Zelda games tend to follow a pretty rigid formula when it comes to their plots. There's some form of Link who's supposed to fight Ganon, there's some form of Ganon who's supposed to fight Link, and there's some form of Zelda who's either kidnapped, in peril, or occasionally might be doing something cool. Then Link gathers a whole bunch of fun Ganon-busting tools, goes to some sort of cursed fortress/castle, and usually kills Ganon so good that he stays down for at least a 100 years or so.
This how the games usually go, but there have been games that stray off the beaten path to give Link some truly interesting side adventures, such as Majora's Mask, or in this case, Link's Awakening. However, while Awakening is pretty fantastic on the whole, the ending is just a straight up letdown. It's bizarre, depressing, anti-climatic, and definitely not the kind of epic conclusion you'd want in a Legend Of Zelda game.
The Most Destructive Wake Up Call Ever
(It probably doesn't need to be said, but this article will contain some spoilers for a 28 year old Zelda game.)
The main problem is that when you wash ashore on the island of Koholint, and you get to know all the inhabitants, you can tell things are a little weird. There's a giant egg, nightmare creatures, a talking owl, and some really off the wall Mario references.
Eventually you discover the whole island is actually a dream, and not just any dream, but the dream of a magic fish. Yes, the vibrantly colored Wind Fish has been deep in slumber, and all those magical instruments you've been collecting aren't just so you can form the world's most impressive one man band. You need to use them to play The Song Of Awakening, which will then wake both you, and your new fishy friend.
The thing that sucks about this is that by doing so, you're essentially erasing the entire island of Koholint. Every person you met, every being that was given life here, is just going to fade away. Imagine finding out your entire existence was about to be wiped out because a flying whale is about to wake up from its nap? It would suck. And Link, the borderline sociopath that he is, seems totally cool with jamming out some tunes that will destroy an entire landmass.
Even Marin, who's pretty much the Zelda of this world, and helps you when you're lying unconscious on the beach, gets evaporated. Unless of course you get the perfect ending, which requires you to beat the whole freaking game without dying once. And what's your/her reward if you do that? She gets turned into a seagull. Congratulations, one person made it out of the dream world alive, and they get to be one of the most annoying birds in existence. Sweet deal.
It just makes you feel bad. You just met an entire new cast of characters, and in one fell swoop they all get annihilated in favor of a fish that doesn't care that his dream created a whole population of people, and now they're all going to die. Honestly, he doesn't even seem too pleased about having to get out of bed. I mean look at this guy's face:
Does that look like someone who actually wants to wake up? Pretty sure he's not too happy about you being his own personal alarm clock.
The Wind Fish Is A Jerk
Best of all, after you wake him up, and Koholint is nothing more than a vague memory, he doesn't even give you a lift back to dry land. You wake up all by yourself, and you're just hanging off a piece of driftwood floating in the middle of the ocean. You have no boat, no supplies, you're soaking wet, and you're probably hungry. Link sees the Wind Fish fly off into the horizon, and looks all happy that he did a good deed, but we don't see his reaction afterwards when he realizes how screwed he is.
How does Link even get out of this? Does he have to doggy-paddle this piece of lumber back home? He's literally lost at sea. He was probably better off letting the fish sleep, and asking the villagers on the magic island to help build him a new boat. Instead, he's saved a magical creature that was so ungrateful that it couldn't even bother helping the dude who saved it from an endless nightmare.
And that's if this wasn't all some kind of fever dream brought on from being stranded after a shipwreck. If this was all a dream, it probably means that Link is losing his damn mind because he's been out in the sun for hours, possibly even days, and probably has nothing to drink besides sea water. This might be how this Link dies, and it's not a very heroic or honorable death. In fact, considering this is the Link from A Link To The Past, him dying of exposure out in the ocean is quite possibly the lamest way for him to go out.
Get Ready To Get Bummed Out All Over Again
The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a really good game, but it'll be kind of a shame if the remake keeps this ending, as it's kind of garbage. Just knowing that Link is responsible for the destruction of an entire society in favor of helping a giant fish get out of bed is a total bummer, and makes Link kind of look like an uncaring dick. Not to mention that Marin, seemingly the only other person who can make it out of Koholint alive, gets to live the rest of her life as a seagull, which if that was the only other option, most people would probably take the non-existence.
And that's if we go by what the game is presenting us with. If this was all in Link's head as he slowly starved to death on a plank of driftwood, then it's even more depressing, and it even has that extra cliche of "it was all a dream!" attached to it.
At the very least, if the Link's Awakening remake is going to include this ending, can we please catch a ride on the Wind Fish? We'll even chip in some rupees for gas if that's what it takes.