Link's Awakening | Wind Fish Mural

Amazing VGM: Face Shrine (The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening)

It just now occurred to me that I have not covered a Zelda song in either Amazing VGM or its predecessor I wrote on that site that will not be acknowledged. I actually just beat the Switch version of Link’s Awakening about a month ago, and I enjoyed it, but I won’t be reviewing it given that I’m too behind on shit to write reviews for, and that this is one of those games that has been reviewed to death. In short, I’m not reviewing it because I have too much on my plate already, and wanted to prioritize the games I felt like talking about more.

But it’s also that I don’t have overly strong opinions on Link’s Awakening. It wasn’t bad or anything, and I enjoyed it, but I also wouldn’t include it among my favorites in the series.I’m sure there is some irony in that a site called Guardian Acorn isn’t covering the game that it’s namesake came from, but there is thankfully another game with a guardian acorn in it that I’m going to be reviewing in the near future. I bet you can’t guess which game it is though.

The track is fairly simplistic. It’s the same eight note scale replayed at varying volumes and gradually changing, conveying a sense of unease and emptiness. This track is most effective given the context of when it is played. The player explore the Face Shrine after the revelation that Koholint Island and all its inhabitants will disappear once Link wakes the Wind Fish… which is what the entire goal of the game is.

While the game as a whole doesn’t grab me considering that the characters are rather flat and I know next to nothing about them, this section of the game does an amazing job at immersing the player in Link’s shoes. But of course, the original track isn’t all that impressive on its own, and I wouldn’t even be making this piece if not for the mind blowing remix in the Switch version.

It is quite perplexing to me that one of the best remakes of all time is for a game I’m not especially crazy about. I can tell that the Switch version of Link’s Awakening was not a simple asset update. I can only imagine that the team of this remake must have been made up of the biggest fanboys of the original, the ones who would agonize over every detail and enhance the aspects that I don’t even know if the original intended.

This is especially apparent in the music. A lot of arrangements of soundtracks from retro games don’t put a lot of thought into it. This track would be nowhere near as effective if it was just the original track with a MIDI. Instead, we get something that pierces the player with an overwhelming sense of grief and emptiness. If this remake was released when I made my Saddest Video Game Songs Countdown, there’s a decent chance that it may have made the list instead of ‘Farewell Hyrule King.” Granted part of me may still lean toward “Farewell Hyrule King,” but it would have been a tough choice.

The instrumentation of this track is simply superb. The harmony is amazing, and it captures the feeling of grief and loss perfectly (and having been through that, I know fully well what it feels like), and the way they implemented the unaltered original into this track, absolute genius.

But what really makes this track so impactful is that it plays throughout the entire dungeon. It makes you imagine the sense of grief that Link must be facing when he can’t take his mind off the person he loves disappearing forever, even while he’s trying to avoid monsters and deadly traps. It really takes some strong talent to put someone in the shoes of a character who doesn’t speak a single word or show any emotion.

Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons look even less interesting to me than Link’s Awakening, but I will feel inclined to support the hell out of a them if they get a remake in this style. Hell there is part of me that wants to reconsider reviewing this game after I just heaped all this powerful praise on it, but my schedule is pretty packed. I will think it through though.

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