for Nintendo Switch is a faithful recreation of the original Game Boy adventure, except for perhaps one noticeable difference — the brand new Chamber Dungeon mode. Allowing players to arrange their own dungeons out of existing rooms from dungeons in the game, the mode isn’t quite the Super Mario Maker-esque “Zelda Maker” fans have been clamoring for. But, there’s a good reason why, according to longtime series producer Eiji Aonuma.Speaking to IGN via email, Aonuma explained that, at one point in their regular discussions about upcoming Zelda games, Shigeru Miyamoto asked about the possibility of Mario Maker-like gameplay for a Zelda game.“I talk to Mr. Miyamoto regularly about ‘the next Zelda game,’ and one time, he asked me if I could come up with a game that features Super Mario Maker-like gameplay, but for Zelda,” Aonuma said. “We talked about how a game like this for Zelda would have dungeons, but it’s generally quite difficult to devise the logic needed to solve them.”
Because of that inherent difficulty, they thought about how to take the spirit of that gameplay and create something more approachable for audiences.
“So we gave some thought into a more approachable style of play where you have to think about how to arrange parts that already have a solution to create a single dungeon, instead of allowing players to create complex arrangements like in Super Mario Maker 2, and that’s how we created the Chamber Dungeons for this game,” he explained.
As for why this feature is making its debut with Link’s Awakening specifically, Aonuma explained that the game’s dungeons themselves made it an ideal candidate to pair with the Chamber Dungeon mode.
“Given that the Chamber Dungeons feature is based on using rooms that already have a solution, we went looking for examples from existing titles, and found that the dungeons in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening would be the most suitable, because each room is usually the size of a single screen, and seen from a top-down view this makes their layout easy to understand,” he said, noting that “a critical part of the Chamber Dungeon gameplay is understanding the original dungeons before arranging your own.”Aonuma’s comments echo some he previously made to IGN about how the Chamber Dungeons factored so largely into Nintendo’s decision to specifically remake Link’s Awakening.
Otherwise, as our Link’s Awakening review notes, the updated version is a beautifully faithful recreation of the adventure, down to specific squares of grass on the map. Aonuma told IGN that in wanting to retain the original game’s charm, one thing the developers did seek to change was how players walked around the map.
“The original The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening game has the ‘Zelda scroll’ feature, where the map scrolls in single-screen units, which is a traditional part of 2D-Zelda games. But including a standard transition between screens as the player moves around makes it difficult to grasp how the layout of the map is connected, which caused people to get lost,” he said. “So in the reimagining, we made it so that you can move around the world seamlessly. This removed the feeling of being blocked when playing the original, and helped make it more of a stress-free game to play.”
As for what the team wanted to specifically retain of the original game, while dungeon layout, items, and bosses are obvious elements to preserve, Aonuma spoke to a gameplay-specific element the Link’s Awakening team worked to keep.
“Link, the playable character in the original, moved according to digital input in eight directions: up, down, left, right and diagonals, and the entire game was designed around that style of movement. If we were to completely replace that with analog input to allow free movement in all directions, we’d also need to redesign the gameplay itself, and the way the game feels and responds would be entirely different,” he said. “So, taking into account that it’s now possible to move seamlessly around the map, what we did is keep the original movement in eight directions and made some adjustments to the game overall to make sure the feel and response don’t differ too much from the original.”
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is now available for the Nintendo Switch, as well as the newly released Nintendo Switch Lite, which you can read our review-in-progress of as we spend time with the new system.
And for those playing the reimagining of Link’s adventure, be sure to check out our Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening walkthrough guide for tips and help, including Heart Piece locations, Secret Seashell locations, and a World Map of Koholint Island.