Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES 1987)

In loving memory of our cousin Lára who introduced me to this game and with it, RPG games in general.

In 1987 Zelda II – The Adventure of Link came out as the second instalment in the popular legend of Zelda franchise. Now I must warn readers that I may be biased about this game since I played this game as a child and have spent many hours falling in love with the game but I also recognise it´s flaws so without further introduction lets dive into the meat of this review.

Gameplay

Zelda II – The Adventure of Link is a sequel to The Legend of Zelda andmade by the same people as it´s predecessor ( with a few exceptions). However this game is vastly different than the previous installment. This game introduces things like npc´s and towns that later became a standard element in the franchise. Additionally the game introduces RPG elements into the Zelda franchise that since then have been disregarded. Things like levels, experience points and magic spells that have non combat purposes like higher jumps and turning into a flying fairy. The game has a overworld map like it´s predecessor. While walking around you get attacked by 3 enemy icons that force you into combat mode similar to random encounters in many other RPG games.

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The world map. Once you collide with these jerks you enter combat mode.

 

Random encounters have been a RPG trope since the first final fantasy, however the random encounters in Zelda II are way better because if you position yourself wisely you can choose the difficulty of the enemies or simply avoid the encounter entirely. However once you enter combat, towns or dungeons you enter a side scrolling mode where the combat is more intricate than the previous installments.

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Link in side scrolling mode.

Link blocks incoming blows with his shield automatically and can either swing his sword in a high or a low position and once you meet with a couple of sword masters in the towns on his adventures the player can thrust his sword in a upward or downward direction. This increases the level of enjoyment during the combat especially the boss fights and the higher level enemies like the evil knights that can be found in the dungeons, when you fight these opponents you get the feel like you are in a bitching swordfight and when low on HP, it creates many exciting nerve wrecking moments.

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Link tearing shit up.

Story

The story of Zelda II is a direct sequel to the story of Zelda I. A sleeping spell has been cast on Princess Zelda and Link must gather the triforce in order the wake her from her slumber. In the meantime Ganon´s minions are trying to gather the triforce for their own in order to resurrect their master. This game along with Majora’s mask is the only game that is a direct story sequel to it´s predecessor and has the same Link as the previous instalment (although the Link in game boy´s Links Awakening is the same Link from the first two games but I have never included the handheld Zelda games when thinking about the story of the franchise).

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Link getting ready for shit.

The good

What really captured my attention about this game when I was a child was the RPG elements. I had not seen experience points in the other games that I was playing at the time like Super Mario bros or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I really liked the fact that once you got enough XP to upgrade your attack strength you were able to kill enemies that previously took two attacks to kill in one strike. I spent a lot of time in the towns, talking to the npc’s and looking back this game probably taught me my first lessons in English since the other games I was playing at the time did not feature much text.

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This guy is Error.

Each town had a lady that was missing some object and once you returned that object to her she would let you in her house to speak to the wise man in her basement that would teach you a spell that you needed to progress through the game. I seriously spent so much time on this game that I started dreaming about it, mainly because the time I spent playing it I wasn´t mindlessly jumping on the heads of walking mushrooms but I was carefully thinking about the next step and what skill I was going to level up next and many other things. But enough of my childhood insanity.

I previously mentioned the combat system and the different approach to the random encounters which are totally rad so I won´t go into it again.

Another good thing that I must mention about the overworld map is that I really like how well in connects. Once you have completed the first two dungeons of the game you get a hammer that can smash roadblocks which allows you to move around the map without repeating everything that you have been doing. Another thing I love about the game is the magic system.

Link has a variety of spells that basically makes him a fucking paladin warrior. He has spells that raises his defence and raises the reflection of his shield and also a spell that lets him heal a percentage of his health and spell that fires a firebolt out of his sword and even a fucking spell the blasts everything in sight with fucking bolts of lightning. Enemies sometimes drop flasks of magic which allows for pretty frequent use of these spells.

What also makes this game great compared to other games of it´s time is it´s replay value. The game has a new game plus mode where once you beat the final dungeon you start the game over but with the same level and stats.

 

The Bad

Ok so on to the bad, I think I´ve made it obvious that I really like this game but no game is without it´s flaws and this game has a bunch of them.

So to start with I have to say that I never completed the game as a child.

You see this game sometimes doesn´t make any god damn sense. I mentioned before that each town has a lady that needs something in order for you to learn a new spell. Normally it´s something that you find in a dungeon or a cave but in one instance however there is a woman who needs water to drink and my 8 year old self thought to himself “well better look for a flask of water in the nearby caves” but there was no such thing. It was only later that I realized that this is the easiest puzzle in the game. You see there is a water fountain next to the woman´s house, normally these fountains are decorative and there is no hint that the player is able to interact with them. However the player is able to interact with this one fountain and collect some water for this dumb bimbo that didn´t think to get water for herself. I mentioned before that I used to dream about this game but it wasn´t always pleasant dreams, sometimes it was just a “how to fuck do I get this bitch some water” dream.

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This fucking fountain.

Now this may sound like I am dumb for not figuring this out but I never did and I never learned this spell. Another thing that I was stuck on was a place in a town where you have to jump on a couple of houses and enter a locked house through the chimney like fucking Mario down a green fucking tube. Now maybe I am being a total complainy paths but this is the first and last instance where the player is able to go down chimneys in this manner and I simply just didn’t think of it. You see in game design the best games teach the player how to play the game while playing it. If there had been even just one instance where there was one other instance of a chimney or a tube that you could enter in this manner then maybe I would have been able to figure this out but alas I never did. Keeping the complaining train going, the only way to defeat the next the last boss is to do the thunder spell and the only way to do the thunder spell is to collect all magic canisters that are scattered throughout Hyrule. Normally in Zelda games the heart canister collecting is a sub quest that is not necessary for completing the game since many of these canisters are in a pretty hard to find location. And I have to say that this would have stumped 8 year old me as well.

Another small thing I think would have been better is that the game does not share the same composer as the other games in the series and the game looses a sense of continuity because of it. Don’t get me wrong I actually like the music in the game, I don´t think that games should recycle the same music all the time. But I did miss the iconic “Link finding a secret” sound that we all know and love.This sound makes me jizz my pants

In conclusion

Even though I have mentioned a few flaws I genuinely love this game and consider it to be one of the best Zelda games even though it is so different from it´s predecessor or sequels. I highly recommend it but I also recommend using the internet for help in certain parts of the game instead of getting stuck and annoyed.

 

Gameplay 9
Visuals 8

Music 7
Lasting appeal 9
Is it fun? 9

Overall 8,5

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