Zelda Dungeon Design: Link’s Awakening

Mark Brown of the Game Maker’s Toolkit has uncovered some great design elements in his research on The Legend of Zelda dungeons. In his first video, he looks at A Link to the Past and how deceptively simple dungeon layouts create a rich experience for the player. Next, he tackles the primary handheld game in the Zelda franchise: Link’s Awakening.

Source: iloveui Flickr

Source: iloveui Flickr

This game had a lot to offer fans besides portability: playing the ocarina, fishing, even flying on a chicken. Plus the handheld felt familiar thanks to sharing the same team as Link to the Past. Mark’s research has also uncovered how changes to the game’s structure make for a dramatically different player experience. “But don’t be fooled into thinking this makes Link’s Awakening dungeons less interesting. Far from it!”

Check out the second instalment of his Boss Keys series, and find out how this handheld entry made lasting design changes to The Legend of Zelda franchise:

Do you remember playing this game? Did you notice the design changes as compared to A Link to the Past? We’d like to hear what you think, especially when it comes to game analysis… leave us a comment!

The next Boss Keys will be a good one, as it dives into Zelda’s 3D open world entry: Ocarina of Time. If you enjoyed this video and want to see more from Mark, consider subscribing to the Game Maker’s Toolkit.


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  • On July 17, 2016