Given that it was my first Zelda game, I have a soft spot for Link’s Awakening. So of course I’m incredibly excited for the Switch remake coming this September. As a result of poring over what we’ve been shown so far, I’ve noticed some interesting implications. I left a comment on the Kotaku post showing off 10 minutes of early-game footage to this effect, but i really wanted to collect my thoughts in a more organized manner. plus, new information has come to light from the Nintendo Treehouse demonstration that definitely affects some of my opinions.

First of all, here is a screenshot of the Link’s Awakening inventory screen. I’ve marked off 4 distinct sections where certain items are grouped.

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Original screenshot from zelda.gamepedia.com

Inventory - These are the items that the player can assign to either the A or B button. Unusually for a Zelda game, the Sword and Shield can be assigned the same way the Bow or Hookshot can. More on this later.

Key Items - These are things Link just has. This is an end-game screenshot, so it has the final item in the trading sequence, and the Secret Seashells have been traded in. The other slots are the Flippers and the Potion- the Potion acts like the traditional Fairy in a Bottle in Link’s Awakening, behaving as a one-use save from death.

Dungeon Keys - Of the game’s eight dungeons, five have keys required to unlock their entrance. There’s a sidequest for one of the keys that involves finding five Golden Leaves and trading them for the key- the leaves are tracked in this area as well, since they are removed when you obtain the key.

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Instruments - The eight MacGuffins of Link’s Awakening. Collect all eight to open the Wind Fish’s Egg.

Now, the original Link’s Awakening had the following items that could be selected to be used under A or B:

  1. Sword
  2. Shield
  3. Mushroom
  4. Powder
  5. Bombs
  6. Shovel
  7. Roc’s Feather
  8. Power Bracelet
  9. Bow
  10. Pegasus Boots
  11. Hookshot
  12. Ocarina
  13. Fire Rod
  14. Boomerang

You may have noticed that there are only ten slots in the menu, plus the two assigned items (unlike other games, Link’s Awakening did not have a static menu- when you equip an item it’s no longer in the menu, and there’s no set order to everything). The two extra slots are accounted for by the game: the Mushroom is removed when traded for the Powder and cannot be re-obtained, and the Boomerang requires you to trade away one of your other items (the Shovel is implied to be the correct choice here).

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The Key Items have four spaces- the Flippers, the Potion, the Trade Sequence Item, and the Seashells. As mentioned earlier, the Seashells go away when you trade them for the upgraded sword.

While it cut away from gameplay at certain points, the recent Nintendo Treehouse footage of Link’s Awakening gave us a very interesting look at the game’s inventory screen when Eiji Aonuma tackled one of the custom dungeons:

I didn’t intentionally pick this frame for my screenshot, but I do love the face Aonuma is making.

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We can safely assume the Instruments and Dungeon Keys sections will be largely unchanged, with one exception- the Golden Leaves. I could see them being tracked with the Key Items instead, especially since we now have five slots instead of four. It’s also worth mentioning that, in the early-game footage posted on Kotaku, we saw that the Mushroom is now a Key Item instead of Inventory, and still disappears when traded for Powder. Notice that there are 12 slots again for items (that seems to follow a more traditional Zelda inventory, and definitely does not remove an item from the menu when assigned to a button). But, we also know that there are some quality of life changes made thanks to the Switch having significantly more buttons than the original Game Boy. We can see in the screenshot that the Sword, Shield, Power Bracelet, and Pegasus Boots are in their own section with the tunic- I’ve decided to call this section “Equipment”. The Trade Sequence Items have also been moved here (as evidenced by the Stick), which makes sense given that the last one is the Magnifying Lens. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the open slot is the Flippers, which leaves us with the... face cream?

I have no idea what it is, but it looks like it’s supposed to declog my pores and prevent wrinkles.

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I have no idea what that last item is, and that is INCREDIBLY EXCITING. Worst-case scenario it’s the updated version of the Potion (which the original game describes as more of a topical ointment than something to drink), but as I’ll get into later I don’t think that’s the case. It could be another sidequest item, maybe there’s a second trade sequence or something. But it is our best evidence of this game exploring some completely new territory, and that’s super exciting.

Now, I want to go through what we can assume and then see what’s left for speculation, but I want to address one last thing: the one confirmed new item. Or at least, quasi-confirmed. When the E3 trailer released, we saw a glimpse at the new dungeon-building feature, including this little screen:

It’s a more traditional item being added in to a remake for a game made before certain tropes were fully established!

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New item confirmed: Fairy Bottle. This actually raises a LOT of questions! The fact that it explicitly mentions that it’s for a fairy kind of implies that they’re replacing the medicine with a bottled fairy to be mechanically more in-line with the standard established in A Link to the Past- potions are for consuming, fairies are for quick revivals. So is the medicine shop being overhauled, if not outright removed? And if we can put fairies in bottles, does that mean the bottles are inventory items that can be used to catch them, or will we just press A when close to one? Or will there be a Bug-Catching Net, like A Link to the Past? The net might make sense if there are multiple bottles that fill the Key Item slots, and the singular net is used to catch fairies. This is why I don’t think the mysterious item from above is the Potion from the original- it feels redundant alongside the Bottle(s).

So we have our Eight Equipment slots pretty much worked out, though we don’t know what one of them actually IS. The Flippers being there is still an educated guess, but we know they need to go somewhere so all that would affect is what we’re speculating on. We have two confirmed Key Items out of five- Seashells and Mushroom, both of which are removed when no longer needed. And if we assume that all items are returning, we have 9 of our 12 item slots (remember, 4 of the original 14 are now Equipment, and one is a Key Item). That gives us 3 mystery items in the Inventory (4 if the Boomerang still requires an item be given up in exchange, which I’m predicting not but could see going either way), and at least 3 Key Items. The Golden Leaves have a decent shot of filling the Key Item space instead of the Dungeon Key area, and regardless of how the Fairy Bottle works it has to go SOMEWHERE.

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Now, there is one potential downer here- the Ocarina. In the original game, when selecting the Ocarina you then selected which one of three songs you wanted it to play. It is possible- though I think unlikely, and am hoping I’m right- that each song will be its own “item”. So instead of one Ocarina that plays three songs, you have separate “items” for The Ballad of the Wind Fish, Manbo’s Mambo, and Frog’s Song of Soul. Which would be really disappointing, both in terms of denying us new content and because two of the three songs are only used at a few specific points in the game with no practical use outside of them. Even if this is the case, that does still leave us with at least one mystery item; though if we’re assuming worst-case scenarios then I would assume it’s either the Bottle or a Fairy-Catching Net. Best-case scenario, though, we would get some new weapons or other items, presumably from other games. Bombchus? Some kind of temporary invincibility item? The Cane of Somaria? The Roc’s Cape from the Oracle series? Sky’s the limit!

As far as our extra Key Item slots, my gut reaction is that we’ll get multiple Bottles that fill those up, maybe even taking the space of ones that go away like the Mushroom. Key Items are tricky, since they typically are linked to sidequests and progression walls and don’t impact gameplay as much as inventory items. So we’ll see what happens, but the door is definitely open to there being some new side-content in this game we haven’t seen yet. I think there will be at least one new thing- maybe a third Sword upgrade? I would also bet that there’s going to be a hard, secret Boss unlocked through Dampé’s dungeons.

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One more thing we learned from the Treehouse presentation- Dampé’s hut replaces the camera mouse’s house from Link’s Awakening DX. So I think it’s safe to assume that the Photo Album is out, as is the photography sidequest. Which is fine- I thought there were a few points where the Mouse showing up broke the flow of the game, plus it made 100% completion kind of awkward since it required you to steal from the shop, which meant you could never go back inside since the shopkeeper would kill you (locking you out of the good ending, which requires a 0 Game Over counter). The Color Dungeon IS back, which was the real cool addition to LADX anyway.