The Link Between Trains and the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

In August 1993, Nintendo released the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy, the first Zelda game for the system.

The game would later be re-released for the Game Boy Color and re-made on the Nintendo Switch, 26 years after its initial release.

To promote the release of the game, Nintendo orchestrated a multi-day train ride, dubbed The Zelda Whistle Stop Tour, from New York City to Seattle, using the present day Lake Shore Limited and Empire Builder Amtrak trains. Participants were given a Game Boy and a copy of the game, and whoever beat the game first would win an additional $1,000 prize.

The Chicago Tribune described the event as follows, "The contestants had agreed to ride together from New York to Seattle where they were jacked into their Game Boys for 60 hours straight in mid-August-Sleepless Till Seattle. The high scorers would win $1,000 for the charities of their choice. But never mind the booty, for they only had eyes for Zelda."

Interestingly enough, if off-topic, the same article referenced the Nintendo CD add-on that would never come to fruition, and would prompt Sony to create the PlayStation and re-make video game history. "Nintendo also unveiled plans for a new 3-D multimedia system to make its debut at Christmas 1995. That gives competitor 3-DO (whose system is due this fall) a two-year jump on the company. Thus, Nintendo is taking a big gamble, especially when you consider the problems it has had overcoming Sega's early lead in the 16-bit market."

Jeff Hansen completed the feat first; but was not awarded the money on a technicality.

For more on Link’s Awakening and the Whistle Stop Tour, I suggest the following video from The Gaming Historian, and I'll go back to talking about railroads that no longer exist. Thanks as always for reading!

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