The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a game about a dream world. Link has become trapped on the unfamiliar Koholint Island, and fights tirelessly to “wake the Wind Fish” and free himself from this ephemeral prison. Over the course of his adventure, Link is warned in subtle and then overt ways that waking the Wind Fish will mean the true end of this “nightmare”, and all the people, monsters, and talking frogs that call this place home would cease to exist. Ignoring these warnings, Link eventually defeats the big bad and meets the Wind Fish face to face. W.F. informs Link that he has done a good thing, and then… Link wakes up. Was this the dream of that mysterious, winged shadow flying overhead? Or did Link dream the Wind Fish, too? Was this whole journey in Link’s head?
And if this was all Link’s dream, then what does that say about Link?
In order to get to the bottom of this mystery, I picked up The Dream Dictionary from A to Z by Theresa Cheung for six bucks. There is a picture of a pillow and a vagina-pierogi on the cover, so you know it has to be legit.
I once intended to analyze my own dreams with this book… but I never got around to it. I have this annoying tendency to wake up in the morning for work, and, unfortunately, I then have to actually go to work. This leaves no time to analyze my subconscious upon waking, and, by the time I’m home after a long day, I am in no mood to figure out why I’m dreaming about those little people punching my testicles again. However! I always have time to play The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, so let’s analyze our favorite wannabe elf’s dreams. The back of this book claims Theresa Cheung was “born into a family of psychics and spiritualists”, so this should be pretty good for the green kid.
Ms. Cheung has to be better than Crazy Tracy, right? So we will look at a few prominent pieces of symbolism in Link’s Awakening, starting with…
Link has always been a friend to the economy. Starting from his first adventure, Link loves wheelin’ and dealin’ when he needs bombs, arrows, or the occasional key. Naturally, Koholint’s only (human) town, Mabe Village, includes a shopkeeper. And according to the Dream Dictionary…
“A shopkeeper in your dreams may relate to how you supply your own needs or who supplies your needs to you, or help show you how you can gain essential support from other people”
Well, that sounds pretty “Link”, doesn’t it? Whether he is saving a kingdom or just retrieving someone’s lost cuccos, Link has always been someone who satisfies the needs of others. In a way, Link is a shopkeeper himself: continually selling his time in exchange for rupees and heart pieces. The presence of an unnamed shopkeeper seems to further bolster this reading, as the anonymity of the man shows how Link is somehow aware he is the shopkeeper, and this man could truly be no one else.
And sometimes the shopkeeper kills Link for stealing, thus demonstrating Link’s usual penchant for solving his problems with violence. Link never tried to parlay with Ganondorf, and this shopkeeper has no time for dealing with THIEF.
Before we go any further, we should address those comments that you likely are already hearing muttering behind this article. Why, Goggle Bob, are you analyzing Link like he is a known character? We do not know for certain which Link is the star of Link’s Awakening, and assuming any given Link is that much like any other Link is folly. Are we to believe that a Link that transforms into a wolf and zooms around the countryside with an imp riding his back would have the same experiences as a Link that dove from the sky on the back of a giant bird? There may be external materials that peg “this Link” as a particular hero of the past or another, but the actual text of Link’s Awakening does not support one timeline or another.
And to that I offer a simple answer: the Moldorm tells us this is all Links.
According to our guide for this article:
“To see a worm in your dream also represents weakness and general negativity; you have a very low opinion of yourself”
Is this to say that Link has an inferiority complex? No! Because the Moldorm is encountered extremely early in Link’s Awakening. Link has a scant collection of hearts, an inventory that is mostly empty, and the worst sword he will ever swing. Link is at his most vulnerable when he must defeat the Moldorm, and that is a situation that is simultaneously scary and extremely familiar to anyone that has played a Zelda game.
And that’s where it becomes obvious: Link’s initial weakest dungeon run happens over and over again to every Link that has ever happened. There is always a “first” dungeon, and thus there must always be a boss that attacks when Link has barely had a moment to find a fourth heart. So obviously what has happened is that this trauma has seared its way into Link’s very soul, and his many reincarnations all remember this primal fear. Link sees his own weakness in the Moldorm, as he has seen it again and again with every first dungeon boss.
Koholint Island taps into the collective unconscious of every Link that has ever taken up the sword (or crossbow), and the Moldorm proves it.
Richard the Frog Prince
But don’t worry! These nightmares are not all nightmares (wait a minute…). Richard the Frog Prince is a friendly fellow who needs to have his golden leaves returned. He had a bit of a scuffle with the castle staff rising up and booting him out of his fortress, so now he has to hang out with a bunch of frogs while waiting for a real hero to appear. And, apparently, there may be a subconscious reason this prince appears before Link…
“The True prince is a ruler-in-training who is in service to the people over whom he will rule, whether that is a literal kingdom or a figurative or spiritual one.”
And you know what? This franchise has a whole pile of princesses, but barely ever a prince. And why is that? Apparently Link sees himself as a prince! He is the one learning how to service the people he will one day rule, and if that involves solving a bunch of sidequests, so be it. Yes, Link is more than a common shopkeeper, he is a prince, destined one day to serve all of the people of Hyrule from the throne.
Or he’s going to get kicked out and stand around in a hovel dispensing quests that involve monkeys…
Yeah, I am starting to see how Link has a low opinion of himself…
But there is one thing we know about Link for certain: as much as he loves adventure, he loves food even more. Link has always been a reckless gourmand, downing any potion he could find in an old lady’s cave. And later titles in the franchise see Link scarfing down a kabob or seventeen while hanging off the side of a mountain. And apparently this was all foreshadowed with the appearance of a giant fish or two (let’s not ignore Manbo). A fish…
“…may suggest a yearning for a homely situation… or… basic food for lunch or supper.”
And that’s pretty straightforward! Link just wants to get home, and cook up a nice meal. Given this dream appears to be occurring while Link is floating at sea on a piece of driftwood, it is only natural that he is dreaming of the sweet (maybe salty) tastes of the salty sea. But beyond the physicality of Link’s situation, this is a dream that likely occurs often for the same guy that would willingly eat a frog for his princess.
Link may be a warrior god to the Hyrulean people, but, in the end, he just wants to slap a swordfish on the barbie.
And since we were just talking about princesses…
Marin physically resembles Princess Zelda. Which Princess Zelda? That is immaterial. What is important is Link thinks of Zelda when he looks at Marin. And Marin seems to even embody the basic traits of “a” Zelda: she is tied to her position as a resident of Koholint but longs for more, is the official “mom” of two different towns, and even has a penchant for song. This is generations of Zeldas all wrapped up into one, and shot off like a pinball into Link’s dreamworld. But what are Link’s feelings for the ur-Zelda?
“Is the person in your dream really the object of your intense feelings of love or is there another way to read the dream? For example, dreams in which you fall in love or are reminded of the passionate early days of a relationship may have nothing to do with actual relationships but may be urging you to inject some passion into your life.”
Maybe Marin isn’t supposed to be a known person to Link. Maybe Marin’s drive to get outside her destined future is the part of Link that yearns to no longer be Link. He is not the Hero of Time or the Wind Waker or whatever, he is a boy who wouldn’t mind stretching his wings and flying away.
Maybe Marin is the princess that will rescue this knight.
Meanwhile, the appearance of one of Link’s most common tools is basic…
“You’ve got the Compass! Now, you can see where the chests and Nightmare are hidden! This Compass has a new feature—a tone will tell you if a key is hidden in a room when you enter!”
Now, despite the fundamental phrasing, it is understandable if this is confusing to you. If you need to, please feel free to reread this entry another seven times. You know, just to make sure you understood every last bit of it. If you are still having trouble after that, you may want to read it again. Really let it digest.
BowWow is Madam MeowMeow’s largest dog, and it is up to Link to rescue the pooch when Moblins kidnap the hound. Upon reuniting with BowWow, Link is asked to take the good boy for a walk, and BowWow aids Link in entering the second dungeon.
According to the book, dogs represent…
“Natural urges… for instance, our anger might usually be well under control, but someone teases us, we might unexpectedly erupt with uncontrollable anger.”
Is Link naturally urged to enter dungeons? It does seem to be the most natural thing a Link can do. Or maybe BowWow is a representation of a tired Link and how he just wants to be able to be free of responsibility and go for a walk. And BowWow certainly seems to be a black ball of uncontrollable anger. Wait… is there something special for black dogs?
“A black dog suggests depression or fear of death.”
Oh. That cannot be good.
Façade, the boss of the Face Shrine, should be Link’s worst nightmare. After Link has spent lifetimes wrecking up homes by tossing pottery every which way, now a room full of tiles and pots is fighting back! And while it would be easy to interpret this as Link’s subconscious fearing revenge for centuries of mischief, our dream guide offers a different explanation for pottery appearing in a dream:
“…A need to find ways to express your creativity in waking life.”
Oh! See? Perfectly reasonable explanation. Link has been “expressing himself” by bonking things with sharp objects for so long that he knows he needs to find a new creative outlet. Heck, even the solution to defeating Façade reinforces this notion: Link cannot win with his sword this time, he must resort to the much more creative outlet of explosives.
And speaking of which…
There’s a section for this? Do… do other people dream of explosives often? Have I been the one having boring dreams all this time? What the hell, my own brain!? I thought we were cool!
Whatever. At least somebody gets to dream of explosives. Whether they be meager bombs or extremely awesome bomb arrows, Link has got plenty of explosions happening on Koholint. And sometimes bombs are the only answer! Façade was already mentioned, but there is at least one skeleton knight that craves bombs, and those dodongo snakes that literally crave death.
And what are explosives all about in dreams? Well…
“Your dreaming mind is warning you that you are in danger of exploding with frustration or anger.”
Oh no! We’ve already seen a lot of evidence that Link is keeping his less-than-princely desires bottled up like so many fairies, but now we know that there are warnings that this could all end very poorly! We would hate to see Link “explode” with frustration or anger! After all, a guy with as much power as Link? Why, he could wipe out an entire island of people and people-that-are-animals! That would just be terrible.
And speaking of terrible…
Evil Eagle and Grim Creeper
The Eagle Tower is dominated by the Evil Eagle, a gigantic bird summoned by the Grim Creeper. At this point in the adventure, Link has already bested Grim and his smaller birds once, so now the wannabe Skull Kid is pulling out all the stops. Link must use his mirror shield to hold back the gusts, and only some deft swordsmanship will send the creeper back down to the (dream) Earth.
But what does an evil eagle mean? Well…
“Eagles suggest supremacy… represents your wish to dominate.”
Oh, this is not good. Link is supposed to have other pursuits and passions, but he is keeping them suppressed. Now he is destined to explode! What’s more, it does not look like he is going to be very nice once he does burst. The idea of a “dominating” Link is terrifying, as nothing in the whole history of Hyrule has ever been able to stop a Link. Link straight up died while fighting Ganon one time, but he got better! And then he lost an arm a few years later, and just soldiered on with a soldered goat arm. The guy is invincible! If this dream is telling us that Link is looking to conquer…
Wait a minute, that’s just Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2. And that was a game about fighting creatures in a dream world…
Alright, false alarm everybody! It was all just a dream brought on by playing too much Super Mario Bros. 2 before bed! Nothing to worry about or analyze here, just a teenage boy who played too many videogames. Sorry everybody! Pack it in!
Guess you can ignore this article, then. Sorry! Just think of it all as a dream.
SBC #10 Young Link & The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Gameboy)
Young Link in Super Smash Bros Ultimate
- He any good? I maintain that Young Link is more interesting than regular Link, as he feels surprisingly strong. Unfortunately, I will be forever mad that we have a bunch of Links, but they all have the same basic moveset/tools. Let one of these Links use his other cool toys! The hammer is right there!
- That final smash work? Big Triforce hits feel beefy enough, but it is uninspired. Let Adult Link have the Triforce, and show me a Young Link that grabs for that Fierce Deity Mask…
- The background work? We are going to use Termina Bay for Young Link, as they both premiered in Super Smash Bros. Melee. There is some weird geometry here that you do not see in any stages past the Melee era (the weird little alcove spot is one of the few spots in the game with a known ceiling), and the moving turtle is… something. It wanders just enough to kill you, but not enough to be truly fascinating. Weird. Take some time to check out some of the background details when you’re there.
- First Appearance: Back in Melee, I definitely preferred Young Link to regular Link, as his spinning attack just felt somehow better. But this is all on the condition that you have to use Link at all. And, in the game that introduced Mr. Game & Watch, why would you ever do that?
- Classic Mode: Hyrule Smash features all the Legend of Zelda characters in Smash Bros. This means you are fighting a whole heck of a lot of Links. At least we get a little variety when you must fight four differently colored Links. Oh, and Ganon is the final boss, so that works well.
- Smash Trivia: Since “Real Link” is wearing his Breath of the Wild Blues for this Smash Bros, it is nice to have a little Link that is still attached to green.
- Amiibo Corner: Link’s Awakening Link is an adorable little toon. Majora’s Mask Link decided to let a goron have an extra spotlight. But official Smash Bros. Young Link? There is the good stuff. The wooden shield! That “gonna spin attack you” pose? A complete lack of tights! That is how you make a Link statue.
- Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? One would suppose it is just a matter of bad timing, but Super Smash Bros. all but ignores Link’s Awakening. It is not a situation where a prominent game is conspicuously absent, but it does look like literally every other Zelda adventure gets referenced in some exact way, whether that be with a background or bunny hood. Link uses a lot of “common tools” in Link’s Awakening, but the really unique pieces of the game are absent from gameplay.
Young Link in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Gameboy)
- System: Nintendo Gameboy, and then the DX version for the Gameboy Color. Eventually, the color version wound up ported around a bit, and it is currently available on the Nintendo Switch.
- Number of players: Dreams are isolated engagements.
- Color Changes: The new “color dungeon” for the DX version is… boring. It feels more like an anti-piracy measure than an explorable area (well, an anti-grayscale area, at least). But the photographs available only in the DX version add a touch of extra charm to an adventure that already has charm to spare. And we can always use an excuse to hook up the Gameboy printer!
- Favorite Mini-Boss: It is still Smasher, the cyclops that wants to play dodgeball with Link. The only possible runner-up would be Blaino, the boxer of Turtle Rock. Let’s claim this is an attempt to squeeze Little Mac into a game that already includes Mario enemies and Kirby.
- Say something mean: I love this game, and will play it over and over again until I can no longer feel my thumbs. That said, the Wind Fish’s final “Lost Woods” maze is possibly the worst finale available. The fight against the nightmare is tops! But a “dungeon” that is just “did you remember to read that one book after completing the trading quest” feels like something from a lesser game. Try something different! Maybe that book could lead you to a random treasure? And the Wind Fish’s Egg could be… a little more epic?
- Best Moment in Zelda: Get the magnifying glass, talk to the weirdo that will trade a boomerang for a shovel, get a flying rooster, toss out that boomerang, and fly around with a whirling dervish of destruction boomerang obliterating everything in your path. It only works one screen at a time, but boy howdy does it work.
- Watch it, buddy: Due to a slight streaming issue, we managed to stream about an hour of Link’s Awakening on Even Worse Streams.
Original Stream Night: February 14, 2023
We only get through the first three dungeons, but a fun time is had by all. Except Link. He has to fight some moblins.
- Did you know? Master Stalfos, the skeleton jerk that steals the hookshot, can be “killed” in each of his appearances if you use your bombs fast enough. The easiest method is hammering him with bomb-arrows when he first collapses. However you do it, he is exploded at the end of the battle, and you get a bonus small key for your troubles. You still must chase him around the dungeon in four different battles, though. Maybe there are multiple skeletons?
- Would I play again: Oh absolutely. This and A Link to the Past are my favorite Zeldas, and they get played every time they are available. Resistance is as futile as trying to fry a lava monster with a fire rod. Wait… That works?
What’s next? Byleth has hopes to spare. Please look forward to it!
I can still hear this GIF