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 Link's Awakening Ultra Deluxe!
#1
I just got this in.  It's an amazing recreation so far, not afraid to alter area layout where it won't impact anything.  I haven't gone too far, but a couple very quick observations.

I love the art style, the "toys in a diorama" style of the game is adorable and perfectly captures the look of the sprites in the original.  The music is also top notch, they remade every tune faithfully.  Yes, this includes the ZELDA cheat in file select.  Also, for the first time in the US, they brought in Totakeke's hidden song.  There's already one in richard's villa, but if you name your character Totakeke it'll play a distinct one.  This one was in the Japanese version but unfortunately got dummied out in the US version (I think it was just overlooked).  The map layout is very much the same, though with one big change. There's no more "scrolling in" the new areas when you reach the border. It always was just one big world, and now the game is rendered that way. You can even see some enemies on the beach while standing next to Ulrira's house. The one complaint I'll give is the odd stylistic choice to blur the very top and bottom of the screen.  Since it's a 2D overhead game, rather than give some sense of "camera realism", it's actually a big distraction which also gets in the way of seeing certain details if they're on that part of the screen.

A few things to note.  First of all, yes all the game references are there.  Mr. Wright of Sim City is still in, Luigi the rooster master is still in, the Peach photo is in there, and all the little enemy references are accounted for.

It also looks like the "bikini top to necklace" localization change from the Gameboy game is officially across all regions now.  That kind of humor looks like it's just not in keeping with Nintendo's current standards in Japan either.

There's loads more seashells in the game.  This enables someone to get the level 2 sword a lot easier, but on the flip side for the completionists, it adds a whole lot of new seashells to find, so it all evens out.

The DX content is also in the game.  The added dungeon hints are still present for better or worse, and they've kept the "owl beak" aesthetic for the hint stones in the dungeons.  The color dungeon is also still there, which is very welcome!  However, the photo album quest was scrapped entirely.  Dampe's dungeon fun house has replaced the photo studio.  It's a shame they couldn't just leave the old content in, since the photo moments added to both gameplay and "slice of life" moments in the game.

Then there's the controls. Thanks to all the extra buttons on the Switch, the controls are (for the most part) far superior here. The shield, sword, and dash boots all get buttons assigned to them, leaving X and Y as your extra item buttons. A now functions as a context sensitive button allowing you to examine, talk, and pick things up. It's a lot like LTTP in that regard, only with the map assigned to Select to free up an additional button for all those fun item combos. When combined with the lack of "loading areas" on the side of each screen in favor of one big cohesive exploring experience, the game becomes a lot more "playable". It's going to be hard to go back to the Gameboy version after this, frankly. Sorry ABF, you "press L + R to start" once again.  However, there's a bigger annoyance for me personally.  I had got the impression that this game allowed all-direction running since, well, it's a 3D game and art assets would easily work with that and also it's what they did in Link Between Worlds.  However, it's only got 8 direction running.  That would be fine I suppose, except I can't use the d-pad to move in the game!  So, it's got 8 way direction awkwardly mapped to the analog stick and only the analog stick.  It's not a good fit.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#2
I don't have this yet, but from what I've seen and heard it looks fantastic. The changes sound like they make the game a lot easier, though, which is an issue. Having the sword and shield at all times would pretty dramatically change Link's Awakening, though -- I mean, part of the challenge and fun of this game is having to go without those some of the time... but now you have the sword and shield all the time with no issue. That would make this game pretty different and easier, and probably a bit less interesting too. Other changes make the game easier too, from the added heart containers to get to the bottles, etc.

Now, Link's Awakening was a game I found pretty hard back in 1994-1995 when I first played it when I was 12, but that was the first Zelda game I owned and we didn't have regular internet access at home yet (though we would later that year) so I had to figure most everything out myself. It took me a few months, if I remember. Obviously by the time I finished the game four or five times it got a lot easier, but I've always thought of it s a somewhat challenging game, like all the classic Zelda games are. It's far from the hardest certainly, and probably is easier than the three main series titles before it (on NES and SNES), but presents a reasonable challenge. This remake, though, sounds like it's much easier than the original and that is kind of a shame. Always having the sword and shield makes it much easier, but there's also the additional hints, heart containers as I said earlier, etc. I've heard that they put a hard mode of sorts in, but it mostly just means enemies almost never drop health? That sounds annoying, not the good kind of difficulty...

So yeah, the game's surely amazingly fun, but I imagine I'd still prefer the original. I mean, I've always assumed I'd like the original more than this remake, but is making it that much easier really a good thing? I'm sure people who were so annoyed by having to constantly switch items much prefer this version, but that never bothered me much so that isn't a big deal for me. ... maybe I'm just looking for reasons to prefer the original and I do like what I've seen of the remakes' graphics and music, but it is worth mentioning.

Also, why in the world do you have to move with the analog stick? That's an insane decision in this kind of game!

It is fantastic they remade of the the best games ever and that now there are people just discovering how incredible Link's Awakening is for the first time, and I will definitely get and play this version eventually, but it'll never replace how amazing the original B&W version is for me.
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#3
The only "challenge" not having the sword and shield presents is that you have to constantly pause the game to get them. You still have the sword and shield whenever you want in the original, it's just that every 5 seconds a player has to pause the game to switch. I didn't actually grasp how much this got in the way of the flow of the game until I didn't have to any more. Don't worry ABF, it doesn't reduce the challenge, it just makes it easier to control. I mean, I suppose it comes down to how one played the original game. In the original, any time, and I mean ANY time I had to use a different item, I paused, switched to the item, used the item, then paused, switched back to the sword and shield, and kept playing. Rinse wash repeat, forever. I suppose if you found that flow breaking enough that you'd rather just keep the secondary items around for a while than have to pause again, then yes, it would add to the challenge, but that's just not how I played the game. This, for me, is basically the way I was playing the original game but without constant pausing.

There IS a new chime to alert you when there are secret seashells around, but you can disable that chime the very moment you get it. This really only matters to you and me because there are 50 secret seashells now, and so there are many we don't know the location of. The hints in dungeons haven't been expanded from the DX game, they are just the DX ones again, so that hasn't been reduced in challenge, at least any more than the original. Again, I can't say how much those added hints reduce the challenge of the dungeons, because I had already memorized the layouts and puzzles of Link's Awakening before the DX version had even come out. For me, they could litter the dungeons with new hints and it wouldn't affect the challenge, but for new players? It's hard for me to say "just don't use the hints", because ONE of those hints is the original cryptic hint from the first version of the game, and how the heck do you tell people which one that one is without spoiling it?

Anyway, all in all the game isn't really any easier than the DX version. Yes, getting the L2 sword is easier in the sense that there's a lot more secret seashells, but finding all the seashells is now a lot harder.

I somehow had missed that there's a bunch of new heart pieces in the game. Yes, that certainly makes the game easier if you get them all. There is also a Hero Mode, so if you really want to make up for it, play on that mode.

Oh, and yes the analog stick requirement is pretty annoying. It would be one thing if the new version allowed full 360 degrees of movement. Then I'd welcome the analog stick gladly! However, since it's still locked to 8 way movement, the d-pad would be far better.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#4
Quote: The only "challenge" not having the sword and shield presents is that you have to constantly pause the game to get them. You still have the sword and shield whenever you want in the original, it's just that every 5 seconds a player has to pause the game to switch. I didn't actually grasp how much this got in the way of the flow of the game until I didn't have to any more. Don't worry ABF, it doesn't reduce the challenge, it just makes it easier to control. I mean, I suppose it comes down to how one played the original game. In the original, any time, and I mean ANY time I had to use a different item, I paused, switched to the item, used the item, then paused, switched back to the sword and shield, and kept playing. Rinse wash repeat, forever. I suppose if you found that flow breaking enough that you'd rather just keep the secondary items around for a while than have to pause again, then yes, it would add to the challenge, but that's just not how I played the game. This, for me, is basically the way I was playing the original game but without constant pausing.
See, I didn't do that. I remember only sporadically using the shield in LA -- I liked having a weapon (sword most of the time, but maybe the bow, rod, boomerang, or such instead, sometimes) and the Roc's Feather best, I think. Being able to jump was great! LA does have the first good shield in the franchise -- remember, before LA the shields protected from many fewer things -- but it balanced that by making you not always have it. I've always really liked that LA doesn't make you use the sword and shield all of the time, and was hoping that if it ever got a remake they'd just add more buttons you could equip items to. Unfortunately, they instead decided to standardize LA's controls by removing that choice and locking the sword and shield to buttons, like most Zelda games not on GB/GBC do. Oh well...


As for hints, I guess I'd recommend that people try to not use the hints, but if they feel they need them go ahead, they're in the game to help. You don't need them,
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#5
Um, they DID give you more buttons. They gave you all the buttons. That's exactly what they did. How would giving you all these buttons not reduce difficulty but locking them in as common actions does?
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#6
They gave you more buttons, but added in buttons locked to only the sword and shield, unlike the original; you can't un-equip those items, unfortunately. Why force players to always have the sword and shield equipped? It may be because LA was my first Zelda game, but I've always thought that LA's system, where you can equip or un-equip any item, is better than the other games; I like being able to equip anything to any button, and always have. I know the GB did things that way because of wanting lots of functions on very limited buttons, but I've always liked the results... like, why can't you equip other things to A and B in the N64 games and beyond? But no, they're locked to the sword and shield only. Too bad.
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#7
You had two buttons to assign before and two buttons to assign now, so really you're not losing anything, though you may be onto something about expanding the other buttons to allow mapping to various functions. I can safely say I would have appreciated using LZ and RZ for something. I can say this though, A being "pick up" makes a lot of sense, and there's really no reason to ever even WANT to unequip that. A really should be a generalized context sensitive interact button.

Ideally, I think they want to get to the point where you never have to pause the game and every function has a dedicated button or button combo. Breath of the Wild was a big step in that direction.

And yet still, we can both agree that in the absense of full 360 degree movement, they absolutely should be letting you use that d-pad for it.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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