Don’t wake up, Link. Stay down.

Countless “best video games of all time” rankings can be found on the Internet, and almost always include several installments of the Zelda series. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time almost always lands in first place. I’ve never played it. This is often met with disbelief and horror by Zelda fans – and somehow almost all serious video gamers are also a bit of a Zelda fan. I can understand that, and I actually think I’d really enjoy Ocarina of Time. As would a lot of the other Zelda spin-offs, I suppose. But I haven’t played any of those either – with the exception of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. This is going to sound more dramatic than it actually is, but that game is inextricably linked to a little childhood trauma that has kept me from ever touching another Zelda title ever since. And Link’s Awakening made me a bit paranoid in other ways, too. Until today.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening module was stuck in my Game Boy for months, and I spent an inordinate amount of hours playing the game. Mainly because I was stumbling through the world without a clue and didn’t really know how to get anywhere. Link’s Awakening was so hard! The endless search for some power bracelet to lift heavy things (that literally stood in the way of my progress) is still very present to me today. As do the tough (often one-eyed?) boss opponents that demanded everything of me back then. But at some point, I actually stood at the foot of this egg-nest mountain, where the final boss and thus the end of the game awaited me. I didn’t know at that point that every ending can also be a beginning. Instead of being able to select my game state after switching on the Game Boy, I saw a sleeping Link on the beach – the complete opening sequence, which was so many months ago, flickered across the screen. He had done it again: my brother had destroyed my game progress by saving incorrectly. Everything gone.

I gave expression to my rage in a manner befitting my age: I cried for hours. My little brother could shove his excuses where my parents could shove their attempts at appeasement. I didn’t speak to him for a month. Family crisis. Since that incident, the entire Zelda series was burned for me. That’s zero rational and that’s zero plausible, but I haven’t touched a single Zelda game since that memory fiasco. I’ve also been suffering from save paranoia ever since: To this day, I back up important game saves twice (sometimes even three times since Cloud Saving). During the Nintendo 64 times I had a second memory card, which only served as a backup. Since USB slots are common on consoles, I additionally save game saves on a USB stick. This extra work gives me a good feeling. My game progress is safe. Even if my brother should gain unauthorized access to my apartment at night to torpedo me and my video game progress once again, I still have an ace, or rather a USB stick, up my sleeve. You don’t stand a chance anymore. You hear me? You don’t have a chance anymore!

26 years after the Game Boy release, a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2019. The Switch version promises numerous improvements and new features. However, the storage system was taken over unchanged from the Game Boy version. How can you save on such elementary things?!

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