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Just a Dream?

I first played The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening when I was about 11 years old, and before I'd so much as read the manual or booted the game for the first time I was basically assuming, between the name and the surreal image of an enormous egg on a mountaintop, that the game's premise was rooted in a dreamscape.

Then I read the manual, and it just reinforced this interpretation: dungeon bosses are named "Nightmares" in Link's Awakening, where other Zelda games just call them bosses. There's not exactly a lot of subtlety here, and in playing the game literally every Nightmare you defeat drops "hints" (Several of them are all but explicitly saying this) that the island is a dream and so too is everything in it except the player character.
So I spent more than a decade assuming that literally everyone who played the game understood from the beginning, or at least by the time of the second or third dungeon, that the game's events took place…

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