Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – Black Sheep of the Series Turns Out to Be My Favorite

I’ve never beaten a Zelda. None of them. I’ve played just about every iteration of the series. But I’ve never finished one. Until it was all I could play. Right now I’m stuck with just my 3DS. Currently living in a house with less stability than a cardboard box, so I’ve been keeping my equipment in storage. Thankfully Nintendo decided to give me 20 free games. I got 10 of those titles as NES Virtual Console games. I needed something to sink my teeth into. Zelda II answered the call.

Things I liked:

The Grind! The game requires you to level up along with the usual item collecting (that is traditional to a Zelda title) to progress through the game. Link has three traits that are upgradable. His sword (Damage) his health and his magic gauge. You can still expand your Health and Magic by obtaining items. But it’s far more effective to raise their worth through multipliers. AND I BECAME ADDICTED TO IT. It was fun to take a break from the game itself to master fighting certain creatures and find the best way to level up. You only have 3 lives to do this in or you lose all of the EXP and start from the last time you leveled up. So it’s a balancing act of finding tough enough enemies to not waste a ton of time leveling but also easy enough enemies so you don’t have to do it all over again. And you will have to do it all over again.

2D Sidescrolling ACTION! Another reason I’m not a fan of the top down Zeldas is that the action seem limited. It’s all about timing the block and the attack. Where in this 2D sidescrolling Zelda, you have more ways to attack or defend yourself. And you’ll need to use these techniques against a wave of enemies that all have different methods of attacking and different weaknesses. But the game really shined when I finally got the Down strike (Jump above an enemy and hold the sword down to attack). So many options came out of that one extra little move. More so than any of the magic you can attain. Which I should add, the game has some awesome Magic spells to learn in each of the games towns.

Music/Sound FX! Holy Crap a lot of the really great Zelda Tracks apparently come from this game. Every noise in this game is classic noises you’d expect to hear from a title of it’s age. Even the beeping of when you’re about to die is kind of charming, once.

Zelda II

Surprisingly, I loved it

Things I disliked:

Random Monsters! I know this is a trope from a lot of games of it’s period. But it’s 2011 and I’m playing it now. It still sucks regardless of when it was made. Fuck Random Enemies.

Item Collecting! Maybe this is why I dislike all the other Zeldas? But I don’t like having to find random items that have barely any clues and when I do find the clues they are vague and could be just random dialogue. Zelda II has a couple of these moments and I had to run to GameFAQs to not shoot myself. You should do the same (F’in boots).

Old School Difficulty! This is the reason to dislike the game. It’s from a time period where difficulty was derived from bad game design. I get the feeling that it’s not so much the case here. It was just really designed to feel like getting kicked in the balls after doing the same thing for a few hours. There is no Konami Code. You have 3 lives to advance far enough to have a reason to save the game. I’d play in spurts to grind, then ┬ádie and save. Or I’d actually advance the story and then die and save. Rarely did I do both.

Final Thoughts:

Let’s get this out of the way. I’m playing a game I’ve bought a couple of times and hardly played. Then once I had no choice and it was given to me for free, I played the shit out of it. Actually I’m probably going to keep playing it because I have nothing left to play.

I really do feel that this is the Best of the Zeldas. But the price of entry is so weird. I’ve tried to get myself into this game several times and failed. Maybe it was just the right time or maybe I’m finally old enough to appreciate the game. But it gave me a good 20 hour run of fun. I hate that it’s over. It’s not out to purchase on the 3DS yet, but it’s a measly $5.00 on the Wii. Go buy it, it’s worth it!

Zelda II

Play this game! I mean it.

Bryan Belcher

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