When Nintendo introduced the Game Boy Color in 1998 they needed a smash hit game for the console in order to punch up sales. A new Zelda title would be perfect, but to make a good Zelda game commonly requires years and years of work. Nintendo needed a hit now. What to do? How about take a previously released title and upgrade it for color? Nintendo took the Game Boy classic The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening and gave it a color facelift as well as added some new features and surprises. The basic quest is identical - there are no new plot twists and the gameplay is unchanged - but Nintendo added some special enhancements that make the game worth playing again.

The biggest change, of course, is the colorization of the original game. Moving beyond the realm of even what the Super Game Boy could do, this new rendition looks marginally close to the old Nintendo Entertainment System's capabilities. Grass is green, water is blue, dirt is brown. It's in color! To push the color abilities to the letter, a new special secret ninth dungeon level (known as "The Color Dungeon") was added and can be accessed through the graveyard after Link reaches a certain level. This dungeon features puzzles that are totally reliant on the player's ability to distinguish color, such as "move the red ball into the red square" and so forth. In fact, players playing on a plain old non-color Game Boy will be blocked from entering this dungeon. At the end of the dungeon a faerie will give Link the power of color: either a red jerkin or a blue one to replace his usual green one. Red gives Link an ever-present Piece of Power, while the blue gives him an ever-present Guardian Acorn. If Link wants to switch to the other jerkin, he must replay the color dungeon and find the faerie again.

Another new addition is the Camera Shop, a new building located in northeast Koholint Island that is the home of a mouse with a camera obsession. Similar to the Super NES game Earthbound, this mouse will appear when Link triggers a certain event and will take his photo. There are twenty-four triggers in the game, and each one will generate a new, detailed character art photograph. Players with a Game Boy Printer can print these out at the Camera Shop as well. Most triggers are activated by achieving certain unusual events, such as falling down certain holes while Marin is following Link. She will fall behind and land on his head, and the mouse will find that an amazing photo opportunity. Players can also view their photo album in the Camera Shop. Remember that these photos are in full color.

Nintendo also implemented a few minor changes. The stone slab in dungeons has been replaced with an owl's beak, while the stone with advice on it has been changed into an owl. This fits better with the whole "owl gives advice" motif. Some characters have extra dialogue as well, some of which makes the game easier. For example, the mad genie has an extra line that gives away the secret of defeating him.

While it may not be worth a purchase to those who have the original Game Boy version of the game, this update is well-worth it for Zelda newbies. It's not too old and is probably still found in the retail chain, but checking used game stores and online auctions is also a good idea. Dream on, Link!

Playing the game
Thanks to malcster for the idea for this writeup.

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