This was only the second Zelda game that I ever played – as you can imagine, I feel a great deal of nostalgia for it and I am very fond of it. However, I don’t think my fondness is entirely rooted in nostalgia. I think this is genuinely one of the best instalments in the series.
Something I really like about this game is that its story is very different from the others. Link is onboard a ship which sinks in a storm and he then wakes up on Koholint Island. He then gets caught up in the mysteries of this island and finds himself on a quest to awaken the Wind Fish, who sleeps within a giant egg on top of the mountain. It’s much smaller scale than a heroic quest to save a kingdom from a dark lord, but I find this quirky little tale rather charming.
The original Game Boy wasn’t a particularly powerful console and Koholint Island is broken up into a large number of screens which you tranisition between. Despite this the island comprises of beaches, mountains, forests, swamps, caves, rivers, graveyards and more. At the time, it felt amazing to have this miniature world contained within a Game Boy cartridge and to this day, it’s something which remains appealing to me. It’s really satisfying to explore every nook and cranny of the island as there are a lot of secrets to discover.
A part of what makes Koholint Island so charming, is the people who inhabit it. First there’s Marin, a kind hearted girl who helps you out when you first wash up on the beach. There’s her Mario-lookalike father, Tarin, who loves hunting for mushrooms. There’s a talking alligator who loves eating dog food. Syrup, a witch who lives in a crooked tree who can make magic powders for you. There’s also a whole village of talking animals, including a hippo who’s a model. It’s beautiful.
And guess what else? This island is full of Nintendo cameos. Shy Guys, Goombas and Piranha Plants all appear as enemies. An evil version of Kirby, named the Anti-Kirby, is another one. There’s also Mr. Write, an introverted man who loves writing letters, who is also quite literally just Dr. Wright from Sim City. There’s a lady who keeps pet Chain Chomps and part of the game (a really good bit) involves taking one for a walk. Wart the villain of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Doki Doki Panic is an NPC. I love this kind of stuff.
Besides all this, you have a solid Zelda adventure, which involves exploring various different dungeons in order to collect ancient instruments. Despite being in black and white and working with 8-bit graphics, the game succeeds in making each of the eight dungeons feel unique and distinct. A part of this comes down to the fact that each one has its own musical theme. Speaking of which, the game as a whole greatly benefits from its soundtrack – though 8-bit, it helps set a mysterious tone (sometimes veering on creepy), helping to intrigue you about the dark secrets of the island.
Overall, I think this is a great game. It’s also a little melancholy, for reasons I won’t get into just now to avoid spoiling it, but it’s only really comparable to Majora’s Mask in this regard. If you’re in the mood for a classic Zelda adventure, but one which also goes against the mould in some regards, then this may be your best choice. I heavily recommend it to any fan of the series.