Small wonder you played through it thrice, had to get your money's worth after blending so many games!
Also, stop blending old-school Zelda cartridges. Sacrilege.
Awesome. The price is perfect too - it's only £1.99 here in sunny ol' England.
One minor recommendation I'd give about this otherwise great review is to place a link to the game's homepage at the end of it. I know there's already a link near the beginning, but it's mixed in with the first paragraph so it's easy to miss once you've finished reading the whole review. Apart from that, it's done a good job of selling me on the game.
...and I already have it? When did I buy that? Whatever, BRB, installing.
"...and battle some decent, albeit slightly bland, dungeon bosses."
Decent, but bland. That sums up my feelings about the entire game. It was a while back, but I remember the main culprit being the overworld, with it's hivemind villagers and arbitrary little mazes.
Also, the fact that someone is actively running an Inn while the island is cut off from the outside doesn't make sense, and the game would have worked fine without one.
Things like that made it feel like they just followed a template. Functional, but lacking in character.
Much preferred Anodyne (though that one did get pretty weird with it's whole metaphor thing), and Ittle Dew (which pushed the puzzle side of the Zelda formula).
Bland is indeed the best description here.
I had a quick whirl at it on the back of this review but three dungeons in I find myself disappointed and unlikely to revisit or complete the game. The problem is not so much that it takes a classic game (Link's Awakening) and fails to innovate or build upon it, but that it fails to show an core understanding of what made that game so good in the first place.
It reminds me of those late generation rushed-to-market point and click adventures in that everything is reduced to a maze. Dungeons are a linear string of switches and key doors arranged around dead ends. Hub and spoke designs or complicated interwoven loops simply don't exist here. You can rarely have more than one key at a time and the only branching paths are things you'll have to retrace your steps to in addition to the mandatory backtracking. There is one optional chest per dungeon and its always in a single room dead end just off the main path. Instead of rewarding the player for exploring, the game doles out punishment for venturing down the main road first. Sadly, this problem has been plaguing many actual Zelda games for some years now too.
Puzzles similarly boil down into a maze. Every one I encountered was some form of push block through simple maze on to switch. What the switch would then activate was typically ambiguous and required backtracking to discover. Even the archery minigame is just another maze, although the swordplay minigame does at least ask the player to have a keen eye on the surroundings. Combat is bland and largely optional. It's simply easier and more rewarding to walk past enemies. This is all compounded by a slow walk speed that I initially thought was due to the character trudging through wet sand, yet persists throughout the game.
There's also an inconsistent degree of polish. Coins spew out of chests in a highly satisfying manner, the rain effects are pretty, but knockback is inconsistent, monsters just vanish when they die and one dialogue I encountered seemed to have been presented in the wrong order!
On the positive side, the pixel art is bright and colourful, the music is absolutely delightful and the price point is low, but sadly, these strengths simply can't support the rest of the game.