The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – 2019 (Review)

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is an action-adventure game that was released in September 2019 for Nintendo Switch, it’s a remake of the 1993 version that was released in 1993 on the Nintendo Gameboy.

This game sees Link washed up on the shore of Koholint Island after his ship is caught in a storm and destroyed. Link soon embarks on a quest to retrieve the eight musical instruments of the Sirens and to awaken the legendary Wind Fish in order for him to leave the island. This remake has updated visuals in a top-down cartoony style that lends it a certain charm. One addition to this game that wasn’t in the original is the ability to create your own dungeons and complete them for rewards.

Link’s Awakening is in a style that will be familiar to fans of the series. You are able to explore an open world and battle through dungeons to gain hearts and gear. Each dungeon has a number of puzzles for you to complete as well as bosses to fight.

I’ve been a fan of the Zelda series of games for most of my life, but somehow I missed the original version of Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy so I went into this game with an open mind with none of the nostalgia that other players might. I’ve always preferred the top-down Zelda games, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the 3D games like Twilight Princess or Breath of the Wild, but there’s something about the top-down perspective that I love, it dates back to A Link to the Past which, if you follow my blogs, you will know is one of my favourite games of all time. The design of the game is, let’s say, cute, but this cartoon-like style works so well, it’s not a million miles away from the way it looked on the Gameboy (obviously it has more colour), and so takes me back to the older games in a similar way that A Link Between Worlds did.

The gameplay is similar to pretty much every other Zelda game – other than maybe Breath of the Wild ­– in that, you explore the world freely, but mainly have to hop from dungeon to dungeon and defeat bosses while gaining gear to open up other areas of the map and dungeons. Some players might feel like it’s a tired format, but it works, and if it works then where’s the problem? One thing I did enjoy about this game is the references to the Mario games. It ranges from images or objects of characters/enemies, to side-scrolling sections that look like small Mario levels. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does have a decent story that keeps you playing.

I’m pretty biased as far as Zelda games go, I’ll always play them where I can and generally enjoy them. I say this despite the fact that it did take a little while to finally get into Breath of the Wild and I couldn’t really tell you why. But Link’s Awakening brings the games back to the style of games that I grew up with and will always go back to. This game deserves a 10/10 from me and a definite recommendation.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors: It Has Risen Again

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a run and gun game that was released for the SNES and Sega Megadrive/Genesis back in 1993.

In the game, you take control of one of two protagonists, Zeke, a 3D glasses-wearing boy, or Julie, a baseball cap-wearing girl, in order to rescue neighbors from hordes of zombies that want to eat their brains. To accomplish their mission, they have a variety of weapons that include but are not limited to; a water gun, soda can grenades, silverware and ice lollies, along with various power-ups such as health kits, clown doll decoys and potions that turn you into a big purple monster – because why not? As you traverse each level, you fight various enemies that range from the titular zombies, evil dolls, werewolves, chainsaw wielding madmen and even a giant baby – yes, a giant baby.

When this game was first released back in 1993, we got it for our SNES and even though I was only young at the time – 8 to be exact – I was hooked from the beginning. The cartoony graphics and the weird characters kept me playing. With this being a two-play co-op game, I played alongside my brother (I was always Julie…) and we did our best at fighting our way through the levels.

Each level is harder than the last, and even as early as level 4 or 5, the difficulty seemed to spike, and I just ended up dead more often than not. Even still, I loved this game. I would play often, and even though there were no save files back then and you relied on getting a passcode at certain points in the game, I would happily reply the same levels repeatedly because I enjoyed it so much.

When I rebought a SNES, Zombies was one of the first games that I knew that I had to have, and when it finally arrived, I spent hours playing. I still wasn’t great at it, but I had definitely improved since childhood – I was so happy to be playing it again.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been thinking about Zombies for a few weeks now and decided that I would write a blog about it and my love for it. When I was doing some research, however, I found out that at the end of June this year, it was re-released for the Switch and Xbox – it was supposed to be released for PS4 too, but I can’t find any trace of it, so I don’t know what happened there.

When I looked it up on the Nintendo store, I found that it was only just over £11, and it even came with its sequel, Ghoul Patrol ( I didn’t even know there was a sequel.) For that price, I wasn’t willing to hang around and bought it straight away. However, I relished the opportunity to play it on a modern console.

It took me a day or so to finally sit down and play it, but when I did, all of those memories were there once again.

Now, this re-release isn’t a remaster. Nothing has been done to the game save adapting it for the generation of consoles. The display is still 4:3, but to fill the gap at the edges of the screen, you get a border very similar to the ones that you get on any of the mini consoles. This doesn’t detract from the game – I guess it’s just there to fill up some empty space. One change, though, is that you now have the ability to save your progress on exit. This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean you can save at any time and pick up where you left off if you die. If you lose all your lives, you’re straight back to the beginning. You still have to rely on the passcodes given after certain stages. But, this – as in the original – comes with a cost as if you use a code, you start on that level with only your base water gun, so this may make some of the later levels nigh on impossible, so it’s probably easier to go back to the start.

The game is just as difficult as its original version. There are no different difficulty settings; you either play it as is or not at all. So far, I’ve only made it to the Big Baby level – you know the one I mean – but when I restart, I’m already blasting through the earlier levels quicker than I ever have. Could the difficulty of the levels have been altered? Yes. Should it have been? Absolutely not. The game is perfect the way it is, and part of that is the challenge of it.

Now onto Ghoul Patrol. This was released in 1994 only a year after Zombies for the SNES.

I’m not as familiar with this title as I am with its predecessor as I didn’t even know it existed until getting this new bundle, so I went into it with an open mind, and my first impressions weren’t great.

So, you play as the same characters as in Zombies, but they appear to be slightly older. The game’s main premise seems to be exactly the same, traverse levels, save people, and kill bad guys. There have been some new additions, though, that just don’t seem to work very well. For example, you now have the ability to jump and slide, this comes into play in some platformy bits of levels, but all just feel very clunky.

The art style is very similar to the first game, just maybe a little more cartoony; this also doesn’t really work. To me, everything seems bigger and more exaggerated and just isn’t conducive to play.

I’ll admit I’ve not given Ghoul Patrol a lot of time to impress me, and I will have to play it some more to be able to give a proper opinion on it, but first impressions do matter.

Overall this sequel feels like half an idea that was finished – so, does that make a quarter of an idea? Maybe. I don’t know. But I digress.

Zombies will always have a place in my heart, and I think it will be one that I will go back to time and time again; this probably won’t be true with its sequel.

But having said all this, getting both games for less than £12 and the ability to play it on a large flat – non CRT – screen on new hardware is well worth it. So if you were a fan of the original or if you just like the sound of it, I’d say give this re-release a go.

That’s it for now; I’m off to try and take down that damn giant baby.

Standing the Test of Time: The Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is a 16-bit cartridge-based home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan (known as the Super Famicom)and South Korea (known as the Super Comboy), 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Oceania, and 1993 in South America. It was the second Nintendo home console – following the NES – and brought more advanced graphics and sound than was available with other consoles on the market at the time.

The SNES was the seconds Nintendo console that we, as a family-owned, unlike the NES – which I mentioned in a previous blog both my brother and I got – we had to share the SNES.

From the first game that I played (Super Mario World), I loved this console. The graphics were so much better than I had ever seen, the bright colours drew me in, and I got lost in this new Mario game. I loved how different it was to the Super Mario Bros. that I had played on the NES. Yes, it was very similar gameplay wise, but the look and feel of it were so much better. It felt a lot cleaner without the pixelated sprites – although I do love a good pixel sprite – and the world’s felt so much deeper with prettier backgrounds and clearer sound.

I don’t know how long it was before we got any more games for the console, but there some that always stand out for me, namely; Street Fighter II, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (one of my all-time favourite games), Super Mario Kart, Starwing (or Star Fox), Super Bomberman, F-Zero. Of course, I could go on and list a tonne more games that I loved on this console.

Some games I played on my own, others I played with my brother. I wasn’t very good at most two-player games – I got beaten regularly – but that didn’t stop me from playing them. I would spend hours fighting through Hyrule or trying in vain to perfect Blanka’s moveset. I loved pretty much every game I played on the SNES. I can’t think of any other console that I can say that for.

As I loved playing Duck Hunt on the NES, when the Super Scope was released, I couldn’t wait to play it. I was obviously a lot shorter back then so I had to adjust the sensor after anyone else used it. The games although simple, were addictive and I would spend my time trying to get the high scores – although I never could.

At the time we had the SNES we still had our NES, plus handhelds like the Gameboy or the Gamegear, but this console trumped all, and at every opportunity I would be playing on it.

Over the years, the SNES has been a console that I will go back to time and time again and now stands pride of place on my retro console shelves alongside its newer released mini counterpart.

Some games on some consoles don’t stand the test of time, but for me, the SNES and its games don’t look any worse today than they did when they were released. Of course, there are some games, Starwing for example, that because they were using new technology at the time, when compared to games now, they look very basic and they have aged slightly worse. But games like Mario and Zelda look as great today as they ever have.

When you look at when the SNES was released and how long its lifespan stretches, it’s amazing that back in and around 1996, it was up against more advanced consoles like the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Games like Donkey Kong Country allowed the console to hold its own against 32-bit consoles.

Although the production of the consoles in North America was ceased in 1999, in Japan, it was still produced up until 2003; this was almost up until the release of the PlayStation 2. This just shows how popular and well-loved this particular Nintendo console was and is.

The SNES still has a broad fan base – of which I’m a member – and I can’t see that changing any time soon.

My current collection of SNES games is relatively small – although it does include some of my later favourites; Zombies Ate My Neighbours, Pilotwings, Blues Brothers, Super Smash TV and Cannon Fodder – I do plan on growing it when I can.

Long live the SNES!

What are your memories of the great Super Nintendo? Share your favourite games with me.

The Joy of the NES

The Nintendo Entertainment System or NES was released back in the ’80s and was the first console that I ever owned – we did have a Commodore 64 as well, but I have no idea when that was bought.

My NES was given to me for Christmas. I remember the day when both me and brother unwrapped our console (apparently we weren’t very good at sharing) although I don’t know how old I was – I’m going to go with I was either 2 or 3…maybe…who knows.

We got the bundle that had Mario Bros., and I spent the remainder of the day playing that – even though at that age I really couldn’t play it well to save my life…who am I kidding? I still can’t.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I loved that console. I would spend hours playing Mario and eventually other games.

Despite having our own consoles, my brother and I would regularly play together. If we played Mario, I would be relegated to playing as Luigi, which probably made me like him more than I do Mario now. I was happy to be the taller green dude – a cosplay that I might actually be able to pull off.

We eventually had quite the library of games, and at times – like now – it was difficult for me to choose what to play. A couple of my favourite games were based on some toys that I collected at the time; Micro Machines and Monster in my Pocket.

As with Mario, I spent hours playing these games with both my brother and my dad, and as with Mario, I wasn’t very good at them.

Duck Hunt was another of my favourite games that we had – we only bought this, later on, my mum didn’t like the idea of it having a gun controller. But I loved Duck Hunt, and I was actually good at it! I spent ages shooting ducks and shouting at the dog for laughing at me when I missed – damn you!

The NES was a permanent fixture in our house for many years, it would be plugged into the old CRT TV in the lounge, and I would play while my parents watched.

I have no idea when we got rid of our NES’ – they probably ended up going to a car boot and being sold to some lucky person.

When I decided I was going to collect retro consoles, the NES was one of the first ones I wanted to get. I’d have to buy all the games for it again, but I had to get it when I found a cheap one on eBay.

My rebought NES now sits with all my other retro consoles in the game room – well, it will when they’re unpacked from their boxes when we’ve moved (I can’t wait for that.)

It will take me a while to rebuild my game collection, mainly because people are charging a fortune for some of them.

Not long after I bought my NES, the Mini NES was released, so I figured why not?

The Mini NES was a mini version – no kidding – of the NES that comes with 30 preinstalled games, some of which I’d never played and would cost a lot if I were to try to buy physical copies for the original NES.

Along with the Mini SNES and Commodore 64, the NES sits happily on my shelves as a reminder of some truly excellent games.

All in all, the NES was a brilliant introduction to the world of consoles, and it will also stick in my mind for that reason.

What are your memories of the NES? What games did you enjoy playing on this system?

It. Is. Done.

I’ve finally just finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Although it took me a while to actually get round to playing it due to reason I said about in a previous blog I find that now I’ve finished it in at a bit of a loss and I really can’t wait for the sequel.

Breath of the Wild is a huge and extremely beautiful game, and the number of hours that I put into finishing it seemed to fly by.

Over my playthrough I did most of the quests if not all and all the shrines. These extra little dungeons really added that little bit different to the game. Although some are frustrating – I’m looking at you motion-controlled maze – they’re fun and also help towards buildup Link either in health or stamina, so they’re well worth doing.

I was almost tempted when I got the point of having done the Divine Beasts of rushing straight to Ganon but putting the time into the shrines gives a good pay off, plus you get a little something after doing them all that old-school Zelda fans will appreciate.

I wish I’d played it sooner now that I’ve finished it, but at least there’s less time between it and the sequel now. I just hope my Switch continues to work so I might actually buy it.

I would definitely recommend this game to anyone, lovers of Zelda games or not.