Fair warning: Spoilers abound from here on out. If you haven't played the game, leave now or suffer the indignity of having one of the best Game Boy games ruined for you without playing through it yourself.
The appearance of the beloved "Legend of Zelda" series on the Game Boy was a reason to rejoice for many series fans, giving gamers hours of entertainment while they explored the little island of Koholint, a place that was but a dot on the Hyrulian map, and yet seemed to contain far more secrets than any full-sized kingdom should. There were plenty of differences, to be sure, but perhaps the most significant was that unlike every other previous Zelda title, one fairly important thing was missing: Zelda herself.
In her place, though far from being the easily-kidnapped stereotype that Link's favorite princess fell into in previous titles, was smart-talking, strong-moraled, smooth-singing Marin. What's more is that instead of being content to be simple window dressing as Zelda was, Marin had no problem going on adventures with Link himself, pointing out the error of his ways, hustling shopkeepers, scolding Link when he accidentally (we hope) smacked a chicken, and using her singing talents to (I am not making this up) scare a walrus.
While it's never outright stated, it seems like there's a pretty good chance that Marin and Link wind up having a vibe of sorts going: he cares for her, and she cares for him. At one point, Marin and Link sit on the beach together, watching the tide come in and listening to the songs of the seagulls, while she regales him with tales of her life to this point, her belief that something must exist beyond the waters that surround the island, and that if she could have one wish granted, it would be to be a bird with wings so that she could fly out beyond the island and sing for all the people of the world.
She's not just taking an ego trip: Marin has a beautiful voice, and her "Song of the Wind Fish" is one of the most peaceful and calming compositions ever to appear in a Zelda game, despite the restrictions of the simple, tinny Game Boy speaker.
As (hopefully) every Zelda fan knows by now, as the story of Link's Awakening unfolds, it becomes more and more clear that Koholint Island and its inhabitants do not technically "exist," at least not in the physical sense. It seems that the people, monsters, dungeons and animals of Koholint may be nothing more than the disturbed dreams of a creature known as the Wind Fish, a sky-sailing whale-like creature who is being plagued by nightmares. Waking the Wind Fish is essential to free it from its torment, and this is why Link has been summoned into the dream of this majestic animal. But what then of the island's inhabitants? If they are all simply dreams, won't waking the Wind Fish cause them to disappear forever? It's a question Link has to wrestle with as he assembles the eight instruments he needs to wake the Wind Fish, knowing that by doing so he will be dooming the inhabitants to an eternity of non-existence, but also knowing that unless he succeeds in driving away the Wind Fish's nightmares, he himself will never find his way back to Hyrule and his own home.
Of course, all great quests come to an end, and Link rounds up the instruments he needs, destroys the final incarnation of the Nightmares, and wakes the Wind Fish. And just as it was predicted, Koholint Island and everything on it and under it vanish into the ether, including Marin.
Or does she?
If Link manages to finish the game without dying, achieving a perfect run, there's a special surprise awaiting our intrepid elf after the ending credits roll: Marin appears, sporting a brand new pair of beautiful wings, and flies slowly off the screen, presumably to other worlds where she will fulfill her own dream of singing to the people of other lands, and the Song of the Wind Fish plays once more to remind the player that she is not truly gone as long as Link remembers her. I can't remember another time I have smiled so widely at a video game ending surprise as I did after a perfect run of Link's Awakening. It's a beautiful ending to a storybook adventure, and it ensures that the player will remember the plot long after the cart itself has stopped working. And that deserves a little smile, don't you think?