The Legend of Zelda series has re-invented itself time and time again. When you think about it, change is one of the landmark aspects of the massively popular franchise. We were wowed when the franchise made its jump to 3D in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We were perplexed but intrigued by the cel-shaded visuals of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.
Although shaking up expectations is something the Zelda series does well, it’s also known for its distinct formula of dungeon-crawling, puzzle-solving, and item-based progression. With many players experiencing The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, those unfamiliar with the game may be shocked by the unique elements of the game.
Link’s Awakening is different in many ways, but there are a few things that stick out the most. These are three ways that Link’s Awakening breaks Zelda tradition.
1 – You Can Jump
Yes, I’m well aware that you can jump in other Zelda games. However, Link’s Awakening was the first Zelda title to truly make use out of a jump mechanic.
In both side-scrolling and top-down sections, jumping becomes an absolute must. This adds a new element to exploration too, as you can often leap over certain environmental elements. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the ability to jump on command is game-changing.
2 – There’s No Zelda
Although Zelda is briefly mentioned in the opening minutes of the game, you’ll find no blonde-haired princess to rescue in Link’s Awakening. In fact, Link’s Awakening is one of the oddest Zelda entries when it comes to lore.
You don’t explore Hyrule, Ganon is barely around, and the overall experience feels vastly different from a standard Zelda adventure. This isn’t a bad thing, but those expecting to bum-rush a pig king and save their damsel princess might be disappointed. It’s not one of the most notable changes, but it is one of the biggest differences between Link’s Awakening and most Zelda games.
3 – There’s a Lot of Nintendo Crossover Content
Generally speaking, The Legend of Zelda exists outside of any other Nintendo universe. Unless you count Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart 8, there’s not a good chance of catching Link alongside any other Nintendo characters. That’s simply not true when it comes to Link’s Awakening, which is packed with cameos from other Nintendo characters.
In the first town, a lady has a Chain Chomp from Super Mario Bros as a pet. Enemies from Super Mario Bros also pop up in side-scrolling segments, including Goombas and Piranha Plants. You can even win yourself a Yoshi plushy in a crane-game!
Overall, Link’s Awakening feels a lot more like a shared-universe experience than a standalone Zelda story.