10 Heroic Tips for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

(Image credit: Nintendo)


Twenty-six years after it debuted, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is back, and looking better than ever. The slick remake on Switch features new graphics, a remastered soundtrack, a novel dungeon-creation feature — and all of the same mind-bending puzzles that made the game such a hit the first time around. 

Whether you're experiencing Link's Awakening for the first time or need a refresher after a quarter-century away, Tom's Guide has compiled a list of tips to help you guide Link on his quest to awaken the Wind Fish. Just be warned that while there are no story spoilers in this list, I do reference a few specific items and locations; consider coming back later if you'd prefer to discover these for yourself.

Use the phone booths

In more recent Zelda games, it's common to have a built-in support system, from sidekicks like Fi in Skyward Sword to the omnipresent tech like Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild. Link's Awakening was one of the first Zelda games to offer in-game hints, courtesy of Grandpa Ulrira and the telephone booths. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If you're ever feeling stuck, simply seek out the nearest telephone booth, then give Ulrira a call. He'll give you a hint — sometimes cryptic, sometimes straightforward, but almost always helpful. He may even give you multiple hints if you call him a few times. Just don't go to his house if you need help; he's very shy in person.

Respect the loop

Whenever you feel stuck in Link's Awakening (and if you're not using a walk-through, it's likely to happen a few times), just remember that the game follows a very predictable pattern, from the first dungeon to the last. First, you'll take on a quest from a townsperson. Then, you'll explore a new area, using a tool you earned in the last dungeon or quest. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

When you complete the quest, you'll find either a dungeon key or an unlocked dungeon entrance. Then, you'll explore a dungeon, acquiring a new tool in the process, and the whole loop will start over again. If you're ever unsure about where to go next, just remember where you are in the loop, and you should have a pretty good idea of where to start.

Use tools to reach new areas

There are more than a dozen distinct areas of the world map in Link's Awakening, and most of them can't be accessed simply by walking. The good news is that each new area makes it pretty obvious what you'll need to get in. If you see a distant tree, you'll need a hook shot. If you see a cracked wall, you'll need bombs. If you see a heavy rock, you'll need a Power Bracelet. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

More often than not, just by exploring a new area, you'll find an important quest-giver or discover a clear obstacle that's preventing you from getting to the next dungeon. If there's a place on the map you haven't been, you probably need to go there next.

Open every chest in dungeons

This is probably old hat for Zelda fans, but if you see a chest in a dungeon, you should grab it. Even if you think you have enough keys, even if you are ready to fight the boss, even if there's a difficult puzzle in the way, you should still make an effort to track down and open every treasure chest. This is partially because opening chests will supply you with the items you need to traverse a dungeon, but also partially because even optional chests contain useful stuff. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

You'll need a lot of rupees to complete the game, particularly if you're interested in taking on side quests, and treasure chests can dispense lots of these precious gems.

Need more seashells? Find more

To get the most out of Link's Awakening, you'll need to find a bevy of Secret Seashells. If you collect enough of these mystical tchotchkes, you can upgrade equipment and acquire some useful items. They're well-hidden, though, in every nook and cranny of the overworld. If you're having trouble finding them, find some more. Really. 

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At the risk of sounding tautological, finding more seashells is actually the best way to hunt down the rarer ones. That's because after you collect 20 seashells, you'll get a Seashell Finder accessory, which pings you whenever one of the collectables is near. Finding seashells is still a challenge after you acquire the Finder, but it's much, much easier.

Seek out the Color Dungeon ASAP

If you played Link's Awakening DX back on the Game Boy Color, you may remember that there was an extra dungeon to take advantage of the system's color screen. The Color Dungeon is short and sweet, but it offers a valuable reward: your choice of a red tunic that empowers your attacks or a blue tunic that reduces incoming damage. 

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I don't have a recommendation between the two rewards, but I do recommend that you tackle the Color Dungeon as early as possible — which is right after the third dungeon. I won't reveal exactly how to find it, but I will say this: If you explore Mabe Village, look for an item that's a little out of place.

Dig up warp points

While the overworld in Link's Awakening is not that big compared to what you find in A Link to the Past or Breath of the Wild, it can still take a while to traverse. Unless you want to run clear across the map each time you need to backtrack (and this is not very much fun), you should seek out as many warp points as possible. 

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Almost every area has an associated warp point. These are also pretty easy to find, due to the telltale whirr that sounds whenever you enter a screen that has one of the points. Just be aware that while some warp points sits out in the open, you'll need a few strokes of your trusty shovel to unearth others.

Create your own dungeons (if you want)

The big, new addition in Link's Awakening on Switch is the dungeon-creation feature. Once you find Dampé the gravedigger (don't worry, you can't miss him), you'll be able to mix and match rooms from dungeons you've completed in order to check off a number of different challenges. (You can also just free-build dungeons, if you have a particular design in mind.) 

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These dungeons are great for earning extra rupees, pieces of heart and seashells, so they're worth a little effort. At the same time, you don't get any plot-necessary equipment, and there are other ways to improve your health and fatten your wallet. So, if dungeon creation isn't your thing, you don't have to do it.

Don't forget the Dream Shrine

Don't forget the Dream ShrineWithout going into too much detail, I'll say that you'll probably come across a building in Mabe Village called the Dream Shrine early on in the game. However, you won't be able to complete it until you have a lot of health and quite a few tools from dungeons. 

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After a certain point, you will need the item in the Dream Shrine before you can advance in the plot, so it's worth checking back every once in a while and seeing if you have enough gear to successfully complete the shrine. Completing it doesn't take too long, and it'll be pretty clear when you need to use the item you get as a reward.

Trade for fun and profit

Trade for fun and profitThere's an (in)famous trading game in Link's Awakening, which you'll need to complete before the end of the game. (I won't spoil exactly why, but the item you'll get as a reward is vital for navigating the final dungeon.) It all begins with a Yoshi doll, which a young mother in Mabe Village wants for her baby, and it ends halfway across Koholint Island with a secret buried near Martha's Bay. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There's no special trick to the trading game; just talk to every new character you meet and pay attention to what they want. No matter what item you get — from a bunch of bananas, to a photo of Princess Peach, to a fishing hook — someone wants it.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.