Link's Awakening on the Switch kinda still looks like a Game Boy game

So hey did y'all see this Link's Awakening or what.

Man pretty rad huh.  I love that we've finally hit a point where 2D remakes like this aren't trapped on the 3DS, and can really benefit from the processing power of modern console hardware.  Behold!  Nintendo's flagship box cranking out this... rinky-dink lookin thing?

I mean let's be real, this is gorgeous, so bright and smooth with this slick tilt-shift blur going on.  But it's also not really what you might expect from a modern remake of a beloved classic, with its almost plastic-looking characters and a Link who looks like he popped out of a matryoshka doll.  There's an argument to be made that the original game was similarly abstract, but really any Game Boy game of that era would look that way, technical limitations drove many artistic decisions.

What they've chosen to do here, though, doesn't treat those limitations as something to necessarily cast aside wholesale.  I think what we're getting is less a remake of "Link's Awakening" and more a remake of "Link's Awakening: The Game Boy Game."  The tilt-shift making things look like miniatures, the toy-like music, the abstraction in character and enemy models.  I think Nintendo's actually trying to evoke the sensation of playing something "small."

Link's Awakening was surely a fully-fledged adventure, but it was also a very limited scope. The single island, the side-story plot, the LTTP-inspired design yet-constrained by the two piddling buttons on the Game Boy. I don't think the devs want to lose that feeling in the transition to the Switch, so there's been a focus on how to use the Power of Bigs to maintain that sense of small.  This game was Link's portable debut (if we ignore the Zelda Game & Watch game, which we do), and I think they want to play into that legacy.  We've only seen a little bit, but I think they're doin a pretty admirable job.

It doesn't hurt that Link's Awakening's entire conceit is that of a dream-like world, and providing a visual so distinct from its more traditionally-styled animated opening feels appropriate.  I know some people are concerned that the thematically darker places the game goes near the end may not be well represented with this art style, but I think it'll be alright.  Those original Game Boy sprites sold the melancholy of the ending just fine, and it's not like you can't tell an emotionally-resonant story play-acted by toys.  I feel like there might even be a few movies that do exactly that hm what could I be remembering.  OH

Anyway I'm into it.  It's a fun take after Breath of the Wild's more sprawling sensibilities that seems to faithfully represent the original's goofy feel and necessarily limited scope.  I'm interested to see what they add to really differentiate it from the original in a gameplay arena, since it looks almost slavishly identical structurally right now.  Even if it's entirely unchanged, though, the original is beloved for a reason.  The new style alone may be enough to carry it.

And look at Link's face there, so tiny yet so earnest. I want to wrap him up in a little sweater and carry him around in a purse.

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  3. We all had that nightmare, years ago. A fevered, flop-sweat vision of a future we dared not believe could come to pass. "Nintendo making mobile games." Jesus! I still shudder. The benefits of Nintendo sticking to their own hardware have been well argued, and at the very LEAST we enthusiast game-doers place value on buttons. The notion of Nintendo going multi-platform in the very worst way was not a pleasant one.
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