This fan-made HD PC port of Zelda: Link's Awakening is so cool I can't believe Nintendo hasn't taken it down yet

Extremely cool fan project alert: someone, or someones, has released a PC port of Nintendo classic The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, modernized to run fantastically on modern PCs. It adds widescreen and high framerate support, with a silky smooth camera that lets you explore Link's Awakening as one large interconnected world instead of a sequence of connected screens. Link's Awakening DX HD was released on 10 days ago and has started to catch the interest of Zelda fans across the internet—and it seems likely Nintendo's ire won't be far behind.

The PC has seen a number of decompilation projects in recent years, which have enabled PC ports of other Nintendo games like Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. Those projects reverse-engineer the code from Nintendo's original games, then rewrite it in another language to run on a PC. Critically, for them to be legal, they avoid including any of the original assets, like textures or music, and require players supply those files themselves with a ROM of the original game.

Link's Awakening DX HD is not a decompilation project—it's a full-on port of the original game, assets and all.

That means it's not likely destined to stay online for long, unless Nintendo decides to turn a blind eye since it already remade Link's Awakening a couple years ago. While it is still downloadable, though, the project serves as a perfect example of how well some of Nintendo's classic games could hold up with PC ports today.

The port is simple, with just a few options, but the ones it offers are great. It includes autosaving, borderless windowed mode, keyboard and gamepad support, and customizable zoom options.

The default automatic zoom looks fantastic on my 1440p monitor, rendering the old 8-bit Game Boy graphics in perfectly sharp pixels. But the slickest feature is being able to zoom out to 1:1 or even half pixel scaling—because the Game Boy ran at a now slightly dated 160 x 144, this lets you see the entirety of Koholint Island on your monitor at once. And it's all alive and active at once, like a little Zelda ant farm. Playing the game at that scale would be close to impossible, but wow is it cool to look at.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Hopefully there's a way for the developers of this port to re-release it sans copyrighted material and let users supply their own ROM, because it'll be a Christmas miracle if it's still online by the end of the year.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).