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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (DX)
Release: August 1993 (DX: December 1998)
Sales: 4.0 million

The History
Your portable system's sales are lagging, you need some franchise revival power, and Pokémon won't be invented for another few years. What's a Nintendo to do? The answer is simple: Zelda! There's no gaming system that Miyamoto's flagship series can't improve. Fortunately, the developers of Link's Awakening decided not to take the easy way out by creating a "dumbed down" portable title. Instead, they squeezed all of the gameplay and adventure of the game's 16-bit cousin, Link to the Past, into a cartridge for an 8-bit system with a four-color grayscale palette and 32K of RAM. "Now you're playing with portable power," indeed.

Link's Awakening featured a massive overworld and tons of dungeons. The gameplay easily equaled that of its console "big brothers." Moreover, some of the new features were so advanced (and some of the new characters so endearing) that they would return for the legendary Zelda 64. Despite its "aging" hardware platform, critics and fans alike embraced the game. With gameplay this good, it was hard not to.

Another reason Link's Awakening was so enjoyable was its complete failure to take itself seriously. One of the townsfolk informed you that he was going to need rescuing later on, so you had to keep an eye out for him. The "trading game" of item-swapping involved things like Yoshi dolls, banana bunches, and tins of dog food. Best of all, more than a few characters from Miyamoto's "other" title, Super Mario Bros., show up; Goombas and Piranha Plants populate the dungeons, while Marin and Tarin looked more than slightly like Princess Peach and Mario.

With the 1998 launch of Game Boy Color, Nintendo needed a killer application to help sell systems. Once again, Link arrived to save the day. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, was released shortly after the system's release. This color redux not only sported a title convoluted enough to turn Capcom green with envy, but full-color support throughout, Game Boy Printer support, and an entirely new dungeon with color-based puzzles - and a color based reward - at the end.

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