Link’s Awakening [1] – Tail Cave

I’m bad with names. I’m really bad with names. When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t think their name even enters my memory. I have to make a conscious decision to remember and repeat the name in my head just so It doesn’t go away immediately. The same goes with any other name.

Because of that, I couldn’t remember the name of the first dungeon of Link’s Awakening, nor the name of most of the characters in the game, other than Link, of course. Luckily, some quick googling helped with that, so I can now say I cleared the first dungeon – Tail Cave.

Koholint Island

Link’s Awakening is something of an off-shot of the main story arc of the Legend of Zelda series, the way I understand it. According to the story, After the previous games, Link is now a hero. He travels on his ship, ends up in a storm and crashes on the shores of the Koholint Island. To get off the island, he needs to wake up the Wind Fish.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - Castaway

This is how the game begins. Marin finds Link on the beach.

I can’t really understand how they do it, but the Zelda series manages to have a very minimal story in each game, but it all adds up to a complex and extremely interesting overall story arc. What I wrote above is pretty much everything the player needs to know about Link’s Awakening. There’s the backstory and the motivation and that’s it. Of course, stuff is added to it throughout the game, but no more than needed, which is very little.

Getting the Sword and the Shield

Link wakes up at the home of Marin, who he mistakes for Zelda for a moment, and her father Tarin. Taring gives him the shield and points him towards the beach where Marin found him, hinting something important might be there.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - The Shield

Tarin gives Link his shield, saying his name is written on it.

Before I went to the beach, I explored the village, checked out the shops and talked to everyone. I decided to do this playthrough completely walkthrough free, so instead, I’ll be taking notes (thank you, OneNote).

Talking to the NPCs made me realize the game is self-referencing a lot. The kids in the village give me tips about the gameplay and then finish with “I don’t know what that means, I’m just a kid”, there’s a Yoshi doll I can get at a game store, and there’s a lot of tips I can read up on on various signs and in the Village Library. There’s also a building with a phone in it. On the other side of the phone line is a person named Ulrira, who seems to be telling me what my next objective is. Overall, Link’s Awakening is the most approachable Legend of Zelda game yet.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - Load Menu

I’m behind in postings, of course. My writing sessions are about as long as my playing sessions.

It also seems to control much more easily and fluently. The movement and the actions are less rigid, so I can dodge more easily. I still get hit, but it feels more like my fault when it happens and not that I’m not used to the controls, liked it felt in the past.

Anyway, I talked to everyone, took some notes and finally got to the beach, where I found my sword. I have two items now. Here are the notes I took:

  • Papahl’s wife wants the Yoshi doll for their kid.
  • Papahl will be lost in the hills later on in the game (this is more self-referencing).
  • Sale at the Sale’s House O’ Bananas is interested in any canned food.
  • One of madam Meow Meow’s dogs is interested in jewelry and accessories.
  • There’s a monkey on a tree near Sale who throws coconuts at me.
  • There’s a bomb-able wall on the beach near where the sword was.
  • There’s a book on the top shelf in the village library that I can’t reach
  • There’s another book in the library that apparently needs a magnifying glass.

After getting the sword, I immediately went back to the village to deal with some of the requests. I got the Yoshi doll and got a ribbon as a reward for that. I gave the ribbon to the dog and got a can of dog food. I then gave the dog food to Sale, who gave me bananas. I tried somehow giving those to the monkey, but they aren’t a select-able item and I don’t know how to talk to it.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - The Sword

Getting the sword plays the famous Zelda tune. It’s also definitely Link’s sword because his name is written on it.

I also got a heart piece from the well above the library. Getting four heart pieces in a Zelda game gives Link an extra heart container, so those are always great to pick up.

An owl (yes, we finally have the annoying owl) told me to go to the Mysterious Woods next, so that’s exactly what I did.

The Mysterious Woods

The screen went darker when I got to the Mysterious Woods. I don’t this happens on the original GameBoy, so it’s a nice touch on the color version. I had to fight a lot of Moblins while there, and I also find an item or two I wont be able to get until later, so I took some notes, or a note:

  • There’s a heart piece in a cave that I can’t get to. I need to be able to lift giant skulls

I found a toadstool and a witch’s hut, so I gave her the mushroom. I got a bag of magical powder. I used this magical powder on a raccoon  who turned out to be Tarin, transformed by a toadstool he ate (the circle of life). I’m not sure what the importance of this is, but I did it. The witch told me to bring her more toadstools if I need more powder, so I’ll probably be doing that later. I also tried using the powder on other stuff. It lights up braziers and temporarily stuns that invulnerable enemy that electrifies me when I attack it, but I didn’t discover anything else.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - Tarin the Raccoon

Mushrooms are bad, kids. This is Tarin on mushrooms.

I was supposed to find the key for the first dungeon in the Mysterious Woods, so that’s what I eventually did, but it took me a while to find it. The place is pretty much a maze, so I got lost once or twice.

Link’s Awakening Dungeon #1 – The Tail Cave

The Tail Cave was located to the south of the village, north of the beach. I actually stumbled into it before I ever got to the Mysterious Woods, but I had to get the key to enter it.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - Tail Cave

I wonder why it’s called the Tail Cave…

The dungeon itself was easy, as I expected, since it’s the first dungeon. I found the compass and the map within the first few rooms and I beat the mini-boss a few rooms after that. The compass got a bit of an upgrade since A Link to the Past, or at least I think it did. It now creates a sound every time I enter a room where I can get a key. This can be useful with rooms where there’s a trick to get it. I don’t think the compass did this in A Link to the Past, but I might be wrong.

The item of the dungeon was the Roc Feather, which allows link to jump. It can even be used in the short side scrolling sections within the dungeons, which turns this part of the game into a full-fledged platformer. While we’re on the subject of the side scrolling sections, there are goomba and piranha plant enemies from the Super Mario series in those, which is a great touch.

Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - Goombas

Real goombas! Awesome!

Defeating the mini-boss involved jumping over things he sends at me, so I immediately got an opportunity to practice the jumping. The final boss of Tail Cave was more familiar and straight forward, but also far more annoying. It was the snake/worm boss with a vulnerable tail from the previous games. As before, if he hit me the wrong way, he would send me to the floor bellow, though this didn’t take away my health this time, and I had a much easier time getting back to the boss than in A Link to the Past. Still, it’s a very annoying boss.


Zelda - Link's Awakening DX - First Boss

I will always hate this boss, always!

Killing it got me my first heart container and the first of the 8 instruments needed to awaken the Wind Fish, which by the way, apparently is neither wind or a fish. The first instrument was a cello.