Directed By: Tadashi Sugiyama, Yoichi Yamada
Produced By: Shigeru Miyamoto
Release Date: January 14th, 2987
Holy fuck, powering through this one isn’t easy. Not because it’s a bad game. I actually love this game. This one is literally not easy to get through. It’s not just NES game hard.
It’s Zelda 2 hard. A class all it’s own. And a class that I’m barely managing to get a passing grade in.
Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link is a very different game from the first game. Whereas the first one was a top-down open-world adventure, the second is a side scrolling platformer RPG. That seems like a natural progression if there ever was one. At least by NES standards.
This game’s plot picks up a time after the first game. Zelda has been sent into a deep sleep, and it’s up to Link to save the day and prevent the resurrection of Ganon. And by prevent, I mean actively cause by falling into the same god damn pit over and over again thanks to those god damn bubbles and flying skulls!
Sorry. What was I talking about?
This game has a simple gameplay loop. You wander about the open world, get into encounters where you fight waves of enemies, then move on. After many battles and a few puzzles, you find your way into a dungeon and slaughter your way through it. You learn different sword skills and magic to help you along your quest, and you level up to make surviving a bit easier.
Each time you level, you can select one stat to boost. You can raise your maximum health, magic or your attack power. Each can go up a total of eight times, and you can also upgrade your stats with different pick ups scattered across the world. For each dungeon you defeat, you gain one free level.
So make sure you’re not one kill away from leveling up before you kill a boss for maximum effect. Unlike I always did, because I’m stupid.
Speaking of the bosses, holy fuck are they fun! Many of them are really cool and fun to fight, but they do vary in quality. Chief among them is the final boss: Dark Link. It’s an intense one-on-one duel between a perfect mirror of yourself. The attention to detail is amazing, with little extra touches that make him feel more real. He won’t move unless you move; he is your shadow, after all.
Or you can just do this.
But that’s not fun, now is it?
Now, there is one thing that I’ve mentioned a few times now. The main issue that many people have with this game. It’s hard. Really hard.
Some of it is well designed and fair. The Darknuts, for example, are hard but fair, as they’re defenses and attacks are hard to slip through, but it’s fair and doable once you’ve figured it out. Many of the levels, on the other hand, are far less fair. They’re filled with instant kill pits, enemies that take way too long to kill, and incredibly specific and difficult puzzles.
The checkpoint system is also hot nonsense. Mainly because it doesn’t fucking exist! If you die at any point in the game, you’re going straight back to the beginning! Sure, you can open up different shortcuts to make it take less time, but it’s still a pain when you need to crawl through a death tunnel again because you fell into a bullshit pit! The only checkpoint in the entire game is right in front of the final dungeon of the game.
I guess the designers knew that the final level was complete bullshit.
I can understand why people don’t like this game. It’s a massive departure from the first game, what with it’s linear level design and RPG mechanics. Still, I think the fairer qualities are often ignored.
Gaining new magic and sword skills throughout your journey is super satisfying! It feels like you’re becoming a better hero, not just through killing enemies and getting numbers, but through the teachings of the different sword masters. There’s a reason they recycle this later for Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.
Plus, that music is fucking awesome! The Temple Theme is easily one of the best in all of Zelda history. They remixed it in Smash Bros, for god sake! And it’s basically the default song for most Zelda stages!
Overcoming the insane challenge packed in this game is also super rewarding. When you conquer a bullshit challenge with your own skills and wits, you feel like a genuine hero. The hardship makes you feel like a true bad ass, rather than creating an artificial power level, like in most RPGs.
It’s not an easy game, nor is it a spectacular one. But I can’t help but love it. Counting the playthrough for this post, I’ve played through this one a total of three times. And y’know what? I’ll probably play it again a few more times in the coming years. It’s hardly flawless, yes, but it’s a ton of fun to play.
Still, I can admit that there are way better Zelda games out there. Like the next one. But that’s for later.