Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Box Art

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

System: NES

Release Date: December 1988

Developer: Nintendo R&D 4

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Action

Much like Castlevania II, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is a game that tends to go either way with the fans. Will Nintendo find a way to build upon the original? We’ll find out. The last time I remember playing through Zelda II was with my buddy Bobby back in the early Aughties on the special collectors Zelda disc on Gamecube. I can’t say if we finished it, because I didn’t remember the final level.

Ganon was defeated, but his evil presence still bothers the denizens of Hyrule. The OG Princess Zelda has been in a deep slumber for a long time and it’s up to Link to find the Triforce of Courage and awaken her. In order to unlock the path to the Triforce, you must traipse through six palaces and replace crystals deep in their hearts. Along the way, you’ll find items to grant you access to the next palace. Zelda II is as linear as it gets, but that’s a good thing. You can’t get yourself stuck in a spot without what you need until the very end.

Link is equipped with a sword and shield. This time, there is an overworld screen where you travel among towns, palaces, and caverns. Occasionally, monsters show up on the overworld. If you bump into one, you are sent into a side scrolling scene where you must escape to either the left or the right. Inside the screen are enemies that can be killed. Most of them will award you experience points and the occasional magic jar or bonus points bag. To begin with, Link can only swing with the B Button and jump with the A Button. When his health is full, the sword shoots a beam, though it doesn’t hurt all enemies it comes in contact with. Some enemies will attack with weapons and projectiles that can be blocked with the shield, as long as it’s held at the correct height.

As you progress through the game, you gain magic that can be used to make your life a bit easier. The shield magic cuts damage in half and becomes invaluable late in the game. The jump magic is necessary to reach higher ground and jump big gaps. Fire is the only way to damage some enemies later in the game. Spell is necessary to get a special item. Fairy gets you to certain out of the way places. Life is the only way to replenish health. Reflect allows you to block stronger attacks and shoot back at Wizrobes. Thunder damages all enemies on screen and is the only way to make the penultimate boss vulnerable.

Link must also find two hidden swordsmen that teach you the down thrust and the up thrust. These are super important to both navigation and protecting yourself as you platform through the stages. The bosses of each palace can be fun to fight, but some of the normal enemies are just infuriating. I’m looking at you Blue Iron Knuckle! Through perseverance, you’ll be able to fight your way to the final labyrinth and collect the Triforce of Courage, awakening the princess and winning the game.

Graphics: 3.0

Graphics are fine. The overworld isn’t very detailed. Link, enemies, and backgrounds are pretty plain in side-scrolling scenes.

Sound: 2.5

While the music isn’t offensive on its own merit, the constant switching between overworld and side-scrolling with the annoying sound effect in between grates on the nerves after awhile.

Gameplay: 3.0

Once you get powered up, Link is pretty satisfying to control. The game basically turns around when you get the down thrust and start messing around with that.

Difficulty: 3.0

You will die in this game and Ganon will laugh at you as he returns, but you can always pick up where you left off. There are a lot of cheap deaths that you’ll have to deal with in platforming areas with pits. I would have rage quit if not for rewind.

Fun Factor: 2.5

I’ll be honest, it’s above average in the fun department, but it’s not a game I’m likely to ever come back to. I’ve had enough to last me the rest of my life.

Overall Grade: 2.8

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link earns a B. It’s certainly worth a play, but it’s not nearly as good as the original. Legend of Zelda will get the sequel it deserves in a few years.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Video Review on YouTube