Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Genre: Action RPG
Released: 1988

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is an action role-playing and the follow-up to the successful Legend of Zelda. The game was released in Japan 7 months before the first Zelda game was released in North America. Like the first Zelda, the game was released on a gold colored cartridge. The game was one of the first side-scrolling NES RPGs and inspired a wave of similar titles including Castlevania 2, Faxanadu, Cadash, and Battle of Olympus.

The game, told mostly in the manual only, takes place several years after the events of The Legend of Zelda. Link is now 16 and notices the mark of Hyrule has appeared on the back of his hand. Impa brings Link to castle Hyrule where his hand opens a door that has been sealed for generations. Inside the room is the sleeping Princess Zelda who has been slumbering since her brother tried to force her to tell him secrets learned from their deceased father concerning the Triforce. A wizard working for the prince cast the spell that caused her to fall asleep, but the spell also killed the wizard. Unable to waken her, the prince decreed that all princess of Hyrule will be named Zelda. Impa give Link six crystals and ancient writings that show where the crystals must be placed in Hyrule to open the path to the palace which contains the triforce of courage. Only a future king of Hyrule could read the scroll, and Link was able to. The followers of Gannon also peruse Link believing his blood will bring their master back to life. 

Shigeru Miyamoto decided to make Zelda II fundamentally different from its predecessor. He brought on a different team to build the game. From the original team only Takashi Tezuka returned to write the story and script. From the new team it was Tadashi Sugiyama's first role as director. Because of this, the game differs vastly from the original Legend of Zelda and features side scrolling platforming sections and many more RPG elements such as an experience system and towns where Link can talk to citizens. 

The game was originally developed for the Famicom Disk System and the port to the NES featured minor differences in graphics. The main one being that in the original version all dungeons were grey. Another change was removing some sound from the game since the NES didn't have the additional sound chip that was in the Famicom Disk System. Experience values for leveling up were also changed, and in the original version, saved games would use the lowest level of the stats for all 3 (if the player had level 4 health, level 3 magic and level 2 attack, but then quit the game all 3 would be at level 2 when they restarted). This made leveling up in the Japanese version much harder.

The Adventure of Link features side scrolling dungeons, caves and towns, connected by a top down world map. The player moves around the map which contains roads, grass, forests, and dessert areas as well as impassable mountain and seas tiles. Enemy icons appear on the map and move around trying to make contact with Link. If the player makes contact, they are moved to a side scrolling screen that matches the map tile they were on (forest, dessert, grass, etc). The screen is filled with enemies that Link must defeat or avoid before leaving the area. Link can jump, duck, and perform high or low attacks with his sword. At full health Link can shoot a projective from his sword like the original game, though it doesn't travel as far. Link's shield can also be used to block incoming projectiles. He can duck to block low projectiles as well. Eventually Link can learn skills to attack upwards, or downwards while jumping. 

Each defeated enemy earns Link some experience points. Each time Link reaches a set number of points a dialog appears which allows him to spend the points to increase his health (defense), magic (cost of spells), or attack power. Link can choose to not spend the points in order to save up for another upgrade as all 3 upgrades cost a different amount of points. All stats can be raised to level 8. Link can also find heart or magic containers which increase his health and magic bar. There are 4 of each in the game.

If Link is defeated by an enemy he loses a life. This is the only official Zelda game in which the player has a set number of lives. When all lives are lost the player loses all unspent experience points and restarts at the castle. This also happens if the player quits the game since the game can only be saved on the game over screen. 

Link will come across several towns in the game which contain citizens Link can to talk to in order to restore his health or magic, learn spells, and gather information about his quest.

The game features 7 palaces (Parapa, Midero, Island, Maze Island, Ocean, Three Eye, and Great Palace) each with a boss. Bosses include  Horsehead, Helmethead, Riding Blue Ironknuckle, Carock,  Gooma, Barba, Thunderbird, and final boss Dark Link. 

Link can find special items and spells in the game that allow him to progress. Special items and spells can be used to bypass obstacles in the overworld or side scrolling stages. 

Special Items include the candle which lights up the dark caves, the glove which can break blocks in palaces, the hammer which can break rocks in the overworld, the raft which is needed to reach Eastern Hyrule, boots that allow Link to walk on water, the flute which awakens the River Devil, the magic key that will open all locked doors, and the cross which will let Link see red or purple moas. 

Spells can be obtained from a wise man in every town after the player has completed a side quest. Spells include shield, jump, life, fairy, fire, a random effect spell, reflect and thunder.

Some references to Zelda 2 have appeared in other Zelda games, the biggest being the sages in Ocarina of Time that bear the same names as towns from The Adventure of Link: Rauru, Ruto, Saria, Nabooru, and Darunia.

Zelda 2 allows storing up to three games in the cartridge's memory. Once the game has been completed, selecting the corresponding file allows starting a new game with the same experience levels, techniques and magic spells. Special items, Heart and Magic containers are lost though. 

Despite some negative feedback over the changes from the original title, Zelda 2 was a commercial success and some elements have made their way into later Zelda games.

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link was re-released as a NES classics title for the Gameboy Advance, and was included on the Zelda Collector's Edition 2 disc bundled a certain release of the Nintendo Gamecube. The game was also the 200th game released on Wii Virtual Console and was offered as one of 10 titles in the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program. 

The next games in the Legend of Zelda series include Link's Awakening for Gameboy and A Link to the Past for SNES.

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