Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – Review

As was the case with The Legend of Zelda, there is a little cutout to show the golden NES cart.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is drastically different from its predecessor. With a sword and shield equipped, Link still travels Hyrule’s reaches in an effort to save princess Zelda, but the way I did it as a player was different.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was developed and published by Nintendo, and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988. The Adventure of Link takes place a few years after The Legend of Zelda. One day, Link notices a Triforce appear on the back of his hand. He seeks out Impa who shows him that princess Zelda has fallen into a slumber. Impa tells Link why this is, and that to wake Zelda, he must retrieve the Triforce of Courage from the Great Palace. Entry to the Great Palace cannot be gained until six magical crystals are placed in six palaces spread throughout Hyrule.

As I left Zelda's bedside and ventured into Hyrule, I saw that the overworld is presented quite differently.

With my objective known, I left princess Zelda’s castle and ventured out into Hyrule. Like The Legend of Zelda, I controlled Link on the overworld and saw Hyrule via a top-down perspective, looking down on him. Unlike The Legend of Zelda however, I did not move from screen to screen. Instead of moving around the overworld one screen at a time, I was free to move about as I pleased, or so I thought.

After walking around for a little bit, enemy silhouettes appeared. I could try and avoid them, but if I wasn’t successful a battle would start. My view of Link changed in the battle. Instead of being above him as on the overworld, I now saw him from the side; The Adventure of Link became a side-scrolling game when I saw him from the side. To return to the overworld, I had to walk to either end of the battle scene. I do call these battle scenes for a reason however, there are enemies hindering my exit, but defeating them earns experience points. Once I had enough experience points, I was able to level up an attribute: strength, health, or magic. Leveling up strength made my attacks stronger, leveling up health allowed me to take more damage, and leveling up magic made my spells use less magic.

Battles took place on the terrain I was on when I touched the enemy silhouette. If I was in a swamp, I would have a harder time moving about the battle scene. If I had touched an enemy on a road I wouldn’t have to fight them at all. Knowing this I was able to avoid battles if I was near a road. Depending on where I was the enemies would be different as well. As I got farther into the game, the enemies became tougher but were worth more experience. If I lost all my health, I would lose a life. I began with three lives each time I played and if I lost all three, it was game over.

Following the road from Zelda’s castle led me to a town. One of my complaints about The Legend of Zeldawas the lack of human life, so I was happy to see a town. Entering the town again shifted my view of Link to the side. Throughout the game there were many more towns. In towns I talked with residents and learned more about Hyrule and my next objective. After completing side quests, I was also able to learn new magic spells, vital to the completion of the game.

With the exception of the overworld, The Adventure of Link is a side-scrolling game.

After exploring more of Hyrule I eventually ran into a palace. It was in palaces that I needed to set the six crystals I had, necessary to opening the Great Palace. Undertaking palaces was also a side-scrolling affair. I navigated my way through each palace’s myriad of rooms, eventually coming across an item vital to my progression. These items were usually related to navigating the overworld and reaching new areas. Searching palaces thoroughly would bring me to the boss of the palace. Boss fights were tough; if I was lucky I wouldn’t lose all my lives, having to restart at Zelda’s castle, but this wasn’t always the case.

Once I had ventured through all of Hyrule, found every item, learned every magic spell, it was finally time for me to attempt the Great Palace. It was an endeavor that took me a few hours and much rage. Getting to the Great Palace was almost as tough as the palace itself. I had to make my way through many forced battles, battles I could not avoid, but I was able to overcome this obstacle relatively easily.

The Great Palace was bigger than any of the previous palaces, in fact, it was probably twice as big as any other palace, and its layout was much more confusing. The enemies inside were the toughest in the game, but I evaded as many as I could, saving my health and lives for the boss battle. I knew I was getting closer when I came across a fairy (restores all of Link’s health) and an extra life.

And there it was a giant red bird, a third of the screen or larger, shooting fireballs everywhere. It took me a few lives before I realized that I had to cast the strongest magic spell in Link’s arsenal, and only then was the bird vulnerable. Even then I still had to restart a couple of times, but luckily I restarted at the entrance of the Great Palace and not at Zelda’s castle. I conquered it and walked down the hallway to find the Triforce of Courage, but then it disappeared and Link’s shadow began attacking me! I had to defeat Shadow Link, which was also quite difficult. But I prevailed; I completed Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, one of the toughest games I’ve managed to beat.

Classic.

Like I did with The Legend of Zelda, I also made a collection of maps to go along with The Adventure of Link. There are some spots in the game where it is necessary to make a map. The maze of Death Mountain and the Great Palace come to mind. Mapping the palaces was a tad difficult, but the overworld was as easy as or easier than mapping it in The Legend of Zelda. It lengthened the time it took me to complete The Adventure of Link, but it helped me out in the end. I was able to max out each of Link’s attributes and I found every heart and magic container hidden in Hyrule.

And here is my completed overworld map for the game. I might fill in the ocean at some point, but I'm pleased with it for now.

So, I’ve talked a lot about the game now and I hope whoever reads this knows a lot more about how the game plays, but what do I think about it? I liked a lot about Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Having way more NPCs and actual towns made Hyrule feel more alive, something I didn’t like about The Legend of Zelda. The Adventure of Link retained a strong emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving, while still maintaining a lot of action. The combat is where the game falls apart for me. My actions didn’t seem as precise as they needed to be to defeat some enemies, and a lot of enemies were frustrating because what I did wasn’t effective or they took a lot of damage. Having to restart at Zelda’s castle was frustrating, especially when I was trying to get on the other side of Hyrule. It was a difficult game, especially in the end. If someone was interested in playing it, I’d recommend until they reached the Great Palace. It was very difficult and required a lot of motivation, but then again being able to say I completed Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is pretty awesome.

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