Game Review

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Darren Calvert

The black sheep of the family?

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is often referred to as the black sheep of the Zelda family. Unlike the original Zelda games, the top-down perspective is replaced in favour of side-scrolling platform action, similar to that found in Castlevania.

Perhaps more significantly than that, it is the only Zelda game to offer an RPG levelling-up system. It also has a large overworld map with caves, towns and palaces, not to mention random encounters with baddies. Throw in a number of subquests to complete which allow you to obtain vital skills and items which became a feature of future Zelda games, and there's a lot going on.

So is this game as bad as some would make out? Well no, not really. If you take it for what it is, the game is actually very entertaining. It does have its share of flaws and lacks the timeless quality of the other Zelda games, but compared to many other NES titles, it stands up quite well over time.

Let’s get this out of the way now, Zelda II is a tough experience. Not in a challenging way which is fun, but rather it can be very frustrating. When you die and choose to continue you’ll have to start the game right from the very start; this is a game crippling flaw meaning you'll have to traverse the massive overworld and take on all those random baddies again, just to make your way back to the palace for another stab at completing the game. One repetitive trip across Hyrule too many and you’ll want to throw your controller at the TV.

The dungeons are simpler than a regular Zelda game too, and don’t really require any logic to complete. There are no puzzles to speak of, just the hack, slash and kill mechanics of a regular action platform game, which would be fine if this wasn't part of the Zelda series. The overworld is a particular frustration for the simple reason that certain vital items are hidden in unmarked areas; did the developers seriously expect that gamers would want to trace every square pixel of the game in the hope of finding something, with no clues?


Despite the flaws mentioned above, there are a lot of good things to be said about Zelda II. It is at heart a good old-fashioned Nintendo adventure and still has the charm to entertain after all these years. For Zelda fans this is a slice of history you should delve into, however for newcomers to the series it's recommended that you start somewhere else, namely the excellent A Link To The Past on the SNES.

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User Comments (22)



Nintendork said:

Wow, this is the only game I bought used and returned in less than 10 minutes (Classic NES port)



timp29 said:

This is the zelda I have had the most fun replaying. I understand why there is a dislike for it, it really is a departure from the classic zelda style of game, but I find it a refreshing breath of fresh air. Good fun if you like old school platforming.



NESnes said:

As a hardcore gamer, I love this game, and have beat it many times. WARNING: The learning curve is steep, very steep. Once you get past that, the game is very playable. You need to understand that this is a STRATEGY based game, utilizing the proper magic at the proper time is what allows for success, fighting skills will not get you far. You also need to level up significantly right away. Are you a Zelda fan? Then I would only recommend this if you are ALSO a hardcore gamer. NES veterans should be able to handle it. Everyone else should just walk away with their tail tucked between their legs.



grumblegrumble said:

timp29... I totally agree! Zelda 2 is a welcome breath of fresh air, and I love it as much now as I did when it came out and I was standing in line at the drug store to purchase it. Lovely graphics, characters and the castles are amazing! Love this game! I give it a 9!



Bass_X0 said:

I've been putting this game off since it got released but thanks to 1000 free points from the Ambassador Connection (I gifted myself Zelda II from my nephew's console) I'm able to play it again. I already have it on the Zelda collection but the save states of the VC version will come in handy. I never did like having to lose all your EXP when you save to turn the game off and I remember being too bored to level up so I used to lose points that way. But no more. I'm currently in the first dungeon grinding away (killing the three Stalfos then the Knight for 140 EXP then grabbing the fairy to leave with my points intact then re-enter to repeat the process). The game is difficult and I wouldn't call myself a great gamer at the old NES games.

Star Tropics is a harder, more frustrating and more boring game than Zelda II (I've been stuck on Star Tropics for ages now trying to rescue the dolphin; I end up with very little health by the time I reach the boss).



Scottie said:

Is this game really better then Star Tropics (which whilst hard i can still beat). I have been thinking about getting this for a while as well. Is it definitely worth 500 points? I love both the Star Tropics games is it like them at all?



MageNoobMan57 said:

No... they've always been 500. SNES is 800 and N64 is 1000 (not including all the other platforms available on VC).

Might check this out, if anything it will be just to get a piece of 8bit Zelda history.



MrMagpie said:

I got this as part of the ambassador deal, and was made a bit nervous by some of the above comments, but am currently playing it and like it a lot more than the original LOZ. 7 does seem a fair score though - as with most NES games, technology seems to be holding it back.



Geonjaha said:

Honestly a very flawed game. Playing both this and the original on the 3DS really there just isnt any competition. Many people back this game up but to be honest the difficulty isnt enjoyable - its just frustrating. Any game that wastes so much of your time just to elongate the game when you mess up without the option of turning the feature off has a lot of issues on its own. People may argue this adds to the difficulty - but there are plenty more creative ways to do that in a game that would have worked better - it isn't more difficult, it just wastes your time.

If it werent for the reset when you die the game would be better - but to be honest it bored me easily. I played for about an hour to see what the fuss was about from people hyping the game and it just got me bored. Luckily when I game over'ed and lost everything I decided it would be a good time to stop playing and go to the original, which is much more enjoyable - not just as a Zelda game, but as a well made one.

@6 I love it when Zelda II fans try to challenge everyone that doesnt play their game. Newsflash! - It's not just the difficulty of the game that drives people away, but the fact that it's not actually any fun. We're the ones walking away honestly knowing that there are much more challenging games out there that manage to make the process fun. This is gaming after all.



kyuubikid213 said:

I...don't have as much fun with Zelda II as I did the first. First, just let me say that I LOVE ZELDA GAMES. I love them to death, but this one didn't do it for me for ONE reason.

The Lives system. The first Zelda didn't have any of that nonsense. But the thing about the first Zelda is if you died, you came back at the start of the dungeon. All of you stuff was still intact and you could rethink what you did wrong and press forward. In Zelda II, you lose your 3 lives, you go back to the BEGINNING OF THE GAME. This is difficult because you have to (most of the time) go through caves to get to a new town or a new palace. However, difficult monsters are in the caves. YOU WILL LOSE AT LEAST ONE LIFE DEALING WITH THESE BUMS. And once you've finally overcome them, another one is there later in the cave. Once you finally make it out of the cave, you have one life left. Then, a new enemy shows up that you don't know how to deal with and BAM. Last life gone. Now you start back at the beginning. You have to go through the cave AGAIN and fight the monster AGAIN and you screw up AGAIN. I would have liked it if you would AT LEAST come back to life in the last TOWN you visit.

This game is the lowest rated Zelda game for me. A 7.85/10 because I really do like it, it is just completely unfair.



kyuubikid213 said:

@NESnes In short, this game is hard as HELL. If you want to make any progress, use walkthroughs and FAQs to find all the Heart and Magic Containers and GRIND, GRIND, GRIND.



starcrunch061 said:

I always find it strange that people think this game is so hard. I actually think that, without guides, the original is harder (grumble, grumble - LMAO). Combat can be trying, but it's never overly difficult, with the sole exception being the birds in the Great Palace.

This is a great game. I can respect that people enjoy the different style of the other games, but it seems strange to say that this game is bad, because those games are good. I actually found the front view refreshing in the day, and not bad today.



Mok said:

I loved this game on the NES, played it at my friend's house ALL. THE. TIME. I loved the rpg element in it and don't think it's a black sheep at all. Getting this for my 3DS as soon as it's out.



Trikeboy said:

I finally beat this game after I got it as a 3DS ambassador. I have tried many times to finish it through original carts, rereleases and via emulators but never managed to finish it.

The key to succeding in this game is to treat it like an rpg. Level up as much as you can. This does mean killing lots and lots and lots of random enemies but there are places you can do it really quickly. There are also more tricks like not killing the dungeon boss since you automatically level up. Save them for when you are in higher levels so you can get the next level easily.

If you play it like that and not like a traditional Zelda game (go to the dungeon, kill the boss, go to the next dungeon, kill the boss) then the game is surprisingly easier. Also, I don't see many people talking about this, but when you finish the game, continue playing the same file to play again with all your levels in check. This game has excellent replayability. A must buy (I wouldn't have said the 3 years ago).



KLZ said:

If you die in a dungeon and select continue, you start from the begining of the dungeon! Only if you die on the overworld or if you select to save you start from the begining of the game. Seriously is not that hard.



Trikeboy said:

@KLZ If you die in the final dungeon you start back at the start of the dungeon. Every other one you have to start from the castle.

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