The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that has spanned the last 30 years of video game history, appearing on every Nintendo home console in some form or fashion. The series first went “small” in a big way 25 years ago, with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy.
The game was the fourth entry for the franchise, and the first game to be made for a handheld system. It was actually developed initially as a simple port of the SNES title A Link to the Past, though it was reworked to be an entirely new game.
Link’s Awakening begins with Link’s ship capsizing in a thunderstorm, and the hero washing up on Koholint Island. There, Link meets two villagers, Tarin and Marin, who treat his wounds and nurse him back to health. Link soon learns from an odd owl that the island is protected by a mysterious being known as the Wind Fish, who sleeps inside of a massive egg on top of a mountain, and in order to journey home, he must gather the eight instruments of the Sirens and wake the Wind Fish. Throughout his quest to leave the island, Link forms a strong bond with Marin and many other villagers, and also discovers clues regarding the actual nature of Koholint Island.
The game marked a number of firsts for the Zelda series. It was the first entry to not be set in the land of Hyrule, and was also the first in which the titular Princess Zelda did not appear at all (though she is mentioned). It also contained a number of humorous cameos from other Nintendo titles, including Yoshi, Kirby, and SimCity’s Dr. Wright.
Link’s Awakening proved to be a huge success for Nintendo, and the game has often been called the best Game Boy title ever released. Its critical success translated to commercial success as well, and it’s credited with an uptick in sales for the Game Boy system by more than 10% in 1993. An upgraded edition in full-color arrived for the Game Boy Color in 1998, adding some additional dungeons and other features to the game, and the game has also been ported to the Nintendo Virtual Console service as well.