runs to the top of the tower, where you have to fight him (on an eagle) as the main boss.
- 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.
- Go for the Eye: The Gohmas can only be harmed by shooting them in the eye, which can only be done when they open their eyelids to attack.
- 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.
- Grass Is Greener: A variation. Even though Koholint Island seems like a perfectly fine place to live and nobody else (besides the hero) ever thinks of leaving, Marin wishes to leave and travel the world like a seagull. Even though the island turns out to be All Just a Dream, if you never die in a run of the game it's shown that she gets her wish.
- 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.
- Harp of Femininity: Marin is shown to play the harp in official art (though she never does so in the game itself, and never mentions that she can, either). A harp is also one of the eight magic instruments Link has to acquire throughout the game.
- Healing Loop: The boxing mini boss Blaino's uppercut not only resets the combat (and thus, Blaino's health to full), it also knocks Link not only out of the room, but the entire dungeon. Turtle Rock is not a fun trek. This is one loop you don't want to get stuck in.
- Healing Potion: The Secret Medicine bought from Crazy Tracy works automatically, activating when Link runs out of hearts and refilling his health bar. Dialogue when you buy it implies it's not a potion but an unguent; the Switch remake altered its sprite to reflect this.
- He Knows About Timed Hits: There are some early-game areas where people cryptically explain the interface. For example, a child tells Link "Hey man! When you want to save, just push all the Buttons at once! ...Uh, don't ask me what that means, I'm just a kid!" Made especially confusing because the button combo in question — A+B+Select+Start — is used on most other Game Boy games to force a Soft Reset. Made doubly confusing if you're playing on a Game Boy Advance and aren't aware that the L and R buttons on that particular system aren't used in GBC games other than to optionally resize the screen, so you try pressing those along with the others simultaneously.
- Helpful Mook: The Mad Batters return to increase your bombs, magic powder, and arrow capacity under the guise of "cursing" you to carry more. Anti-Fairies can also be transformed as before, but with the Boomerang instead of Magic Powder.
- He Was Right There All Along: Facade, the boss of the Face Shrine hides in the floor. Walk into a room. Empty. Giant face on the floor which will kill you. Boss.
- High-Altitude Battle: The Evil Eagle and Grim Creeper are fought on the very top of Eagle's Tower.
- Identical Stranger: In the opening dialogue of the game, Marin is at first mistaken for Princess Zelda. This gets a Call-Forward in the Oracle games that take place immediately before, where Zelda's in-game model is identical to Marin's except for the addition of a crown.
- I Found You Like This: At the beginning of the game, Marin nurses Link back to health after he washes up on the beach.
- Improbable Weapon User: In the fight with Shadow Aghanim in the Final Boss battle, you can reflect his magic using the shovel.
- Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: Conveyor belts are a common asset in dungeons, but their most prominent appearance is in Key Cavern. They make combat against enemies more difficult, especially against the Pairodds due to their habit of teleporting as soon as Link approaches them and then shoot a projectile at him in retaliation. Using the Pegasus Boots (once they're acquired in this very dungeon) makes the job much easier, but until then the conveyor belts will be a hassle.
- 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.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: There's a book sitting on top of a bookshelf. To get it down, Link has to go all the way to a dungeon on the other side of the island, defeat countless monsters, and get the Sprint Shoes so he can ram the bookcase and the book will fall off.
- Invisible Monsters: There's a group of invisible enemies directly outside the room with the item that makes them visible. Said item is intended for a few other (non-battle) purposes.
- 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.
- Kaizo Trap: There's an infamous case in the final battle. When you defeat the final boss' last form, before the boss explodes, the arms can still deal damage, even though its host is dead. This often results in death if Link does not have or used up the potion if you're low on health, because contact with the arms deal one full heart with no Mercy Invincibility. Also, if you are unlucky enough to still be in contact with the boss while it is giving its Final Speech, then it is a race between your hearts and the game's letter-writing.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock:
- An Unintentionally Unwinnable example in Angler Tunnel: the door one particular Interchangeable Antimatter Key is meant to be used on has another behind it, but by making a tricky jump it can be used on a different door that doesn't have a replacement behind it.
- Played with in the Key Cavern, also averting Permanently Missable Content. A hub room in one part of the dungeon has four locked doors. Three of them are dead ends that also contain a key (which can be used on one of the remaining locked doors), while the fourth allows the player to proceed (but does not give the player a key, so the other doors accessible from the hub remain locked). Near the end of the dungeon, an extra key can be obtained to access any locked rooms the player hadn't entered.
- King Mook: Several examples. Mini bosses King Moblin and Master Stalfos are this to Bulldog Moblinsnote and Stalfos respectively. The dungeon boss Moldorm is a larger and more powerful version of the Mini Moldorm enemies.
- 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. Nearly 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. The item obtained in the dungeon is a magic staff that shoots flames, and the boss is a giant fireball with a face.
- 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.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: There's an entire village full of nothing but animals. Justified as the whole thing is a dream of the Wind Fish. Even the dreams of space whales don't have to make sense.
- Long Song, Short Scene: The Tal Tal Mountain Range is primarily explored via its extensive network of cave systems. The area also has an equally extensive background theme that plays while in the overworld, but the average player is guaranteed to only hear a small part of it in the time it takes to move from one cave to the next.
- Lord British Postulate: Cuccos and dogs can't be killed with the sword, attacking the former enough causes a whole flock of Cuccos to start swarming Link (as is the norm in Zelda games), and attacking the latter triggers a counterattack. Use the Fire Rod or Magic Powder, however, and not only can you kill them, but an active Cucco swarm will stop. A mild case of Early-Installment Weirdness — this was only the second game in the series to feature Cuccos, and in all later games killing them is completely impossible.
- 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.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The entire game takes place in Link's/the Windfish's dreamworld. Link is sent to a perfect island paradise with plenty of adventure, friends, and fun, and he'll never have to work for anything again. Instead of staying, though, he's forced to fight the game's enemies, the Nightmares, to wake up the Windfish and return to reality. In doing that he destroys the entire island and all of its inhabitants he's grown so fond of. Even though most people know it's coming, it's still a pretty powerful ending. The manga is even worse.
- Mad Bomber: There's a unique Elite Mook actually named the Mad Bomber. It used to be part of Richard's loyal servants before going berserk. It hides within a network of holes, and throws bombs at Link from a distance; these bombs have a shorter fuse than Link's.
- Magical Mystery Doors: You must go through Magical Mystery Corridors in the Wind Fish's Egg to get to the final boss. Fortunately, you can find a book in the library that tells you the exact order in which you must take each path to reach it (it's randomized each playthrough).
- 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.
- Man-Eating Plant: In some dungeon basements, Super Mario Bros. Piranha Plants appear as enemies, even popping out of pipes like they do in their games of origin. Link can defeat them easily with his sword.
- Mark of Shame: If you steal from the shopkeeper, Link's name is permanently changed to THIEF.
- 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-Boss: The game set the tradition in itself and subsequent games in the series to have at least one miniboss per dungeon, often rewarding Link with the dungeon's flagship item upon victory. In comparison, the games before it only have regular bosses refought in Degraded Boss form in later dungeons. Link's Awakening itself also has a dungeon (Catfish's Maw) that holds the record for having the most mini-boss battles, with five in total (the first four against Master Stalfos, and the fifth against two Gohmas).
- 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.
- Mirrors Reflect Everything: In the remake, upon contact with the Mirror Shield, every kind of projectile attack bounces back and strikes the enemy that launched it, even rocks and spears, with nothing to suggest that the shield is supposed to have any magical properties.
- 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.
- Monster Clown: The second boss is a bottle genie that looks and behaves in a manner similar to a clown.
- Mook Bouncer: The seventh's dungeon's boss, Evil Eagle, is a bird that tries to knock you off the platform you battle it on but only to the previous screen, which is still enough time for it to fully regenerate its health. There's also the eighth dungeon's mid-boss, Blaino, who will straight-up Wall Master your ass back to the dungeon entrance if his uppercut connects. The eighth dungeon is huge, so it only takes one trip back to the entrance for players to really, really hate Blaino.
- Multiple Endings: will add a segment near the end that implies that Marin's wish to become a seagull and fly away from Koholint Island (and, in turn, escape the Dream Apocalypse) was fulfilled if you beat the game without losing a single life.
- Musical Nod: Several to previous Zelda games, as well as a few to other Nintendo games.
- The Mabe Village theme is a riff on Zelda's Lullaby.
- The Tail Cave theme (and by extension the cave and miniboss themes, which are derived from it) borrows considerably from the Light World dungeon theme from A Link to the Past.
- The Bottle Grotto theme features the same chord progression as A Link to the Past's Dark World dungeon theme.
- The Color Dungeon features an arrangement of the first game's dungeon theme.
- The overworld theme and Tal Tal Heights are variations on the series' main theme.
- Mr. Write's house and Christine's house play arrangements of Dr. Wright's theme from SimCity on the SNES.
- Richard's villa uses an abridged arrangement of the overworld theme from For the Frog the Bell Tolls, the game Richard originates from.
- The Turtle Rock entrance boss fight theme recalls A Link to the Past's boss music.
- Mutually Exclusive Power-Ups: In the Game Boy Color and Nintendo Switch remakes, there is a Bonus Dungeon where Link can choose between either a red tunic that lets him deal more damage, or a blue one that lets him receive less damage.
- 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).
- 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.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Link goes through the game defeating the Nightmares, which are creating all the monsters that are rampaging around Koholint Island, and in doing so he collects the Instruments he'll need to wake the Wind Fish so that he can escape the island. Unfortunately, Koholint was just a dream the slumbering Wind Fish was having. So as soon as Link wakes him, the island and its people vaporize. This is actually shown in a poignant ending scene, while the Ballad of the Wind Fish plays. In fact, the last thing we see is Marin singing along to the Ballad while she and the world around her fade into oblivion. If you finish the game without dying once, one of the shots of seagulls flying during the end credits is replaced by a shot of Marin's Sprite flying around on wings, hinting that she got her wish of becoming a seagull and was able to leave the island.
- No-Damage Run: If you complete the game without dying once, the ending adds an extra scene after the credits roll that differs between whether you're playing the original game or the DX rerelease, though the end result is the same - it implies that Marin survives the Dream Apocalypse, and gets to explore the world just as she dreamed in the form of a seagull.
- No Fair Cheating:
- It is possible to pick up an item from a store's shelf, run around the shopkeeper very quickly until he can't see you (he tries to face you all the time but can't always keep up) and then run out the door with it. Players thinking they had managed to cheat the game were very surprised when a) everyone started referring to them as "THIEF" instead of their chosen name in dialogue and b) they re-entered the shop and the shopkeeper killed them with a laser. In the DX version, though, you are actually required to steal from the shop to get one of the photos in the game. Most people choose to save this one for the end of the game when they don't need to go into the shop again anyway.
- The DX version has an exclusive dungeon designed for the Game Boy Color and it has its enemies and puzzles based on colors. Trying to get past the skeleton guards on a regular Game Boy will have them blocking the way and even if you do manage to get past them, trying to play through the colors gimmick without any actual color would be too frustrating to attempt.note
- 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 WIND FISH IN NAME ONLY, FOR IT IS NEITHER.".
- 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 indefinitely, though he doesn't accompany you into the actual dungeon, and he leaves you after it's completed.
- Oculothorax: The Gohmas resemble colossal eyeballs, with eyelids and minimal bodies around them, scuttling around on four jointed legs.
- Oddball in the Series: The game eschews the classic plot devices used in the first three games (Zelda and her role as the princess of Hyrule, Ganon and his evil actions, and the Triforce) and is the first in the series to take place in a setting other than Hyrule (Koholint Island). It also holds numerous explicit references to other Nintendo franchises, with appearances being made by characters and enemies from titles such as Super Mario Bros., Kirby, and SimCity. Finally, most of the bosses are pretty chatty, engaging Link in short pre- and post-battle conversations.
- 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.
- In an extreme case of Shoplift and Die, stealing from the shop and returning with the stolen item will show the owner instantly zapping Link to death.
- One-Winged Angel: The final boss, the Shadow Nightmares, shifts through six forms in rapid succession. The first few are based on Link's memories of bosses from this game and A Link to the Past, including Agahnim and Ganon. Its final form, DethI, is a particularly monstrous beast with a single eye and giant claws. It can only be damaged when its eye is open.
- 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.
- Optional Boss: The Updated Re-release of the game for Game Boy Color featured a Bonus Dungeon based on color, designed entirely to show off the capabilities of the Game Boy Color. The boss of the dungeon isn't more difficult than the other bosses, but even once you find the entrance to the dungeon you can only actually enter it if you know the color of the stalfos' clothes at the entrance. There are also a number of color-based puzzles that would be frustratingly difficult if you managed to get in anyway while playing on an original Game Boy.
- Or Was It a Dream?: The game's setting is a dream of the Wind Fish, and Link has to wake it up from inside in order to leave. If you beat the game without dying, at the end of the credits you see the character Marin flying around. The implication in this case is not that it wasn't a dream, but that one person from the dream became real (having wished during the game to become a seagull and travel the world). The DX version changes this to a picture of Marin that fades into a seagull, which flies off.
- 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 got stranded 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.
- Player Death Is Dramatic: The game mimics the death animation seen in A Link to the Past, except with the screen fading to white.
- Plot Coupon: Eight Instruments of the Siren. They're necessary to awake the Wind Fish.
- Power Up Letdown: Normally, the Mirror Shield allows you to reflect projectiles and light beams, enabling the solution of several puzzles, but in this game it's only used twice: to block the feathers from the Evil Eagle and to get past the flamethrower obstacle en route to Level 8.
- 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.
- The Problem with Pen Island: The final form of the Final Boss is named DethI (with an uppercase "I" at the end and pronounced "Death Eye"), but since an uppercase "I" looks identical to a lowercase "L" in many fonts, its name is often mistaken for "DETHL." Even the encyclopedia on the official Zelda website made this mistake.
- Progressive Instrumentation: This can be done optionally by playing the Wind Fish's Ballad in front of its egg before all of the Siren's Instruments are obtained. Each instrument will materialize and play its own separate section of the ballad, with or without the necessary accompaniment.
- 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.
- Quad Damage: The Pieces of Power are pickups that occasionally drop from slain enemies and have the effect of doubling your damage output for as long as you stay on the current "screen". There are also Guardian Acorns, which function similarly except that they halve the damage you receive.
- Quicksand Sucks: You fight a Lanmola in a pit of quicksand. You only get sucked downward (to a cave you must traverse to get back to the surface) if you get put in the center of the pit; the rest of the quicksand simply pulls you toward that center.
- Rascally Raccoon: A raccoon in the Mysterious Woods will prevent you from progressing by changing the area the top of the screen leads to, and must be sprinkled with magic powder in order to proceed. Using the powder changes the raccoon back into its true form, Tarin, who was transformed after eating a mushroom.
- Recurring Boss:
- A Stalfos Mini-Boss in the Catfish's Maw dungeon is the first variety. After you've defeated him once, he seems to become terrified of you and flees. At one point he steals the dungeon treasure from its chest and leaves a note in its place. You have to search out three more rooms like the one he was originally fought in and take him on three more times; the first two end the same way, with him fleeing in terror, before the final fight has him finally decide to fight to the end. Once you beat him the fourth time he drops the dungeon treasure.
- Several other minibosses, including Hinox, Rover, the Dodongo Snakes and Hydrosoar, are encountered as multiple separate instances in several dungeons in the game.
- 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.
- Reviving Enemy: Master Stalfos has to be defeated in each battle with a bomb right after Link makes its body crumble, as said body will rebuild itself after a few seconds otherwise.
- Roaring Rapids: The Rapids Ride, located in the eastern area of Koholint Island, has you collect items as you ride across the river with a raft while dealing with high-current rapids and waterfalls.
- 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.
- Same Content, Different Rating: The Grezzo remake is rated E or its equivalent everywhere, like the original... except in Japan, where it was slapped with a B rating and a descriptor for "Crime." Presumably, stealing from an item shop fits this regardless of the consequences.
- Sand Is Water: A sand whirlpool appears on a single screen of the Yarna Desert. A Lanmolas appears here as a Mini-Boss, and defeating it is necessary to get a key that opens the entrance to a dungeon.
- 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 either Link or the Wind Fish has to have encountered the ideas somewhere.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly:
- The island is the Wind Fish's dreamworld, and the point of gathering the eight dungeon items is to awaken the Wind Fish and end the dream. Link is oblivious to this since you aren't directly told that 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 the truth all along, and what he told Link was a Motivational Lie to ensure that he would continue and complete his quest.
- The Nightmares, naturally, try to weaken Link's will by saying that he is just part of the dream too.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- The fifth dungeon's miniboss flees 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 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: If you beat the game without losing a single life, the final cutscene will include seagulls, implying that Marin's wish to become a seagull and fly away from Koholint Island (and, by extension, escape the Dream Apocalypse) was fulfilled.
- 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.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: Whereas all previous games (including this one's direct predecessor, A Link to the Past) take place in Hyrule, Link's Awakening takes place on the island of Koholint, being the first time in the series where a different setting is used.
- 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.
- Sequential Boss: The Shadow Nightmares, the Final Boss, has six sequential forms (although the last two forms can be one-shotted with the right weapons).
- "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. It is roamed by Pokeys (cactus-like enemies from Super Mario Bros.) and divided into a network of paths by rows of cacti that will hurt Link if he runs into them.
- Shock and Awe: If you're so foolish as to return to the shop in Mabe Village after stealing from the place, the shopkeeper will sic his lightning powers on you until you are dead, after which your save title will be renamed to "THIEF".
- Shockwave Stomp: The Armos Knight will periodically jump into the air and land with great force, stunning Link on impact unless he uses the Roc's Feather to jump into the air right as it lands.
- 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.
- 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.
- Situational Sociability: Ulrira, the old man who acts as your Hint System, will give you plenty of advice over the phone. When you see him in person, he barely speaks at all. When he does speak it's a request for you to call him via phone instead.
- 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.
- Smooch of Victory: Link gets a kiss from Madam MeowMeow after rescuing her Chain Chomp dog. The kiss will refill Link's hearts.
- 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.
- 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: The Dreaming 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.
- Stock Beehive: As part of the game's Chain of Deals, Link has to get Tarin to knock a honeycomb out of a tree in order to trade to a chef bear. The honeycomb in question looks mostly like a wasp's nest, consisting of seven downward-pointing cells arranged in a hexagonal pattern and hanging from a thin stem.
- 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.
- Teaser Equipment: The game features the Shovel (200 rupees), and later the Bow (980 rupees) in the item shop, long before you are expected to be able to afford them. Granted, you can cheap out the Crane Game in order to buy both items right at the beginning of the game (or just steal them)...
- 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 greater difficulty with tougher puzzles, several bombable walls, and some strange looping rooms.
- Tennis Boss: There's a shadow version of Agahnim during the final showdown, complete with tennis-based battle strategy. This time, the Shovel also works. The shadow also has two attacks, one of which cannot be sent back or blocked, and must be dodged. Finally, the shadow doesn't hit the attack back at you, so the "tennis" aspect is downplayed.
- Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The Switch remake shows the logo with the same chipped font as Breath of the Wild, this time next to a pair of palm trees to reflect the exotic island setting.
- Theme Music Power-Up: In the beginning, you're harmless and must make your way to the beach by pushing enemies around with your shield. Find your sword, though, and after a brief cue the music switches to the Legend of Zelda main theme.
- 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.
- Thunder Drum: The final Instrument of the Sirens needed to wake the Wind Fish is literally called the Thunder Drum.
- Title In: This became the first game in the series to identify a location's name as soon as Link entered it, though here it's limited to the dungeons (where their level order is also displayed).
- Toggling Setpiece Puzzle: Like its predecessor, the game features toggleable cubical barriers in some dungeons, as well as crystal switches that swap their states (and the wiring is always dungeon-wide); their most prominent use takes place in Eagle's Tower, where Link has to work around them as he aims to collapse the highest floor to make it part of the third by destroying the pillars that hold it up. Due to palette limitations, the barriers aren't color-coded (not even in the Game Boy Color rerelease, where all barriers are colored blue in Bottle Grotto and red in the other dungeons), though you can still tell visually which ones are lifted and which ones are receded (this is no longer a problem in the Switch remake, where they're color-coded).
- 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.
- Underwater Boss Battle: Angler Fish, the boss of the fourth dungeon, is an underwater sidescrolling boss.
- 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.
- Unishment: There's an imp who, upon being disturbed, "punishes" you by... increasing the number of bombs, arrows, and magic powder you can carry. The imp justifies his "punishment" by telling you "now look at all that junk you have to carry!". However, at the end, the character lampshades the trope by saying "Take care, see you again," in a totally cordial tone. This is very reminiscent of an equally-backfired punishment attempt done by another imp in the game's predecessor (A Link to the Past, where said imp would make Link's magic meter twice as durable), and it makes sense because the entire game is a dream of all the things Link has faced before.
- Unnaturally Looping Location: The Wind Fish's Egg has a maze before Link faces the final boss. Assuming the correct pattern was learned at the library, or else Link will be trapped in repeating the same rooms.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: The early morning receptionist is the Genie. He throws fires that also deal a full heart of damage which are hard to dodge, and the fact that you won't be used to his attacks at first (or at all) means that you'll get your power knocked out of you before long. On top of all this, he has a second phase.
- 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.
- Whack-a-Monster: Slime Eel, the fifth dungeon boss. When it pops out of one of the four holes in the walls, Link has to drag the monster out with the Hookshot to expose its weakness.
- 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.TO THE FINDER... THE ISLE OF KOHOLINT IS BUT AN ILLUSION. HUMAN, MONSTER, SEA, SKY... A SCENE ON THE LID OF A SLEEPER'S EYE... AWAKE THE DREAMER AND KOHOLINT WILL VANISH MUCH LIKE A BUBBLE ON A NEEDLE... CASTAWAY... YOU SHOULD KNOW THE TRUTH!
- What the Hell, Hero?: When Marin is following you around, she'll call you a bad boy if you break jars.
- 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.
- People really seem to not like it if you say no to a yes or no choice.
- Where Do You Think You Are?: In the beginning scene of the game, Link wakes up and mistakes Marin for Princess Zelda, thinking he is in the kingdom of Hyrule. She corrects him and explains that he is now on Koholint Island, which is soon after reaffirmed by a mysterious owl.
- With Lyrics: Commercials for the Switch version have vocal versions of the Ballad of the Wind Fish in Japanese, English, and Korean.
- World Limited to the Plot: Koholint Island exists only as a dream of the Wind Fish, and the island's inhabitants start to get very uncomfortable when they speak of anything existing outside of the island. The lone exception is Marin, who wants to become a seagull to explore the outside world. When the Wind Fish is awakened at the end of the game, the island ceases to exist.
- 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.
- You Shouldn't Know This Already: The final dungeon consists of The Maze of identical rooms. The canonical way to get through it is to complete a long Chain of Deals culminating in a magnifying glass that allows you to read a book that contains the solution to the maze. The solution is randomly chosen, so you can't just remember (or more likely, write down) the solution from a previous playthrough. However, there are a finite number of possible solutions that the game randomly picks from. There's nothing stopping you from looking them up online and trying them all one by one, lucking into the correct sequence, or just brute-forcing your way through by trying all possible combinations (although the latter would be far more time-consuming than just finishing the Chain of Deals, which has to be completed about halfway earlier in the game).