Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: December 1, 1988 Also On: None

It is often called the black sheep of the Zelda series. It is also often called the worst game in the Zelda series. But let me say this; if Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the worst game in the Zelda series, that is a testament to the high quality of the series as a whole, because it certainly cannot be an insult to this game. Many fans of The Legend of Zelda were outraged by this game, but wrongfully so. This game, as much as any other, deserves to be named as a good entry into the world of gaming.

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This game was released in the late 1980s, shortly after the success of its predecessor. For its time, its graphics are not particularly memorable, but they do get the job done. As with all games made by Nintendo, you can tell the difference between things in the foreground and things in the background, although I must admit neither the foreground nor the background is particularly detailed. On the bright side though, there is very little slowdown in this game, especially when compared to its predecessor. Overall the graphics are passable, above average even, but not memorable.

The sound effects also suffer from some mediocrity. It can get old to listen to the sound of Link hitting an enemy with his sword after you’ve heard that sound a thousand times. The same is true of many of the other sound effects in the game. Most of the music in this game is decent, but not memorable, although the two palace themes are, in my opinion, very well done. You also have your classic Zelda “you got an itemâ€? music when you find items.

The story to this game is fairly common NES fare. Ganon has been slain by Link, but now Link has developed the mark of the Triforce on his hand. Link is told that the mark indicates that he is one who is worthy to find the Triforce of Courage to wake sleeping Princess Zelda from her sleep. So Link sets out to do so. Not an overly memorable story, but games of this era hardly ever had memorable stories.

The reason this game is looked down upon by many Zelda fans is that, in many ways, it isn’t like the other Zelda games. Even compared to the original Legend of Zelda, there are very few puzzles to solve, and the game comes out seeming more like a medieval action game. This game, by any other name, would have gotten a lot more respect than it gets.

Anyway, you have Link. Link has a sword and a shield, just like in The Legend of Zelda. However, where you fought in a bird’s-eye-view in The Legend of Zelda, you now only move around the world in bird’s-eye-view. When you run into an enemy, cave, or other area that needs closer investigation, the game switches to a two-dimensional view. In this two-dimensional view, Link can attack or evade enemies, jump over holes, or do whatever else needs to be done. Towns are also in the two-dimensional view, and Link can talk to people and enter doors.

Link’s shield will automatically block anything it can block that hits it. However, Link has two areas in which he can be hit, and his shield only guards one of them at a time. Link can guard his top by just standing or walking, or he can stop and duck to guard his bottom, an action that also makes him somewhat shorter so that things that can sneak over the top of his shield will now go over his head. Depending on which position he is in, he can also attack high or low. He can even duck in midair to do high or low attacks in the air to hit enemies, but he has less control over his shield in the air than on the ground. Later on in the game Link will learn how to attack upward or downward while in the air, with the downward attack capable of bouncing on an enemy multiple times to inflict more damage.

All of this attacking of enemies is necessary in this game, not only to get items from them, but to get experience points also. Every enemy you beat will either give you a set number of experience points based on how difficult it is to beat, or it will leave an item for you. What items an enemy leaves is based on how many experience points the enemy is worth. However, some particularly nasty enemies will steal experience points when they hit you, and the ones that do that are typically ones that don’t give you any for beating them.

The experience points in this game are fairly useful, for, like any RPG, they allow you to upgrade your character. In most Zelda games upgrades are based on items obtained, and indeed in this game both your life and magic bars can be made longer by four heart pieces and four potion bottles hidden throughout the world, but you also have three categories that you can upgrade with your experience points. If you upgrade your life, when you get hit you will take less damage. If you upgrade your magic, you will use less magic points when casting a spell. If you upgrade your attack, your attacks will become more powerful.

You start with each of these categories at level 1 and can upgrade them to level 8. Of course, later levels require more points than earlier levels. You can choose which order to upgrade them in, and you can choose to save points to upgrade things in whatever order you like, but it is generally easier to just upgrade each category as you get enough points to do so, lest you lose all your lives and thus lose all the points you’ve earned.

This is actually the first Zelda game where Link knows how to use magic. In each of the eight towns that Link can visit, he can learn a spell. These spells vary both in what they do and in how many magic points they cost to use at each magic level, but you will need to learn most of them to progress through the game, and what ones you do not need to learn are useful as well.

There are only seven palaces in this game, as opposed to the nine levels found in its predecessor, and as I mentioned before, they involve more fighting than they do puzzle solving, although a few minor puzzles do exist. There are also other things to do and items to find outside of the palaces. For an NES game this game does last quite a long time. It, like its predecessor, does have a save battery, and like its predecessor, you must lose all your lives in order to save.

One other thing that should be mentioned is that this game is reasonably difficult, especially near the end, so you can easily spend some extra time replaying sections on this game. However, this game is not so difficult as to not be worth persevering through, as you can get a strong sense of accomplishment when you beat it, even if it isn’t the first time. Zelda fan or not, I recommend that you get this game if you have an NES.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8
Written by Martin Review Guide

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