The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Switch: Everything you need to know

With Breath of the Wild solidly in the rearview mirror, we were about due for another entry in the Legend of Zelda series. Though many posited a 2D Legend of Zelda of some kind, Nintendo surprised everyone by announcing during the February 2019 Nintendo Direct that it was remaking the beloved Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for release later this year on September 20th.

Link's Awakening is being recreated in HD in its entirety for the Nintendo Switch. Though we haven't heard much about the details of the game beyond its existence and a brief trailer, here's everything we know so far about The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Switch.

Latest News

September 18, 2019: Closing in on release

We are days away from the September 20th release date, and we are ready for it! After the update from the Nintendo Direct and the footage at Gamescom, this title is one to get excited about with the polished HD graphics, remastered soundtrack, and new game elements like the Dungeon Maker. Releasing same day is the Link's Awakening amiibo, which will add to your Dungeon Maker experience.

September 4, 2019: Recap on Nintendo Direct

A 40-minute Nintendo Direct gave us the latest news on Link's Awakening. We got a great recap of what's to come and a second look at gameplay. Link's Awakening's release is a little over two weeks away.

August 22, 2019: New gameplay revealed at Gamescom 2019

The release date is just around the corner, but Gamescom has brought us a more in-depth look at the game-play for Link's Awakening. We get a look at the beautiful character design, listen to the amazing soundtrack, and really get a chance to see how the game works. Plus, we get to see the new Dungeon Maker!

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a top-down action-adventure and puzzle game that originally released for the Game Boy in 1993. A re-release, called Link's Awakening DX, was made for the Game Boy Color a few years later, but since then Nintendo hasn't touched the title... until now.

When Nintendo announced the remake, my Zelda-loving soul drifted back to 1993 when the game was first released on the Game Boy. As the first installment on a hand-held, Link's Awakening paved the way for many classic Legend of Zelda tropes we know and love today. Set on the mysterious Koholint Island, Link is on his first adventure outside of Hyrule, and there's no mention of Princess Zelda or the Triforce. There are also several appearances from characters outside the Zelda series, but from other Nintendo titles, and frequent breaking of the fourth wall.

What this game did feature was many exciting dungeon crawls, clever gameplay mechanics, and a refreshing new take on the series. It was also the first to have a trading sequence — so if you want to thank one game for that Biggoron Sword series in Ocarina of Time, thank Link's Awakening.

It's what you'd expect for a classic Zelda game — an exciting action-adventure that perfectly marries overworld exploration and side-scrolling sequences. You can collect seashells for a prize, take part in some quirky mini-games, and map out this mysterious island.

Of course, this game was limited by the number of buttons on the Game Boy. Players could only equip items to the A and B buttons. This added a layer of difficulty since your arsenal needs to be switched often to solve puzzles in the dungeon. It was still incredibly fun with just the right amount of challenge. How could this game get any better?

What is the story of Link's Awakening?

Following the events of A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link is on a ship at sea when a terrible storm destroys the boat and throws him to the waves. He washes up on Koholint Island, which houses Mt. Tamaranch at its center. At the top of Mt. Tamaranch is a giant egg that contains the Wind Fish, which Link is told he must awaken to leave Koholint Island and return home. To awaken the Wind Fish, Link will need to collect eight Instruments of the Sirens from across the island.

How do you play?

Link's Awakening is similar to other top-down Legend of Zelda adventures. Link is equipped with his trusty sword that he can use to fight off enemies and at first, that's all he'll have. As he progresses, he'll find other useful items that will allow him to more easily defeat certain types of enemies as well as solve puzzles and unlock previously gated areas. Finding secrets and defeating powerful enemies will give Link more heart containers, which will increase his health and allow him to survive longer and withstand stronger attacks.

Link's Awakening features an open overworld full of enemies, secrets, puzzles, and obstacles that also hides eight dungeons. Link can explore the open world freely and visit the dungeons, with the aim of defeating the boss inside each one to progress. Dungeons will increase in difficulty and need to be done in a set order, as Link will need to acquire certain items to access later dungeons.

The game also includes a few mechanics that aren't in other top-down Zelda games. For one, Link can jump across gaps, which he isn't always able to do in other games. Another key one is that some sections of Link's Awakening flip the camera to create 2D platforming sections.. .that even include cameos from characters in the Mario series!

What can we expect from the remake?

From the game demos and trailers, we expect that this game, like all Zelda games, will look stunning. The developers took a page from Link Between Worlds and Windwaker to create a light-hearted design. Koholint Island has never been so bright (sorry Link's Awakening DX). These toy-like character models breathe new life into the classic world as it is completely redone. The Zelda series has been known to take risks with their art style, but this new design seems to capture the spirit of the original.

In addition to a graphics upgrade, the soundtrack has gotten dusted off a bit in a "reawakened" re-release. The ballad of the Windfish and the remix of the classic Overworld Theme are both delightful. Plus, there's a whole new and improved set of sound effects. Link will actually have a voice! As for the game mechanics, what we hope to get is a wonderful reimagining with some exciting new twists.

Exciting new details

Along with a whole new look, Link's Awakening is jumping into a polished set of game mechanics. While the original only had two action buttons on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color respectively, the Switch has plenty of buttons to take advantage of. The new design may be off-putting to veterans of the series since switching items was part of the challenge. However, the new game promises to bring a balance to the older and newer mechanics for a refreshed gaming experience. Plus, managing your inventory just got a lot easier.

Another great feature new to the Switch remake is the addition of "Memories." This function lets players recall important conversations in the game should they get stuck or need a reminder of where they need to be. Personally, I hope this means they've removed the "unskippable" warning message that popped up every time you touched a pot and didn't have the Power Bracelet equipped.

Of course, a lot of the original game had to be redone. The transformation from 2D to 3D evolved Link's Awakening into an entirely new adventure. With this change, players will be able to view Link from different camera angles rather than a fixed frame, and screen transitions are much smoother. The mini-games have also received a complete redesign, so players should expect a little something new with fishing, rafting, and the trendy game.

Zelda Dungeon Maker

The newest addition to Link's Awakening is the Dungeon Maker that allows you to build a dungeon for you and your friends to traverse. Players can unlock different dungeon chambers by playing through the main quest. Once they are unlocked, they can be arranged in different, customizable layouts for a brand new dungeon experience. The chambers are pre-designed and each has unique features. In the Chamber Dungeon menu, you'll be able to see what each of your acquired rooms offers, from chests and stairs to locked doors. All of the chambers are organized by the type of room and the number of exits.

You can create your dungeon any way you like, but the chambers appear to be copies of rooms players will have already explored. Create your dungeon to your dark vision complete with an entrance, boss room, and challenges. Players have to arrange them to complete objectives such as filling all the titles on the map. While the Dungeon Maker mode is customizable, players don't have full reign, like in Super Mario Maker 2. The chambers have to match up, and you can't add locked doors without adding a key first.

The game has you play through your creation, and it also has a timer. Before you can challenge your friends to complete your dungeon, you have to complete it yourself. To complete your ultimate dungeon, you can unlock chambers defeating in-game dungeons and playing mini-games.

Will it have features from the original and Game Boy Color remake?

When Link's Awakening DX came out in 1998, it managed to take what players loved from the original and add to it. However, that doesn't mean that the newest remake for the Switch will do the same thing. While Nintendo hasn't mentioned if Link's Awakening will retain every detail, like the Camera Shop and the hidden pictures, some features will be included in the remake.

The Mario cameos and side-scrolling dungeon sections will remain in the new Link's Awakening. Also, the Color Dungeon featured in the DX Game Boy Color version will also be in the game. And while it hasn't been "officially" confirmed, the screenshot above is a good hint that "THEIFs" may be able to steal from the item shop.

Yes! Not only will it support amiibo, but Nintendo is releasing a Link's Awakening inspired figure. The adorable toy-box style Link amiibo will unlock Shadow Link in the Chamber Dungeon mode. Any Legend of Zelda character is a compatible amiibo. They can be used to add "plus" effects to your dungeon chambers, as well as adding new chambers, in Dungeon Maker mode. Players can also use their amiibo for the minigames sections: the river rapids, fishing, or the trendy game. The Link's Awakening amiibo releases on September 20th, along with the game's launch.

When can I get it?

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is planned for release exclusively on Nintendo Switch on September 20th, 2019. It's available for pre-order today!

Any questions?

Still have lingering questions about The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on Nintendo Switch? Ask them in the comments below!

Update: Sept 18, 2019, with the latest Nintendo Direct news.

Sara Gitkos

Sara is the Freelance Coordinator, writer, and editor at iMore. When not editing or writing away, she's glued to her Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or PS5, though she's a retro gamer at heart.