Hi there, everyone. I’m back after a long hiatus. I know this seems to be the norm, but I’ve never been one to follow any sort of strict scheduling on anything other than my job and my schooling (although if you count badgering B.T. into one of our all night drink and eat very unhealthy food-a-thons I’m pretty consistent with that as well). Anyways, the big deal post of this Zelda week falls on my shoulders, because I’m the only one who has actually beaten Zelda II out of the main people here. Without further interruption, I present you, my take on The Adventure of Link.
Before we get started, I’d like to point out I always seem to be the one reviewing the black sheep games of this series. Or any series of that matter. Just an aside people, work with me here. So Zelda II, the only direct sequel in the series (yes I realize Nintendo did a timeline and yes I realize Majora’s Mask follows OoT, but it doesn’t give any indication those games were previous), follows the immediate end of the first game. After Ganon’s defeat, the world of Hyrule began to recover from the perils he enacted. While wandering throughout the land, Link notices the back of his hand began to glow with three strange triangles. Zelda was put to sleep by a wizard, because her brother was angry that he inherited the Triforce only partially, so out of revenge, the Prince had the wizard threaten Zelda unless she revealed the location of the Triforce of Courage. She refused, and the wizard died slowly afterward. The game chronicles Link’s quest to unite all three pieces of the Triforce to awaken her. Of course, Ganon’s old minions have other plans, for they want to revive him with the power of Link’s blood. That’s basically it as far as plot goes, but for a NES game it’ll do.
So what’s the big deal with this game? Why is it given such a bad rap? Well, unlike the first Zelda game, the majority of the gameplay was done from a side scrolling perspective. It also involved gaining experience, which didn’t translate well into a side-scrolling adventure game. This was a stark contract to the original game, which had a top down view and no platforming elements. The controls felt slippery, with Link continuing to run well after you stop holding a directional button down. The game was also very hard, with bad enemy and level design being the major contributors to the difficulty. And lastly, there was no clear indication of where to go. In an era before the internet, you had to rely on things like Nintendo Power, the Nintendo hotline, or a friend. Most of the NPCs don’t give you any idea of your next objective, and if they do, it’s too vague to figure out. But I can tell you, the game had some awesome elements that were built upon in future games of the series.
For starters, it showed that Ganon had the ability to be revived. This meant that no matter how many times he was defeated, there is always the chance for him to return. It is also one of the few games where he is not fought in any form, as he only appears at the Game Over screen. It was also the first game in the series to include magic, as well as different sword techniques, and the concept of different villages/towns in the land of Hyrule. The size of the world map is the biggest in any Zelda game. No game in the series has the amount of places and environments that Zelda II has. Adult Link (and a few other notable enemies, like Iron Knuckle and Volvagia) make their debut in this game. So while the game is difficult and there’s no sense of direction without outside sources, it did leave it’s mark on the series. And that’s where the game should get it’s recognition. That, and one more thing I conveniently left out…
Dark Link (also called Link’s Shadow) is one of the coolest bosses in the series. While the idea isn’t new (I believe it was ripped directly from Peter Pan), it was something I hadn’t expected going into the game. He’s the final boss of Zelda II, and it ends up being one of the hardest bosses in the series (if you aren’t using the glitch). The concept of fighting yourself and conquering the demons within was a great way to end the game, plus it made the ending of the implied romance between Link and Zelda only that much more sweeter. Dark Link has appeared in other games, most notably Ocarina of Time in the Water Temple. But to me, other than the magic system and the lore elements, Dark Link was the most interesting thing about Zelda II. While by no means a great game, I feel like giving the game a chance might change your opinion of it. It did for me. And that’s enough to see what they were trying to do, even if it wasn’t executed in the way it should have been. Is it the worst (canon) Zelda game? Maybe, but that still means it’s pretty damn good.
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